Allen Kaeja (ne´ Norris, Co-Artistic Director, Choreographer, Performer, Cinematographer, MA Dance York University) is an internationally recognized and award-winning choreographer and filmmaker. The child of a refugee and Holocaust survivor, Allen was invited in 1981 by the Ontario Olympic Wrestling Federation to compete for “the team,” he chose dance as his career instead. Allen has created 27 years of Holocaust inspired stage and film works. He has created over a 210 dance pieces and has directed and/or choreographed for 35 films.
Allen is Co-Artistic Director of Kaeja d’Dance with his wife Karen Kaeja. He is co-founder of the CanAsian Dance Festival and fringe Festival of Independent Dance Artists (fFIDA). His stage works have been presented in festivals around the world, including in Norway, Sweden, Israel, the UK, Portugal, India, Mexico, Venezuela, Spain, the USA, as well as at the VANOC Cultural Olympiad through Chutzpah! Festival. Allen’s awards include the prestigious Kathryn Ash Award for Choreography, Clifford E. Lee, K.M. Hunter, and Paul D. Fleck Choreography Awards (Canada), the Bonnie Bird Award (UK), a UNESCO citation, and the Moving Picture Award for best performance (Canada). Allen also performed as Pushkin in Moze Mossanen’s Gemini-winning dance film Nureyev.
Allen was nominated for the: Ontario Arts Foundation Artist Educator Award. Allen and Karen received Dance Ontario’s Lifetime achievement award, were finalists in the TD Diversity Award, Now Magazines “Best Local Choreographer” and received Canadian Dance Assembly I Love Dance National Awards for Innovation and Community, of which they won the latter. They were also listed in the Globe and Mails BEST DANCE for Porch View Dances! The Kaeja’s are nominated for the 2023 Eldred Family Dance Award for lifetime achievement in dance.
Kaeja films have been screened all across the globe and have been nominated for a Gemini, the Banff World Television Festival Awards (Canada) and the American Choreography Awards (USA) . They have received special ‘Jury Mentions’ from IMZ (Europe) and American Dance Festival (USA). The Kaeja films are also a part of the permanent collection at the MoMA and the Jewish Museum in New York, the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Israel and in a special exhibit at the Museum of Civilization, as well as owned by many university libraries. XTOD was shortlisted for the Jury Prize (IMZ, Europe).
Allen and Karen teach Master classes in Kaeja Elevations, Contact Dance, Improvisation and Dance Film. They are also currently on faculty at Dance Arts Institute (formerly The School of Toronto Dance Theatre) since 1991 and, as well, Allen has taught Partnering and Dance Film at Toronto Metropolitan University since 2002.
Allen also co-developed many site-specific and audience interactive engagement performance strategies with Karen Kaeja over the past 31 years. These include: Porch View Dances (2012 – present) and Downtown Dances (2016 – present, with Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada).
Karen’s TouchX and Allen’s “I am the Child of…” were both presented in their 31st Anniversary Shared Concert in November 2022 to three sold out shows. Allen’s “I am the Child of…” is the first production in Canada to integrate Augmented Reality into a live stage show, inviting the audience to bring their devices into the theatre as part of the overall choreographic experience.
Allen has received commissions for new works from: Tara Butler-The Survival of Knowing and Rebecca Margolick-Trace Elements–both Solo commissions, and Ottawa School of Dance. Karen and Allen had recently toured to Israel, UK, China, Singapore and Japan before the pandemic.
Karen and Allen have supported and/or created 29 Dance Films over the past two years, including their newest creations: Kitchen Dances in five episodes, each in a distinct home with Executive Producer/Director Moze Mossanen and In Case of Emergency with 18 incredible dance artists representing the mosaic of our community. Recently their films have been screened in festivals in the USA, UK and Canada. Allen is currently in post-production for the new “I am a Child of…” film.
Allen has created an Elevation focused commercial for onePLUS smartphone for their international release; Allen is currently in discussions with the Stratford Festival to complete Wendy and Peter Pan in 2024. Allen is in the process of re-imagining the stage production Resistance collaborating with four choreographers: Aria Evans, Rodney Diverlus, Karen Kaeja, an emerging dance artist (TBC) and myself for their 2025 season. The Kaeja’s are touring the USA, UK and across Canada in 2023.