Dorian by Simon Grenier-Poirier
Portrait Dorian Nuskind-Oder. Photo: Simon Grenier-Poirier

My name is Dorian Nuskind-Oder, and I am an American dance artist living in Montreal, Quebec. I fell in love with Montreal in the summer of 2006, when I attended a month-long workshop in the city. I knew right away I wanted to live there. I loved the parks and the quiet back alley “ruelles”, and the reasonable rents. Quebec has traditionally taken great pride in its culture, and I could sense that the city had a rich arts scene. In addition to the big institutions like the Museum of Fine Arts, the Symphony, the Opera and the Ballet, there are tons of smaller, experimental companies and venues. In 2009, I made the move from New York City and never looked back.

It was hard to narrow down the list, but here are a few of my favorite creative places in Montreal:

Belgo Building

Belgo Building
Located on St. Catherine St, right next to the Place des Arts, is a loft building filled with a variety of arts organizations. Mostly clustered on the 3rd, 4th and 5th Floors, there are commercial galleries, artist-run centers, and dance studios. A few favorites:

SBC Gallery often host interesting live events in conjunction with their exhibitions as well as symposiums and workshops.

Studio 303 is an organization that supports the creation of contemporary dance and interdisciplinary work. They host intimate, provocative performances in their studio space.

Also, check out CIRCA.

For a weekly overview of what’s on at the Belgo, you can check out the website for The Belgo Report.

DHC/Art is a private foundation housed in two beautiful buildings in Montreal’s Old Port neighborhood. They host two large exhibitions per year and focus on international artists who, though well known, have not yet had major a solo show in Canada. Recent artists include Thomas Demand, Cory Archangel, and Ryoji Ikeda. There is no admission fee, and they are usually not very busy, which means you can enjoy the artworks in peace and quiet.

Short and Sweet by Celia Spenard-Ko
Short and Sweet (performers: Adam Kinner and Kelly Keenan). Photo: Celia Spenard-Ko

Wants & Needs Dance
Wants & Needs Dance is a company run by choreographers Sasha Kleinplatz and Andrew Tay. In addition to making their own work, they organize several regular events including the very popular Short & Sweet series. Short & Sweet invites 30 choreographers (or, occasionally artists from other disciplines) to create a 3-minute piece. A timekeeper is present and anyone who goes over the limit has their lights and sound cut. Experimentation is highly encouraged, and the evenings are a really fun way to get a sense of Montreal’s contemporary dance community. Most of the time, the shows happen at La Sala Rossa, a bar/music venue on Avenue St. Laurent.

Theatre Aux Ecuries
Aux Ecuries is a bit off the beaten path, but I love their theater space and appreciate the adventurous programming.

Aux Ecuries by Adrienne Surprenant
Performance at Aux Ecuries (“AVALe” by Compagnie Joe Jack et John). Photo: Adrienne Surprenant

Societe des Arts Technologiques
If you are interested in digital and multi-media art, there is the SAT, which hosts electronic music performances and immersive multi-media type shows, as well as residences and workshops. The Satosphere is a large, domed theater space which allows for immersive 360 projections. They also have a restaurant, the Labo Culinaire, which offers an “experimental” menu.

SAT by Sebastien Roy
SAT Photo: Sebastien Roy

Drawn and Quarterly Bookshop
Drawn and Quarterly is a rad little bookshop run by a printing press of the same name. They have a great selection of contemporary writing, as well as graphic novels and children’s books.

Drawn and Quarterly
Drawn and Quarterly Bookshop, Photo: Studio Happy Birthday

Montreal is a city known for its festivals, especially for the two huge summer festivals (Montreal International Jazz Festival, and the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival). Here are two of my favorites:

International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA) 
FIFA is an international festival of films on art. Their programming is a mix of documentaries on art and artists, video art, experimental film and dance film. In general the quality is very high, and I’ve seen a lot of beautiful movies at this festival.

Festival TransAmerique (FTA)
The FTA is a performing arts festival that programs both Canadian and International dance and theater. It usually takes place the last week in May and the first week in June. Tickets are expensive, but it’s a great moment to binge on performances. The festival also organizes panel discussions with visiting artists. In addition to the FTA, there is the OFFTA, which focuses on work by local companies, as well as a number of other independent events and showings. There is not much performance programmed during the summer in Montreal, so this always feels like the season’s last hurrah before everyone takes off until fall.

Dorian Nuskind-Oder will present a new solo performance on 31 May and 1 June 2014 at Studio 303 in Montreal. For more information about her work, please visit her website.

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