Author Archives: Olivia

michael gillis: he’s a dreamer

Today I went to visit my grandad in the hospital; his health has been deteriorating for quite some time. Seeing him so helpless nearly broke my heart. But just as I was starting to feel sorry for him, he flashed me one of his huge, classic smiles & gave me a warm embrace. I spent the rest of my time listening; to his one of a kind jokes followed by his contagious laugh, and so many stories. So many beautiful stories of his past.

He was the youngest of seven brothers and sisters, all of whom were raised by their single mother. His family was incredibly poor and at seventeen he left home to find work. “I was 300 miles away from home. Didn’t know where I was going. But I just kept on walking. It was either that or starve,” he told me. For years he worked and worked and worked. He spent years drifting from city to city.. wherever he could find work, barely getting by. Yet, while he is telling me this story, he continuously says how lucky he was.. to find the jobs, to meet his wife, to buy a home where they would eventually raise their family. Life has never been particularly easy for him but he never gives up hope. Even now, as he spends weeks in the hospital, unable to walk, he talks of how good it will feel when he goes home. He is a fighter.. a dreamer. He sees the good in every one he meets; he believes in the kindness of other human beings. Most of all, he believes in himself. 

As I sat and listened, I was in awe of the man sitting in front of me. I began to think of my own life.. how privileged I am. How I take basic human necessities for granted.. like the fact that I have a home to come back to every night, and no matter how far I fall there will always be someone there to catch me. Like the fact that I can go to school and do something that I absolutely love, every single day. I am lucky to worry about what piece of music I am going to use for my newest choreographic creation. I am so lucky. 

Going forward, I am going to keep this wonderful man in mind anytime I feel defeated or hopeless. I hope that sharing a portion of his story touches you in some way.

Infinite x’s and o’s




Sarah Spice

I’m kidding. Her real name is Sarah McManus.

But it’s funny thinking back on my oldest memories of Sarah. We were little ones; playing with Barbies, dancing in talent shows, covering ourselves in glitter for reasons only known to us.. and you guessed it.. singing and dancing to Spice Girls. That was one of our favourite pastimes. Sarah was “Sporty Spice” and I was “Baby Spice”. We would spend hours upon hours of rehearsing the dances, posing for pictures (GIRL POWER!) and picking out our wardrobe.

   Oh man, those were the days.Thinking about those times makes me grin like a loser.

   But our days as young Spice Girl maniacs are long gone and since then, we both found a common love for art and went on to pursue these passions at Etobicoke School of the Arts. Sarah studied the cello for four years at ESA..        and may I just say she is a kick ass musician! But it was in 2007, at ESA where she discovered another passion of hers.. photography. Sarah fell in          love with the concept of documentary and urban photography. In September, Sarah will be showcasing photos taken in Brodeaux and Soulac Sur-Mer in the South of France.

Sarah puts every ounce of her soul into everything she does, and her stunning photos are no exception!


Even though all those memories seem so far away and we have grown up since then, it’s comforting to know that through all the change and tough years, Sarah and I have somehow ended up just where we began; best friends.

❤ Liv

Nikolai Berda = Awesome

Nik is one cool cat. Just take a look at those dimples.

He keeps it real.

He also makes really awesome art!

I became friends with Nikolai in grade nine at Etobicoke School of the Arts. Since then he has moved on to study Industrial Design at Ontario College of Art and Design University. Over the years I have had the privilege to see Nik’s art grow and change with him, which is really something special.

Nik’s current work encompasses his beliefs in the art-making process – not letting anything go to waste. He believes a great deal in re-using and recycling materials and re-purposing them into new, ready to use medium. ‘Do it yourself’ is the core principle with which he makes his work.

He also makes his own paper.

Not only is Nik an awesome artist, he’s one of the most HILARIOUS people I’ve ever met. Seriously. He always comes up with these hysterical one liners.. which of course causes me to laugh until my face turns blue and tears are streaming down my face.. which rocks. I love that.

When you come and meet him at our show in September I’m sure he will have a similar effect on you!

*Note: Nik also does front flips.

❤ Liv

The Lovely Lara Roberts

Lovely Lara!

The world knows her as Lara, but to me she will always be Squash. I don’t know how it started, but somehow, since we met in Grade 9, we decided to nickname one another Squash. Both of us are Squash. I’m not sure why, but it’s stuck. Much like she stuck to my heart when I met her. You’ll see, when you meet her too, she’s super sweet and charismatic, and has one of the most angelic faces I’ve ever had the pleasure of staring at!! It’s funny though, because in school she would always get all the damsel in distress roles, the pretty wallflower, or the innocent bystander, halo overhead. When you get to know her, as I have, she’s actually crazy, in the best way possible. She also loves nature – you’ll often see her climbing trees, or picking up random leaves, flowers, and sticking them in her hair.

Not only is Lara a glowing person, and captivating dancer, she also makes jewelry, paints, draws, and makes sculptures. At our show in September, she will be showcasing and selling her beautiful jewelry. She was inspired to start creating jewelry when she met a glass bead maker in Nova Scotia, and was awestruck by the beauty and art in just a couple of small beads. Since then she has poured her love into making unique pieces, specializing in earrings, and hopes that they will find a good home! I have a pair of earrings that she gave to me as gift and they make me feel like a princess when I wear them, and so very, very loved!

Lara's beautiful work, waiting for a new loving home!

A fun fact about Lara:

She was once half a dragon for halloween (I was the other half).

❤ Liv