For almost half a century, your School of the Arts, Media, Performance and Design has been at the vanguard of arts education. Our pioneering programs have been the launch pad for a generation of game-changing artists, performers, arts scholars and leaders.
Our world increasingly needs creative thinkers to ignite bold new ideas, invent transformative experiences and develop innovative solutions for global challenges. As part of our world-wide 15,000-strong alumni network, you are meeting these challenges.
AMPD’s mission is to inspire the adventurous talent leading the charge. Through intensive professional training, and in-depth academic studies in dance, design, digital media, film, music, theatre and visual art, we are unleashing the imaginations of our students and preparing our graduates to thrive in a world where the single most valuable asset is creativity.
We remain committed to excellence and experimentation and we look forward to collaborating with our faculty, students and alumni to redefine what the arts mean today and how they will be imagined tomorrow.
I’m deeply honoured to have this opportunity to build a next-generation art school at York and to celebrate this incredible journey with you. I’d love to hear what you think — your reflections on your time at York, your thoughts about the future of the arts and how you’re unleashing your creativity.
To share your story, visit the Alumni Survey.
We stand on the threshold of a new and radically different kind of future, one where the communication of ideas and their physical and virtual expression have extraordinary value. I’m so pleased that you’re a part of our ground-breaking journey! Let’s keep in touch.
AMPD Alumni Profiles
Luke Reece (BFA ’15), Obsidian Theatre Company’s Associate General Manager
Luke Reece is a 2015 graduate of York’s Theatre program, where he minored in Creative Writing and took courses in Devised Theatre and Playwriting along the way. Today, he is working as Obsidian Theatre Company’s Associate General Manager, and with Young People’s Theatre as an Apprentice Resident Artist-Educator. Both of these jobs came after placements through Obsidian’s Mentor/Apprentice Program. In 2016, Luke will have had a hand in producing thirteen new pieces of Canadian work.
One of the highlights of Luke’s time at York was having the opportunity to experience the interdisciplinary nature of the Theatre program. “I learned about how every single physical part of a production functions,” he says, speaking of his first-year crew shifts. However, the two courses that stand out the most to Luke are Theatre Management and Contemporary Canadian Theatre. “You need to know who is doing what, where, and now. These two courses that I took in my third year played an important role in where I am today.” Luke’s interest in the djembe led him to take music classes to further his skills, and his passion for writing plays, poetry, and short fiction resulted in a minor in Creative Writing. “The bottom line is that it’s hard to work and live as an artist by just being one thing,” he notes. “I crafted my degree at York in a way that has allowed me to wear multiple hats when necessary.”
After completing his first year at York, Luke’s long-time friend Ryan Ovas pitched him the idea of Little Black Afro (LBA) – a theatre company that would stage Luke’s original work and host fundraising and charity events. LBA launched in Streetsville, Mississauga with a double bill of two of Luke’s plays, and has since grown into a company that explores artistic collaboration both on and off the stage. “What started as a platform for my own voice is now a home for dozens of theatre artists who are beginning to develop their careers,” he says. “A real community has started to form, and I love it.” Luke is backed by Cesar Ghisilieri – the company’s resident photographer, Erika Madsen – the graphic designer, and Steph Raposo – LBA’s technical director and Luke’s partner-in- crime. The latter two are graduates of York, and connections Luke made while in school.
Since graduating, Luke has received funding from the Ontario Arts Council and the Toronto Arts Council for a project with LBA, Then They Fight Theatre (another York-born Theatre company), and his own play development. His play Definition won the Robert Beardsley Award for Young Playwrights presented by the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto this year, and a reading of the play took place in May. With Factory Theatre’s young creators unit, The Foundry, he finished a draft of a new work with three other playwrights, and at The Theatre Centre, Luke co-founded a bi-weekly conversation series called Dark Nights with Wayne Burns, bringing together the under-30 artists that are activators in the artistic community.
For Luke, the training at York gave him the confidence and the skills to go out into the industry and start creating and collaborating. “Little Black Afro Theatre and Luke Reece the producer/playwright/poet/performer have a responsibility to the theatre community,” he says. “We will nurture it; we will water new seeds, and leave safe spaces for stories to grow.”
LBA’s next show, Swan, written and directed by York alumnus Aaron Jan, has launched a funding campaign, and you can support their stories here: fwyc.ca/campaigns/swan-aaron-jan. Swan will be presented in association with Filament Incubator at the Theatre Passe Muraille Backspace from November 2nd-13th 2016.
Jessica Lowe (BFA ’15), Co-Founder of Nostos Collectives Dance Association
Jessica Lowe, a 2015 graduate of York’s Dance program, is the co-founder of Nostos Collectives Dance Association. She formed the not-for-profit company with her colleague Olivia Aubrecht in their final year at York, and together they strive to create performance and choreographic opportunities for local emerging artists in both Toronto and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. A Dartmouth native herself, Jessica has led Nostos Collectives to perform in two Atlantic Fringe Festivals, the Fundy Fringe Festival, and three self-produced shows in Halifax and Toronto. She is currently in the process of rehearsing for an upcoming show in Saint John, New Brunswick, and is also planning for the Nocturne Festival in Halifax in the fall.
