St. John’s, NL born and based, Sarah Joy Stoker works in the realms of contemporary dance, interdisciplinary performance and installation. She keeps issues of ecology and humanity as the focus of her work, believing that art is an active force in life and should therefore be a vehicle for action in our communities. She is passionate about our relationship to the Earth and tries to speak to the fractured nature of it.
Dancing since childhood and after graduating from the School of Toronto Dance Theatre in 1996, Sarah worked as an independent dance artist in Toronto and Montreal performing for choreographers and companies, David Pressault, Lynda Gaudreau’s Compagnie de Brune, Pigeons International, George Stamos and others, nationally and internationally. Her own work has been presented throughout Canada, in New York and Italy.
After returning and being based in St. John’s, NL since the early 2000s, Sarah works tirelessly to generate increased opportunities for creation, exploration and experimentation within the dance and interdisciplinary communities. She founded Gutsink Productions Inc. to further her own work as well as Collective Gutsink, a local interdisciplinary group dedicated to experimental site specific extended duration performances and events, free to the public. Through Collective Gutsink Sarah also worked to invite and support travel to and engagement in NL with visiting artists like Lynn Snelling, Deborah Dunn, Christopher House, Philip Szporer and Lisle Ellis.
Sarah was Festival Co-ordinator, board member and chair of Neighbourhood Dance Works and the Festival of New Dance between 2003 and 2010. She has been on The Canada Council’s Dance Advisory Committees, is a dance advisor to the Sound Symposium, has been a board member of Eastern Edge Gallery, the only artist run visual art gallery in St. John’s, as well was a board member of The Association of Cultural Industries of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Sarah continues to create her own dance and interdisciplinary work based out of St. John’s, while exploring as many collaborative exchanges with the local and national communities as possible. In recent years Sarah has been part of the Candance Network’s Creative Exchange, Body of Water, with Anne Troake, Aimée Dawn Robinson and Wojciech Mochniej (Yukon Arts Centre, Springboard Performance, Neighbourhood Dance Works), site specific improvisational performances in collaboration with Omar Badrin (visual artist, NL), as part of the inaugural month long Bonavista Biennale, Sandy Cove Beach, Elliston, Bonavista Bay, NL, the CanDance Network Creative Exchange Remix Project (St. John’s (NDW), Montreal (Studio 303) and Edmonton (Mile Zero), the past two 8Days gatherings (Toronto and Woody Point, NL), as well as a New Chapter project, the NL Dance Project with Christopher House and Anne Troake.
“Arms slice apart the air as legs thrust to the back into long lunges — downward angles contrasting an upright torso. She’s precise and dynamic with decision behind every movement. A coltish energy punctuated by stillness.”
- Amy Bowring, Navigating Home: Artists of the NL Dance Project, August, 2018
"...the always amazing Sarah-Joy Stoker...seems to take the chaotic sensation of too many thoughts in one’s head… the experience of having no idea what to do next, but wanting and needing to do many things, that experience that lies somewhere between panic and desire… and turns that into a symphony of meaningful, felt, phenomenological experiences for both herself and the audience. "
- Jenifer Dyer, Festival of New Dance 2013 blog
“The performance displaced our rushed workday sense of time...[and] achieved a lasting effect, at once hypnotic and provocative.” - Noreen Golfman, The Independent, May, 2005
“Stoker's installation...was the richest piece of the festival for me. [It] is both an eloquent hymn to nature and a lament for human destruction. The piece radiates a poetic series of shifting and provocative images.”
- Paula Citron, The Globe and Mail, June, 2006