Arts·Heartbreak to Art

When her mentor died, dance become a 'spiritual and healing process' for this Toronto artist

Heartbreak to Art is a new series about the healing power of creativity. Through art, dancer Cora Kozaris keeps the memory of her grandfather with her always.

'Before he passed, I wasn't open with my art. But after his death, he began speaking through my choreography'

When her mentor died, dance become a 'spiritual and healing process' for Cora Kozaris

5 years ago
Duration 1:37
"My grandfather represents everything I want to become in life. Mentally, emotionally and physically [he is] my biggest inspiration."

Heartbreak to Art is a new CBC Arts web series about the healing power of creativity. Directed by emerging Toronto filmmaker Karena Evans, each episode is a video portrait of a young Canadian artist. These dancers, musicians, painters and poets have all had their hearts broken in some way, and through this series of 10 impressionistic short films, they share disarmingly personal stories that reveal how art helped them rise out of the pain. As Evans puts it: "Art is their form of release, of healing, of growth, of happiness. To me, Heartbreak to Art is about what every real story is truly about — how the human heart changes."

"Heartbreak to Art is about what every real story is truly about — how the human heart changes."- Karena Evans, director

This week, we're introduced to Cora Kozaris, who performs a piece with fellow dancers Justin Lopes and Amanda-May Wilson. Get to know a little bit about her.

Name: Cora Kozaris (@corakozaris)

Age: 28

Hometown: Toronto

Lives and works: Toronto (The Underground Dance Centre). "But projects often take me out of town."

Art: Contemporary dance. "But my work carries inspiration from all forms of movement."

Career highlights: If you watch Canadian TV, you've probably seen her work in action. She's done choreography for shows including YTV's The Next Star and CTV's NYE Bash in addition to music videos like  Aleesia's "Time's Up."

Her style in three words: "Raw, passionate and fearless. I like to bring honour to the darker aspects of life: suffering, pain, heartache."

Inspiration: "My grandfather represents everything I want to become in life. Mentally, emotionally and physically [he is] my biggest inspiration. He was a soccer player, but the appreciation he possessed for the world and everything around it makes me identify him as an artist." 

Proudest achievement: Carné, which debuted at Toronto's Dancemakers Centre for Creation in 2016.

"Carné will always be my most treasured creation. It was my first full-length show which I directed, choreographed, cast and produced. Carné is a powerful and dark interweaving of athleticism, emotion and artistry that carries viewers through a story of angst, longing and loss. The show has been developing for over two years — ever evolving and growing with me." 

What's next: "A dream of mine would be to take Carné on tour in 2018. Currently working towards obtaining a grant to filter into the process of creation. The bigger Carné can get, the more people we can spread the healing power of dance with."

From the director: "Canadians should be paying attention to this woman. From the moment I heard her voice, I felt strength, her talent, her passion for people, for dance and for art."

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