During her time at York, Jessica valued the connections she made with people that continue to work in the dance industry today. She also enjoyed learning more about herself as an artist by having the opportunity to perform and choreograph her own work.
York prepared Jessica for the industry and the work she currently does with her company by giving her the chance to hone her dance and choreography skills, gain practical experience in production, and learn about the business and management side of the arts.
“I feel that other programs do not have as much freedom,” Jessica says about the Dance program at York. “Not only can you perform, but you can study production, history, or writing. York is very open minded and really lets students think outside the box and figure out their own ways that they would like to make a career in the arts.”
Fiona Yeung (BDes ’15), Material Design team at Google HQ California
A 2015 graduate of the York University/Sheridan joint program in Design (YSDN), Fiona Yeung is now on the Material Design team at Google HQ California, where she works as a User Experience Designer. She is also the Community Manager for XX+UX, a group of women working in User Experience that are dedicated to promoting diversity in their field.
Fiona credits YSDN as being one of the top design schools in Canada, but also notes its recognition in Silicon Valley as well as internationally. While attending the program, she enjoyed being able to explore a wide variety of design streams. “We are able to gain inspiration and perspective from more areas,” she mentions, “which helps us in the work that we do, and the problems we try to solve in our projects.” She believes that YSDN students are unique in their field because they leave the program as well-rounded artists with diverse backgrounds, but they all have a specialty focus, as well.
Being able to work in a group at YSDN prepared her for her current job, where her team works in a similar fashion. “The training at York is all about real-life projects,” she says. “Everything we do – from the brief to the final result – mirrors the way it would be handled in the industry, which was great practice for us.”
Outside of her program, Fiona enjoyed being Vice President of the University’s Dragonboat Team during her time at York.
In the past year, she has travelled to 13 countries, visiting places such as Western Europe, the Nordic, Western Canada, and West Coast/Southwest USA. She is also passionate about inspiring others, and has had the opportunity to speak at San Jose University, Duke University, and York/Sheridan about her design experiences.
Most recently, Fiona co-wrote an article with a fellow colleague geared towards students looking for their first jobs. The article made it to Medium’s Top 10 list the day it was published.
Maria De Sanctis (BFA ’15), Director – Cupid
Maria De Sanctis, who describes her time at York as “incredible,” graduated from Film Production with a minor in Visual Arts in 2015. “One of the greatest things about film school is that you are taught to make a film with limited resources,” she says. “The wonderful thing about this is that you are able to spend more time shaping the story and working with the actors, which is what really matters.”
Her short fiction film Cupid, which she worked on with her York fiction professor Tereza Barta, was chosen by the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) as one of the Top Ten Student Films of 2015. “The large amount of support from the faculty pushed me to flourish as a filmmaker,” she notes. “Many of my professors took the time to get to know me and understand the goals I was trying to achieve with my work, which is something I find rare in this industry.” Her success with Cupid also led her to direct a 15-second short film for TIFF.
After graduating from York, Maria went on to USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, where she continues to pursue her MFA in Film and Television Production. She has had many fantastic opportunities there, including taking classes with James Franco and shadowing successful directors. She will also have the chance to make her own feature film later on in the program.
With an acceptance rate of less than five percent, USC’s program is not easy to get into. “I believe I have York to thank for my acceptance,” says Maria. “I have been able to take the skills I learned at York and apply them to the work I am doing here.”
Nichie Enriquez (BFA ’15), Front-End Developer for Ellefson Technology
A 2015 graduate of the Digital Media program, Nichie Enriquez enjoyed courses such as ‘Interactive Performances’ and ‘Art and the Database’ during her time at York, as they allowed her to develop a new understand of and love for art. However, the turning point for her was collaborating with the Theatre Department on A Midsummer Night’s Dream. “It started my love for creating beautiful things through code,” she says. “From there on, my passions fell into place.”
Nichie’s biggest takeaway from York’s program was discovering how to be critical, creative, and clever in everything that she does. “The principle characteristic about my program was learning to cultivate inspiration among yourself and the people you surround yourself with.” she shares. “As a developer for a start-up, being someone that encourages motivation and creativity within their team makes all the difference in a productive team environment.”
Nichie is currently working as a front-end developer for Ellefson Technology, where she has had the opportunity to be a part of mobile projects such as FEAST, TAXplan Canada, and Digital Story Time Theater. She also works on small video game personal projects with Unity 2D in her spare time.
