Mahaila Patterson-O’Brien is an emerging choreographer in Vancouver, BC. She holds a BFA (Hons.) in Dance from SFU School for the Contemporary Arts where she studied with Judith Garay, Henry Daniel, Rob Kitsos, Cheryl Prophet and Marla Eist. She has also studied at The School for Contemporary Dancers in Winnipeg, MB, and at The University of Winnipeg. Other influential mentors have included Constance Cooke, Jung-Ah Chung, Claire French (Restless Productions), Jennifer Mascall (MascallDance), and Wen Wei Wang.
Her choreography revolves around form and abstract gestures through the use of unison, repetition, and complex patterns. These gestures are mostly contained. They may be masked, hidden or exposed by light. They are precise, they rarely devolve into chaos. They never emote. They are a blank canvas of abstract gesture, time, and space. The use of projections and light play a prominent role in her work creating architecture for space and punctuation for the movement. Many of her works are collaborations with composer and new media artist Remy Siu.
As a choreographer her work has been presented at multiple venues, including Dancing on the Edge 2018, Victoria Dance Days 2018 + 2019, Dance in Vancouver 2017, Project CPR (Choreographic Practice and Research), 12 Minutes Max (The Dance Centre), Dance Allsorts (New Works), ROMP! Festival of Dance 2015 + 2017(Victoria). The dance film Turquoise made in collaboration with filmmaker Sepehr Samimi was shown at Cannes Film Festival Short Film Corner, Montreal International Film Festival and NSI Online Film Festival.
She was selected to participate in the inaugural Dance Victoria Choreographic Lab in 2017 mentored by Wen Wei Wang and will be returning in 2019 under the mentorship of Justine A. Chambers and Susan Elliott.
In 2016 she came together with fellow artists Felicia Lau and Erika Mitsuhashi to form the collective Farouche. They made their debut with a self produced show at the Gold Saucer. They have gone on to participate in the Simon Fraser University’s SCA Alumni Dance Lab (2017), were artists and residence at the Anvil Centre (2017), facilitated a workshop with the first year students of the SFU Dance program (2017), and premiered their first full length work, We Talk Disco One Day, at the Gold Saucer (2018).
Currently, she serves on the board of directors for the Training Society of Vancouver.