From Pain to Purpose.

After the loss of her dear cousin Laura Peters due to mental health issues, Toronto Choreographer Michelle Crossman knew she had to make a difference. So, for one night of the year, she dedicates a performance entitled “Let the Elephants Dance,” an artistic production that tells the story of internal struggle and triumph. It’s a fundraising gala with a silent auction to aid in the education of self-care. Michelle incorporates dance, acting, spoken word, and music to beautifully capture the human experience in ways that lift the stigma and opens a dialogue for mental health awareness.

Photo Gallery by Francis Shirzadi

mental health awareness - elephants dance

Bruises performed by Avery Baird, Eilish Conaway, Kailee Martin, Saya Prpic, and Elle Sheehan

Questions Unanswered

When someone you love is no longer with us, it can be on constant replay in your head. How did I miss the signs? How did I neglect to reach out during those crucial moments?

Mental Health - Relationship

Novacane performed by Matthew Morales

Mental Health

Bruises performed by Avery Baird, Eilish Conaway, Kailee Martin, Saya Prpic, and Elle Sheehan

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Warrior performed by Stella Hovarth

It Starts With Sharing

The performances at this gala feel intimate and liberating, exploring universal thoughts that we tend to keep private when they don’t reflect our most confident self. It creatively touches on the importance of keeping communication alive, especially if we’re feeling down. We owe it to ourselves to foster close and healthy relationships.

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Apple Juice performed by Michelle Crossman & Kiriana Stanton

Mental Health - let the elephants dance

Hey performed by Heather Jefferys, Christian Lavigne, Jake Myles, Lucie Schmidt, and Chrystal Tam

Apple Juice performed by Michelle Crossman & Kiriana Stanton

Beyond Dance

Some of the highlights include a powerful rendition of the Wayfaring Stranger, a song performed by Kyra Mastro. Kyra uses a loop box to layer parts of her vocals to create the effect of a choir in perfect harmony that sent chills throughout the crowd. Jordan Sterling, also made an appearance, reading a poem entitled Goliath touching on relatable encounters with adversity.

Song and poetry performances

Pictured Left: Kyra Mastro Singing Wayfaring Stranger  –  Pictured Right: Jordan Sterling reciting poetry entitled Goliath

Powerful Stories

There was a personal testimony shared on behalf of Hernan Munoz, that spoke of his darkest moments before receiving treatment with the Canadian Mental Health Association. Followed by guest speaker Jamieson Scott, who is the Toronto Manager for Kids Help Phone shedding light on the impact this service makes within the city.

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Jamieson Scott of Kid’s Help Phone

You Are Not Alone

Scott acknowledges that someone who has mental illness can even find an anonymous phone call to be riddled with anxiety, even if it’s to reach out for help making it crucial to have alternative forms of communication available. For example, Scott shared a story of a young man’s life that was hanging in the balance. This man had stood on top of a bridge, and the only thing that helped him step down from the ledge was a conversation over text message with an operator from Kids Help Phone. When it comes to saving a life, even the smallest efforts can make the biggest difference.

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Ink & Paper Performed by Tasha Evans, CJ Jackson, Kaitlin Kawam, Rylie Osborne, Michelle Ou, Dakota Walker, and Bri Zubri

Michelle and her father

Michelle and her proud father

Getting Rid of The Stigma

Dealing with Mental Health issues is more common than we think. There is no guilt in the sharing game. It’s ok to be vulnerable and let people in. The gala went on with dances focusing on love, light, and resilience and finally closed with a standing ovation!

That’s A Wrap! With Producer Michelle and her partner Kiriana

Outstanding Acts

Other noteworthy performances include “Colour Me In” with Jessica Mannara in collaboration with Valeria Nunziato. Giulia Guadagni’s Hallelujah which features a striking group dance. House Party by Aaron-Aquino & Nicole Rosove, that sends a lively boost of energy through the crowd.

Indiana Mehta’s solo act of Phoenix brings stillness to the room. Let’s not forget, Are You Afraid Of The Dark? With Lianne Tammi. Tammi also collaborates with Johnny Tran to create a captivating performance entitled Resilience. Together Again by Teniya Brooks is an uplifting dance, featuring white costumes. Then there is Opposition with Jessica Ford & Erin Jacobson, a performance that weighs in on yin and yang energy. Lastly, there is Got It In You, an empowering group performance created by Michelle to close the show.

In Loving Memory of:

Tyler Nathan Cook 1993-2019

Ben Jeffery Sandison 2002-2019

Be part of the movement and support Michelle’s production

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