About Us

Contact Information:

For more information please contact:

Shelby Thoms - Artistic  Director
Chrissy Baxter - Executive Director
p. 647-618-3240
e. SimcoeContemporaryDancers [at] gmail.com

For mailing address please inquire by phone or email. 

Mandate, Mission and Values

Simcoe Contemporary Dancers is a not-for-profit professional dance company serving the region of Simcoe County that exists to encourage and showcase the development of local professional contemporary dance. We come together to raise the visibility of contemporary dance, create awareness, build educational opportunities, and reach out to our public to share our love of our art form.

As residents of our community, we are invested in growing and developing local talent and local opportunities for professional development.  Our goal is to raise visibility and participation in contemporary dance by:  Creating and performing contemporary dance works; providing workshops/classes at an intermediate to advanced level of training; and providing public access to dance through performances/community involvement.

We value and encourage inter-disciplinary partnerships with individual artists and other local arts organizations.
The nature of our artists and activities provides a safe, positive, neutral environment for people to come together to take part in a shared experience. We facilitate opportunities to converge and collaborate as a community in a non-competitive atmosphere – providing a platform to be expressive, creatively engaged and challenged.

The local focus of our organization allows members of the community to enjoy a professional level of dance in their own backyard. Our events bring community together to a shared experience of movement, which transcends language, as we animate spaces with choreographies that tell our stories and experiences.
We are ambassadors for our art form within our community and ambassadors for our community within our art form.

Our Story

Simcoe Contemporary Dancers (SCD) was created by Sarah Lochhead in the Spring of 2009 with support from a City of Barrie Cultural Grant. Auditions were held in May 2009 and our inaugural project “Get Out and Dance”  (a site specific project) animated the waterfront and streets of downtown Barrie throughout the summer. With Lochhead’s leadership and vision the activities of the company evolved beyond Barrie’s borders to neighbouring municipalities and provincial performance opportunities.

2009 saw the development of weekly professional classes in Barrie providing an opportunity for local dancers to train together and establish a sense of community, as well as specialty workshops in the private studio sector.  We acquired donated repertoire from choreographers which led to further public performances in unconventional spaces such as the Bayfield Mall and theatre venues like the Georgian Theatre (for the Barrie Arts Awards).

2010 focused on choreography.  Nikki Russell’s work “Loss” was performed as part of Dance in Dundas Square in Toronto. That spring works by Lochhead were performed as part of Corpus dance company’s provincial mall tour. We held a *Summer Creation Period acquiring repertoire by Susan Kendal and Meaghan Giusti. This project fostered a period of artistic change and the tradition of holding annual auditions began. We gave workshops in high schools and expanded our weekly class opportunities to include an Orillia location. Our public performances included being part of the first national Culture Days initiative.

In 2011, we worked with notable Canadian modern dancer Trish Armstrong.  With solos by Armstrong, Lochhead and the direction of Nancy Pottage, we produced our first full length production –“Woven.” That summer SCD offered its first summer intensive called *My Moves - Choreographic Intensive, to assist in  developing skills of regional youth choreographers. Performance highlights included the Grand Opening Gala for the Mady Centre for the Performing Arts, and collaborating with BRAVADO!. An additional weekday evening class was added in Barrie by request of our class participants.  (SCD now offers four weekly class opportunities: 3 in Barrie – central, north and south and 1 in Orillia)

In late 2011 and into 2012 we began a guest workshop series bringing up artists such as Lucy Rupert, and Brittany Duggan to Barrie to increase access to professional development. Performance highlights of 2012 included: SCD apprentices at the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival’s Youth Moves Series; a Culture Days performance at the MacLaren Art Centre; the patient holiday party at the Royal Victory Hospital and participation in Across Ocean’s Choreographic Marathon in Toronto. As of February 28, 2012 we incorporated as a not-for-profit organization. With the support of a City of Barrie operating project grant, we have navigated both artistic and administrative transitions, while maintaining our artistic activity and organizational integrity.

In 2013, we garnered support from the OAC for “Departure” at the Mady Centre for the Performing Arts. The opening preview was sold out! Throughout 2013, we continued our performances in the community expanding our reach and continuing a performance partnership at the MacLaren Art Centre for both Winterfest and Culture Days. Our workshop series expanded to include a “Welcome Home” component, which brings artist who grew up in Barrie and area back home to share their experiences and skills. Since this “Welcome Home” series we have seen multiple artists come home to Simcoe County to share their art with SCD and community members including Dora Award winning choreographer, Mairead Filgate as well has many former apprentices including Eliza Pinney, Reagan McQuoid, and Aliyah Beckles-Gaines.
2014 focused on the development of our other-worldly performance spectacular at the Mady Centre (Oct. 2015) “Cumulonimbus and the Fable Keepers” by local choreographer Susan Kendal. We celebrated our fifth anniversary with a gala event. We also partnered with Across Oceans and The David Busby Street Centre to bring the award-winning community arts project KRIMA! to Barrie.
2015 saw choral collaborations with BRAVADO! and King Edward Choir. With support from the County of Simcoe we embarked on a Library Tour expanding our performance reach to Collingwood, Innisfil, Severn and Penetanguishene. In addition to Culture Days activities, we presented Cumulonimbus and the Fable Keepers at the Mady Centre for the Performing Arts. We expanded our holiday performances to include outreach in Innisfil and Thornbury. These holiday performances were also the first year we included a community workshop aspect into our holiday performances. We offered a small workshop class for members of the community to create their own holiday dance and connect with company members before an impromptu performance of the work they helped create.
In 2016, we performed as part of Dance Ontario Dance Weekend at Harbourfront Centre in Jan. 2016. We took on organizing and presenting Celebration of Dance – a community performance involving studios and schools to raise money for local charities.  We also performed at the inaugural Huronia Arts Festival at Lakehead University’s Orillia campus and this fall we held our first gala incorporating a performance element with the goal of attracting corporate sponsors to diversify revenue. The Lucky 7 Gala event was a great success and saw community members and company members come together to celebrate the successes of SCD so far.
Fast forward to 2017, eight years into our journey, we applied for and received funding to present Dusk Dances Barrie for the first time at Lampman Lane Park in Barrie! We brought a series of 4 professional touring dance works to be performed at the park as well as creating and facilitating a choreographic process with community members ages ranging from 6 to 30+. We also presented our fourth full-length performance, “Trajectory”, at the Mady Centre for the Performing Arts. This mixed bill performance expanded the boundaries of what contemporary dance is and can be. SCD Company members with Meagan O’Shea brought down the house during our successful four-day run. At Trajectory, SCD also presented two world premier choreographic works, one by Dora Award winning choreographer and Barrie Native, Mairead Filgate and senior company member Shelby Thoms.

Following Trajectory, SCD jumped right into our annual holiday shows! We presented a new work that was created collaboratively by new apprentices and company members as well as a selection of works from our current repertoire. The end of our 2017/18 season saw the creation of three new works by our senior and choreographic apprentices. These works are to become part of our 2018/2019 repertoire to be performed throughout Simcoe County.  

*project funded with support from a City of Barrie Culture Grant