Meet the Artists:   Clay Nikiforuk and Levana Irena

Meet the Artists: Clay Nikiforuk and Levana Irena

“…an unconventional reclaiming of choice.”

Clay Nikiforuk & Levana Irena,  BLOOM #1 artists-in-residence.  

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BLOOM #1 choreographers in studio with guest sommelier Lisa Haley    |  Photo:  Susan McKenzie


You are invited to BLOOM, a MascallDance artist residency focussed on choreographic work midway through its’ creation process.  Join us for two Tuesday “tastings” of these works-in-progress:

WHEN    February 20th and 27th, 2018,
WHERE 1130 Jervis our studio in historic St John’s Church Hall.
TIME       5:30PM

WHAT     Five minute dance samplings are paired with wines selected by  outstanding Vancouver sommelier Lisa Haley  (Vancouver Magazine’s Sommelier of the Year 2017) and a comedic commentary.  

TICKETS at the door: $10 includes wine sampling.

Meet artists in residence Clay Nikiforuk and Levana Irena.

1Levana IrenaBLOOM is a significant marker for this creative team. For the first time, project Clay Nikiforuk and Levana Irena will be working on their project “Life, Blood, Water” in the same room

Lifelong friends and collaborators, this is a creation partnership that typically spans long distances. The two have gestated shows across miles and time zones, creating works between London, UK, the Okanagan and the mountains of northern New Mexico.


Over these distances, Clay and Levana create by exchanging research, recordings, processing and feedback.  Working at a remove, Clay’s relative detachment from the outcome has become useful; when Levana is researching movement and building structure alone in a studio thousands of miles away, the sound of Clay’s voice is a valuable (and comforting) part of the process.


                                                                        Clay Nikiforuk

Inspired by stories of reproductive choice and pregnancy loss, the Irena/Nikiforuk team are drawing from extensive workshops and learning contexts to create a work rooted in dance, theatre, story-telling, music and community work. Both are extremely interested in creating inclusive situations, identify themselves with “they” pronouns, and are motivated by patterns they’ve encountered:  “lack of support, understanding and medical access – and the empowerment and connection” that can be kindled by support and choice.

“This residency is very anchoring” says Levana. “It helps  to have  this inspiring space to come to. It grounds the process.”  The team benefits from being BLOOM’s sole out-of-town artists, free to work in the high ceiling’d expansive studio undistracted, unlike their (local) colleagues, whose regular obligations continue alongside BLOOM’s immersive experience.

Finally in the same place, both were downed by flu  (“Inevitable!” says Levana). Clay reports being refreshed by some “pretty inspirational fever hallucinations!” But no stopping; the residency is intense, and they focus on tasks doable while on the mend, such as songwriting.

The process and the theme weave together. Ways that we are alone – and not alone – underpin both, and are at the heart of both  pregnancy and pregnancy loss. For many, the latter is isolating as well as difficult. Yet the team’s inspiration for the project is the story-sharing, spontaneity and mutual support that bubbles up during the workshops they’ve taken. They speak of finding themselves “laughing helplessly” as a group, of supportive interactions, stories and environments they’ve found.

Levana Irena, Clay Nikiforuk_n

The team look forward to showing their completed full-length (half hour) work, a blend of dance, theatre, storytelling and song at the Vancouver Fringe, September 2018.

Asked to imagine a truly perfect venue for the work they are making, they conjure laughter and convivial picnic tables in the open air: support, understanding and a sense of wonder at empowered fertility – an unconventional reclaiming of choice.

Inspirations and influences: 

Clay Nikiforuk:   “I get inspired by a wide range of artists, especially queer, female, and/or people of colour, and also especially ones that haven’t “made” it yet and are doing their own thing, trying out new things and taking risks  – burgeoning stand-up comedians, singer-songwriters, slam poets, storytellers, rappers, academics, activists who write editorials and zines, cartoonists and animators.

They’re all working with encasing difficult subjects and politics in rhetoric and beauty and that’s what’s most interesting to me.”

Levana Irena:     ”  I would say that James Thierrée is one of my biggest inspirations. His solo show, Raoul, was the most moved I have ever felt at a performance. It’s a physical theatre work of magic, illusion, struggle, and play, brought alive by his precise execution and physical finesse.

Another would be Owen Pallett, a Montreal musician. Again, it is his mastery of the violin that inspires me, creating an orchestra of one by playing exponentially with a loop pedal. I was literally (yes, literally) stunned by his live performance.
I am eternally seeking the mastery of my own craft, inspired to continue by those who have already dedicated many years to their own, and I’m loving every minute of it. I would thank my mum, though, for my inspiration towards making pieces more about positive social change- indirectly related to a small seed she planted when I was young, about how it can be more important to be friends with people who don’t seem to have many. I relate that now, to focusing on cultivating community, to making more space for those who are socially marginalized, and to simply being kind and inclusive with our intentions.”


BLOOM #1 2018, 5:30 PM Tuesdays Feb 20 and 27, 1130 Jervis, $10
Contact:, 604 669 9337.