Aszure Barton, Class of 1993 (2022)

Aszure Barton is an award-winning choreographer who, for over 25 years, has created work that explores themes of human connection and physical form in surprising, touching, irreverent, and joyful ways. Her work is formed by the deep bonds she makes with dancers and a laser-like attention to detail that reveals the inherent wisdom of the body.

Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Aszure started tap dancing as a young child and moved to Toronto at 14 to attend Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS). Together with her classmates, she helped kickstart the Stephen Godfrey choreographic workshop, which is still ongoing today. 


After graduating she apprenticed with the National Ballet of Canada and then traveled throughout Europe where she was exposed to various choreographic languages. She then lived in Montreal before moving to New York City, working supplemental jobs like waitressing, producing her own work, and freelancing with other independent choreographers before founding her own company, Aszure Barton & Artists. Her company made its official premiere at the Montreal Fringe Festival followed by an inaugural season at NY’s Joyce Soho.


Soon after she became the first artist-in-residence at the Baryshnikov Arts Center in Manhattan. The next few years would find Aszure touring the globe with her own company and with Hell’s Kitchen Dance. It was around this time she choreographed the Broadway production of The Threepenny Opera starring Cyndi Lauper and Alan Cumming.


She has created works for many notable companies to date including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, Nederlands Dans Theater, Martha Graham Dance Company, Teatro alla Scala, The National Ballet of Canada, among many others. She was proclaimed official Ambassador of Contemporary Choreography in Alberta, she is a Bessie Award Honoree, and she has received distinctions including the prestigious Arts & Letters Award, joining the likes of Margaret Atwood, Oscar Peterson, and Karen Kain. As an educator, Aszure is regularly invited to collaborate with art institutions around the globe.


“My education at NBS taught me about resilience and the power of community,” says Barton. As a favourite memory from her time at NBS, Barton shares, “What comes to mind immediately is an image of my friends and I living our best lives in flamenco class with Jannie Berggren. The classes took place in the big studio with the massive doors opened up wide on to Maitland Street. The rhythms and the entire vibe felt empowering and so freeing!”


Photo credit: George Lange, 2022; Graeme Mitchel; Daile Carrazana