2020/2021 Confluence Fellow


What is Confluence?

Catalyst Theatre is pleased to announce the launch of Confluence – a season-long creative fellowship for Edmonton-based, IBPOC artists. This creative fellowship will be offered by Catalyst for a minimum of three one-season terms, with a new artist/artistic team selected each season.

Confluence offers a fee of $20,000, rehearsal space, mentorship and various other in-kind components aimed to support the specific artist and their process. It is designed for IBPOC artists interested in developing new work and/or working outside of traditional theatre models. Catalyst hopes to support, inspire and elevate the work of an IBPOC artist/artistic team while creating an opportunity to evolve their practice, hone their work, augment their creative and administrative skills and expand their professional networks.

Catalyst Theatre is mandated to create original Canadian work that explores new possibilities for the theatrical art form and the process through which it is created. In the spring of 2019, with this mandate in mind, Catalyst began examining all aspects of our organization with a focus on what we could do to ensure that our company was a safe and inclusive place, and what actions we could take to meaningfully support and elevate the work of under-represented artists. As part of this process we identified a shared desire to make space for IBPOC artists who have similar dreams of creating their own work in their own way. This led to the creation of Confluence. Our hope is that, over the coming years, Confluence will play a role in evolving the landscape of Edmonton’s theatre ecology and have a meaningful impact on the creative journeys of future creative leaders who identify as IBPOC.

The 2020/2021 Confluence fellow was chosen by a selection panel that included: Nadien Chu, Jonathan Christenson, Patricia Darbasie, Christine Frederick, Jessica Glover, and Lana Michelle Hughes.

The opinions expressed by the Confluence Fellow are their own. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of Catalyst Theatre, its staff or its board.

Special Thanks To

Catalyst would like to thank the Edmonton Arts Council for their support of Confluence

Catalyst is pleased to announce the first ever recipient of the Confluence Artistic Fellowship, Tia Kushniruk.

The Catalyst staff along with our panelists, Christine Frederick, Nadien Chu and Patricia Darbasie, were incredibly impressed by Tia’s articulation of her process, her exuberance, and history of creation work. Her excitement about theatre and the performing arts is infectious and her proposal was brimming with extraordinary drive and ambition.  We were also inspired by her desire to break into a new area of performance with her aspirations to bridge the gap between dance and theatre in her storytelling. We’re thrilled to work with her and her collaborators on her big ideas and facilitate her growth as an artist and producer.

Catalyst is excited to begin the first year of Confluence with such an exciting and creative artist. Stay tuned to this page for more information about Tia and journey with us.


Tia Ashley Kushniruk is a Queer Woman of Chinese-Eastern European settler heritage from the Treaty 6 Territory of Edmonton AB. Since 2013 she has been affiliated with the Cirque Du Soleil and is a frequent collaborator of Jake W. Hastey for Toy Guns Dance Theatre (Edmonton). She graduated from The School of Toronto Dance Theatre (STDT) in 2017, receiving the Kathryn Ash Scholarship in 2016.

She has had the pleasure of performing works of Antony Hamilton (DanceMakers, chunkymove), Paul Andre-Fortier, Peggy Baker, Aria Evans, Christopher House (TDT), Shay Kuebler (SK/RSA), Christianne Ullmark, Susie Burpee and Jasmyn Fyffe – touring Nationally across Canada and Internationally to Israel, U.S.A, Colombia, China, and France. Tia’s work has been presented by STDT’s Student Council (Toronto, 2014-2017), Edmonton Dance Theatre’s Dancing in the Park (Edmonton, 2016), Festival Internacional Nomada (El Salvador, 2020) and Dancing on the Edge the.response – Dance Cafe (Vancouver 2020). She is an illustrator, a curator, a moderator, an animator, a stand-up comedian and a writer, and spends a good amount of her day-to-day meddlings thinking about live performance and audience interaction. Tia’s illustration and animation work have been commissioned by Plastic Orchid Factory (Vancouver, 2020), Two Big Steps (Vancouver, 2020/2021), Dance made in/fait au Canada (2021) and adelheid (Toronto, 2020). Her research has been supported by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and the Canada Council for the Arts, since 2014.

A Message From The Artist

“Confluence is terribly exciting to me – especially during this time of isolation and pandemic. Not only the chance to work/learn from Catalyst, but I get to dig into the meat of this company and to examine my own, well, meat. Within my world of work as an independent dance artist, I rarely get a chance to even slow down. There is a constant hustle and bustle associated with our survival, and to slow down means to sacrifice opportunity and work, that would be fruitful for you in the future. For your future. In not being seen, you lose relevance. But in participating in this race, I have woefully neglected my creative curiosities.

I am fortunate and grateful that Catalyst is awarding me with the Confluence Fellowship, not only because I will be able to satiate so many of my quandaries and curiosities as a dance/theatre maker, but also with the connections I will be able to build with them, myself, and the collaborators I bring along with me. The craving to understand and practise ‘Theatre Making’, as a dance artist, has been something that has been on my mind since I began my career, but I haven’t been able to dissect it. Questions like, “Who is this for?” or “What do I want my audience to feel?” or even “What do I need to feel?”. In past processes I have been a part of, or have led, these are relegated to notions that appear after the process is over, versus during or even before the process starts. In my opinion, this leads to work that is spectacle/entertainment based, neglecting passion and reflection in the world building, process, research, and inevitably the presented product.

My own creative inclinations lean towards Dance Theatre making. I usually start processes with Theatre Improv Games, then from building scenes and characters, diving into movement motifs and setting up additional relationships from there. Remixing and adding artefacts, habits, and questions to imbue the scene with, just more. I appreciate my dance foundation. Visual storytelling is the base for, I believe, everything that we interact with in our lives – for example, before we had written language, we had Architecture. So, my choreographic mentors are wonderful. But I am left feeling hungry. Hungry for more from the work, from the creators, and from my offerings as a leader within the space. To be able to make work that is not only seen, but heard, felt, and questioned by its audience.

My time as the recipient for the Confluence Fellowship will be a creative exchange between me, Catalyst, and my collaborators, as well as a practical foundry for how I want to support myself and my fellow artists moving forward. I am honestly just excited to yell my questions at Catalyst, soak up as much information as I can, and then practice, grow and share my findings with my collaborators and the communities I work and play in.”




List of Significant Collaborators

Shammy Belmore, Clarke Blair, Alexander Boldt, Kenzie Bowes, Ileanna Cheladyn, Kristen Innes-Stambolic, Jon Kereliuk, Susannah Haight, Andrea Handal Rivera, Jocelyn Mah, Jenna Mazur, Rizwan Mohiuddin, Katherine Semchuk, Emmet Verhoog, Calder White, Sarah Wong