Creativity from the Ground UP: A Conversation with Shanique Peart

Headshot of Shanique Peart. Background is green leaves.
Shanique Peart. Photo by Shamara Peart.

Shanique Peart is a Kingston-based multidisciplinary artist who mixes performance and media, with a focus on dance and photography. She’s also a delightful person to chat with—we met for the first time last week, and within minutes it felt like catching up with an old friend. 

With two artist residencies and a festival performance around the corner, Peart has a full summer of creative projects planned. As we sat in the park together—she loves the outdoors—Peart told me about her upcoming Local Arts Residency, Twofold Residency, and this year’s Ground UP Dance Festival

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Peart’s creative journey began with dance. “I started as a self-trained dancer, and over the years, that has brought me into a lot of pre-professional and professional spaces where I’ve been able to train in different styles. When I started dance school, before the pandemic, I realized I could combine dance and photography.”

Her passion for dance and photography has led to some amazing opportunities. “I’m about to start two residencies this summer, which is so exciting. Moving to Kingston has brought a new energy and joy, and gratitude for my practice. It’s been really cool to feel re-energized and hop back into it with both feet. I grew up doing so many things—dance, music, theatre. As I got older, it fizzled out… Now, I’m in this space where I am trying to fully be the multidisciplinary artist that my inner child has always wanted.”

Peart’s first big project is a Local Artist Residency with the  City of Kingston at the Kingston Grand Theatre, where she’s working alongside Toronto-based dancer Shenel Williams. “We will be working on a piece called  Adaptations 2, building off of Adaptations, which we produced in 2020. It originally started as Shenel’s individual journey, but now it’s become a collaboration piece about the BIPOC journey as an artist, navigating that space, taking up space and being present, but also the importance of finding your people. Finding community and then embarking on that journey. 

“That’s also our story as friends—we’re very close outside of dance. We met at the York University dance program… It’s been really beautiful to find people who look like you and want to do what you do, and to link arms, in a sense, and connect and stay connected.”

After developing Adaptations 2 at the Grand, Peart and Williams will be performing the piece at the Ground UP Dance Festival. Peart is looking forward to this opportunity to share their story. “It’s a body of work and a body of art, but it’s also our story. What is going to be portrayed is completely authentic to our own individual journeys, starting as self-trained dancers, and then making our way into the professional dance space. We’ve been wanting to do this piece for four years. So it’s amazing, because we have the space to do it, and we also have the budget to do it.”

Peart is also part of the inaugural Twofold Residency, which offers emerging BIPOC artists creative space at Union Gallery in July and Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre in August. For the first half of this residency, Peart plans to focus on studio photography. “I do a lot of my photography outdoors—I love the blues and the greens and the yellows. And so you see that a lot in my work. But what that means is that half of the year, I mostly don’t shoot, because it’s winter, and it’s cold outside. So for the first half, I’m going to be working on studio photography, and getting that set up, which is so, so exciting. And then the other half of the Twofold, I am going to be working on dance pieces and songs that I’ve been wanting to capture for years. I’m hoping to do a studio, backyard singing session. So I’m hoping to bring on some artists from Kingston as well to do that.”

There’s something special about this residency’s self-directed pace. “The beauty of the Twofold Residency is it’s specifically designed for BIPOC artists to just kind of create—no pressure, just do what you do. And so I feel so blessed, because I’ve not only been given the opportunity to have resources, but I’ve also been given the gift of time to just do whatever I need… And so that’s the mindset going into the residency. I’m excited because I don’t know what’s going to be the outcome. I don’t know what the projects are going to look like, but I know what I’m going to put into it. And I know the seeds I’m going to plant. So that’s been really cool to dream and imagine.”

In the meantime, Peart is gearing up for Ground UP, which begins on Monday, July 8th. Peart has been involved with the festival as a photographer since its inception, and this year she’s on the Board of Directors and will be performing as a featured artist. “We have a whole week full of activities—open level yoga classes, open level contemporary classes, Zahra [Badua] is hosting an open level Afro-Caribbean class, and we have Peggy Baker coming in, who will be teaching classes and also presenting a show called unmoored. So that’s taking up Monday to Thursday, and then Friday and Saturday in the evening we’ll have the main stage performances.

“Each year, we have more artists coming on board, we have more performances. I feel very blessed to have been there from year one and continue to see it grow—especially knowing how much work, love, and dedication have come from [Festival Director] Kay Kenney and [Festival Producer] Camille Spencer creating this space for professional dance in Kingston. We have performances from Kingston—we absolutely want to shed a light on local talent and local artists—and we also have people from Montreal, we have people from Toronto.” 

Seeing the support that Ground UP received at its Spring UP Fundraiser in April has stoked Peart’s excitement for this year’s festival. “There were so many new faces and it was beautiful. There was dancing, there was singing, people were slow dancing together. It felt like community to its core. And we’re shaking things up now—people are getting curious. And now’s the time to get involved.”

Shanique Peart is a Kingston-based multidisciplinary artist with a passion for creation, dance and photography. Find Shanique at

Ground UP Dance Festival takes place from July 8th to 13th, 2024. Tickets and more information can be found here.


  • Haley Sarfeld

    Haley Sarfeld (she/they) works as a theatre critic for the Kingston Theatre Alliance and Kingston Whig-Standard. As a playwright, performer, and composer-lyricist, she has been featured in the Shortwave Theatre Festival, Watershed Festival: Reimagining Music Theatre, and the Kick & Push Festival. Since completing her MA in Cultural Studies at Queen's University, Haley has worked in administrative and marketing roles for a variety of local arts organizations. Haley's writing can be found year-round in the Skeleton Press, where she contributes themed crossword puzzles and writes articles about sidewalks, dreams, and the radio. She has also been known to air small-city drama in Intermission Magazine. Photo by Jeff Henderson.

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