DJ school graduates 100th student


The 100th student from Mama Cutsworth’s DJ Academy for All Women and non-binary folk graduated on Saturday, March 11. Eleven first-time DJ’s celebrated the completion of the one-month DJ course by having a DJ recital and dance party at the Good Will Social Club. Sarah Michaelson, also known as Mama Cutsworth, a self-taught DJ with 12 years of experience in Winnipeg, started this program because she felt isolated being one of the few women DJ’s in the scene.

Five years ago, she started to train women and non-binary people to go behind the turntables and be confident with beat-matching, scratching, and crowd interaction. She said that her “piano recital” at the end of each session is really to make students realize how fun and how contagious DJ’ing can be. “I don’t hide that I have a political agenda behind the school,” said Michaelson. “To have a community that is not always represented behind the turntables is the whole point to the school.” Michaelson said that any man who asks to join is still helped and given guidance, but her classes are created as safe spaces for women. Stacey Abramson, also known as DJ Pushing 40, said that she’s there because Mama Cutsworth created that community of support for women and non-binary people to feel safe and to make music together.

“I mostly feel like throwing up, but I’m really excited because there’s a really great community here,” she said before her first set.

“I do stand-up and I perform so much, but I was so nervous about this,” said Lara Rae, a long-time Winnipeg stand-up comedian after her first DJ set. “But everyone is here to support everybody.” “[In] stand-up you have a somewhat antagonistic relationship with the audience,” said Rae. “This is like doing a TV show as a stand-up, because the crowds are so much on your side.” Growing up in the 70s, Rae said she had respect for the genre and after completing the program she has an even deeper respect for the genre. In attendance were former students, supporters of recent grads, and potential future students. “It’s outside of my comfort zone,” said Tara King, who’s building up her courage to sign up for the academy. “So I’m here experiencing whether it could be in my comfort zone.” After five years, the bi-annual DJ recitals are now a sold-out event and the waiting list for attending the academy is nearing 80.