This year, various York faculty members, alumni, and students have been nominated for the prestigious Dora Awards. To be nominated for a Dora is to be recognized for achievements in professional theatre, dance, and opera in Toronto.
“I was surprised and very excited to hear that I had been nominated,” says Jennifer Jimenez, a professor in the dance department and lighting designer. “As a designer, I am working to add meaning with light and take the audience members deeper into the journey of the story. Being nominated affirmed that I was able to accomplish that in my design for 1184. It also feels good to be recognized by peers for my creative work and join the list of people who are Dora nominees.”
“1184 occurs at the cusp of the fall of the Muslim empire in Andalusia after 500 years of Convivencia or coexistence between Muslims, Christians and the Jewish people. It raises questions on how people from these three major Abrahamic religions can come together on common ground, peacefully and successfully,” says Jimenez.
Tony Ofori, a York alumnus and actor nominated for an outstanding performance in a leading role, says that, “this by far is one the greatest privileges of my career but I understand that this in no way means that my work is done as a student of observation. I’d love to thank the team and cast involved in Pipeline, especially York’s very own and Soulpepper’s Associate Artistic Director, as well as our Assistant Director, Luke Reese, and Soulpepper’s Artistic Director, as well as our Director, Weyni Mengesha.”
“At the beginning of the year I set a goal for myself to find ways of going deeper. With the exceptional guidance of my Director Weyni Mengesha, Assistant Director Luke Reece, and the contribution of my cast to create the world we were to live in, we were all able to breathe life into this story. The work consists of asking questions and a constant willingness to continue to explore even beyond rehearsal. I feel that this helped me get my performance to nomination status,” adds Ofori.
York alumna and costume designer, Samantha McCue says, “I am honoured to even be considered for it. My work is focused on uplifting Indigenous folks and their stories and I am glad that audiences got to enjoy it and understand the impact of representation. I didn’t have that starting out so I hope this encourages more Indigenous folks to consider theatre as a career.”
“Kamloopa is a show that is very close to my heart. It was one of the first shows I did after graduating from York and the experience had a profound impact on my career and my artistic process. It’s a challenging show in terms of costumes. There are almost 30 looks for three performers and they often intersect with and break stereotypes. I wanted to make sure that Indigenous women and femmes had agency, fun, and could demonstrate their power in each costume,” adds McCue.
“Building relationships and the energy you bring into a creative space is so important,” says Jimenez. “Learn as much as you can and challenge yourself to learn something new with each opportunity. Follow your own path with an open mind, stay true to your passion, and you will get there in the end.”
Ofori explains that “oftentimes, performance students get out of school like soldiers of the art form. Often, we are disappointed that the success we had in theatre school is not properly translated in the real world. This is okay. It takes time for most. Go out, experience things.”
“Take what interests you because you never know where you’ll end up— and be flexible! So many opportunities are out there and even if you think you’re not qualified, you can always adapt,” adds McCue.
The Dora Awards will be held on September 19th at the Elgin and Winter Theatre Centre.
Congratulations to all of our York U nominees!