Natasha Roldán (BFA ’16), Musician
Natasha Roldán, a singer, songwriter, and composer inspired by Jazz and traditional Latin American and European music, graduated from York’s Music program in June of 2016. Her most memorable moments from the program include interviewing jazz artist Dave Holland, creating and premiering the New Chamber Competition Concert alongside Graduate student Jorge Gil, and representing York on JazzFM 91’s Jazzology show. She also enjoyed designing her own independent study project in her Honours Project class, planning and directing her own concert in her Recital class, and taking both the Jazz Profession and Career Development courses. “[They] provide excellent tools and hands-on experience to prepare you for the real world as a professional musician,” Natasha says.
In 2015, she released her EP No Apologies, which features her own original compositions and appearances by some of Toronto’s top jazz musicians. That same year, she won the Sorbara Award in Music and was nominated for Best Jazz Vocals at the Toronto Independent Music Awards, and 2016 saw her win the Ella Fitzgerald Award for Jazz Performance. Natasha was also a TEDx featured performer in 2013 and a Regional Semifinalist in CBC Music’s Searchlight Contest in 2014.
While studying at York, Natasha worked at the campus radio station, a chance she is thankful to have had. “Today most musicians are required to have experience in other areas, most of the time related to media,” she notes. “Having the opportunity to gain skills in this area has been a great complement to my career as an independent artist.”
Now that she is finished her degree, Natasha is traveling around Canada and abroad with her solo act and multilingual performance project, “Songs to Travel the World.” You can visit natasharoldan.com to learn more about her upcoming projects and releases, and can purchase her EP from all digital platforms, including iTunes and Spotify.
John Lowndes (BFA ’14), Photo Media Artist
Since graduating in 2014 with a BFA from York’s Department of Visual Art & Art History in the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design, emerging photo media artist John Lowndes has had quite a year, including two prestigious awards and associated exhibitions.
Lowndes was first honoured with a place in the Toronto Artist Project’s Untapped Emerging Artist Competition, resulting in a solo exhibition of Lowndes’ Remnants series as part of the Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival.
On the heels of the Untapped Emerging Artist Competition, Lowndes was selected by the York Region Arts Council and McMichael Canadian Art Collection for the prestigious Art Mentorship Program, during which he worked alongside experimental visual artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine. During the apprenticeship, Lowndes and d’Ornellas Levine created a body of work that culminated in a joint exhibition at the McMichael Gallery that opened Oct. 3.
Lowndes spoke about the experience of being mentored by d’Ornellas Levine, “Césan is a brilliant artist. Her approach to materiality and concept are already sparking new thoughts and approaches in me.”Regarding the support Lowndes received from the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, he said, “The McMichael Mentorship Program gives me freedom to produce an ambitious body of work that I wouldn’t have been comfortable creating without the backing of a gallery. Césan and I plan to treat this as a stepping stone in our collaboration, later expanding the work and continuing to exhibit together across Canada and internationally.”
Lowndes feels his training at York University provided a strong foundation for creative collaboration with an artist like d’Ornellas Levine. “While other universities and colleges have students focus entirely on artistic production, York’s curriculum also places a strong emphasis on concept and theory,”said Lowndes. “The curriculum is tailored to allow students to branch out and study concepts outside the traditional realms of art. Artistry today requires a great deal of scholarship, and York’s multidisciplinary approach to learning introduced me to many fields I have later introduced in my practice.”He went on to say, “The milestones I’ve reached thus far are thanks to the careful efforts of my professors in York’s Visual Art Program. They not only encouraged me to expand my style into new and uncharted territories, but they also pushed me to be critical and self-determined. And my former profs continue to support me now, more than a year after graduation, for which I’m grateful and honoured.”
Phoebe Sequino (BFA ’14), Video and Digital Communications Specialist
Phoebe Sequino is a recent York University graduate from The School of Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD). She has a BFA in Film Production with a hybrid focus on editing and sound designing. Currently Phoebe is working as a Video and Digital Communications Assistant at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, where she produces creative content, as well as programs the venue’s 99-screens for both performances and corporate events. As a part of her work, Phoebe also edits and designs several TV and radio commercials for The Sony Centre and has assisted in programming digital content for shows such as Canada’s Walk of Fame, JFL42, The Soweto Gospel Choir – Celebrate! and Sesame Street Live.
In addition to working at the Sony Centre, Phoebe is the Creative Editor and Sound Designer for an upcoming feature documentary directed by Patrick Alcedo, titled A Piece of Paradise.
Prior to graduating, Phoebe worked at York University as the Media Creator & Coordinator for the Office of Advising and Integrated Student Services (OAISS). Her most recent work was a short film commissioned by OAISS that orients new students to AMPD, which Phoebe directed, edited, narrated, production managed and animated.
Independently, Phoebe has worked on several short films within York University; taking on several roles including director, editor, sound designer, location sound mixer, production designer, production coordinator, and script supervisor. Most recently she was the location sound mixer and sound designer for the fictional short film drama titled MUNA (2015) directed by Keeya King, starring Mouna Traoré and Mazin Elsadig. Phoebe has also worked on productions produced by the Canadian Film Centre, as well as Deepa Mehta’s 2012 feature film Midnight’s Children.