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Karen Kaeja

As we approach the 20th anniversary of Older & Reckless, we shine a light on the senior artists who we are honoured to celebrate, including Porch View Dances creator KAREN KAEJA

Karen Kaeja in lifeDUETs by Ben Kamino- photo by Zhenya Cerneacov


With a lifetime of experience on stage, what keeps you engaged as a performer?

Performing is my happy place. A playing field that allows me to enter a meditation between heaven and earth where my shy self can be 'out there' in the world taking in and putting out the emotional situations I inhabit - a sort of practiced channelling.

Please tell us about a current project that excites you and why.

I recently conceived of Fallow for an NAC #CanadaPerforms performance event online. It was a collaboration between myself as solo dancer and Allen Kaeja as camera, attempting to twist the visuals of our inner homestead with living real time external images. My starting point was a big red living room chair that we brought outside, immediately exciting me to live inside of an a-skewed utopia. I revel in embodying an image and tasked myself to create moving portraits that inspired me throughout the creative journey and performance of Fallow. It was the first and longest solo performance I created/performed in quite a while. And I must say the process was a rich juncture for Allen and I as collaborators, meeting our maturity of age, art and relationship, head on. It was full of challenges and risk (if it had been cloudy outside, the whole project would not have been seen by anyone online watching). Fallow was also a steady flood of creativity that filled my being at this pandemic time of uncertainty.

Please tell us about a highlight or pivotal moment from your dancing past.

One of my first ever solo performance experiences as a teenager, forever ago, I forgot mid-dance what was next (it was a jazz competition situation - yes - I did do that once!). The judge said to the jury to give me another chance to begin again … and ... I froze again at the same spot. This was 100% the moment that led me into my lifelong affair with improvisation. Never would there ever be a moment again, in my life or career, that could not become something else, something new, something rich and something real.


Karen Kaeja is an award-winning performer, choreographer, project instigator and mentor whose work interrogates relational feminine perspectives. “The mastermind behind Porch View Dances” Toronto Star, she develops platforms provoking collaborative relationships between dancers, everyday people and the body. Co-Artistic Director of Kaeja d’Dance with Allen Kaeja she is in The Canadian Who’s Who, with awards including Dance Ontario Lifetime Achievement, CDA “I Love Dance” Community, Paul D. Fleck Fellowship; her nominations include NOW’s Best Local Choreographer and twice for NOW’s Best Dance Company, plus 7 Dora Mavor Moore nominations. Commissioned and presented by performance series around the world, she continues to dance for many of Canada’s brilliant choreographers.

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