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ISSUE 62 • SUMMER 2019 • Choreographic Lab + How to Look at Contemporary Dance + more…
, Videos + s o phot fo more in eb w on the
Doug Letheren in Kidd Pivot’s Revisor. Photo © Michael Slobodian.
Summer at Dance Victoria Studios
Creation Centre Sponsors
2 Footnotes • Issue 62 • Summer 2019
Now in its 23rd Season, Dance Victoria, a non-proﬁt charitable society, brings the World’s Best Dance to the Royal Theatre and supports the development of new dance for the international stage from its studios in Quadra Village. DanceVictoria.com
Dance Seen Fine Dining in la Belle Province BY STEPHEN WHITE
Dance Victoria Board: Susan Howard
Vice President René Peloquin Treasurer
Heather Lejeune Kari McLay Andrew Newcombe Colin Nicol Kirsty Thomson Emily Zeng
Staff: Executive Producer
Bonnie Light Advertising
Events Manager Pamela Sanderson Hire a Somm If you’d like to volunteer for Dance Victoria please visit DanceVictoria.com and complete the online volunteer form. Studios and Ofﬁce: 111 – 2750 Quadra Street Victoria, BC V8T 4E8 250-595-1829 DanceVictoria.com for trailers, tickets and more information This special issue of Footnotes is written by Stephen White and edited by Anne Moon.
“DIRECTLY ACROSS THE STREET from your hotel is Hotel Dieu, a hospital established by the Augustine sisters in the late 17th century,” our exceptional tour guide told us. It was the ﬁrst day Dance Victoria’s hosted tour was in Québec City. My colleague, Bernard Sauvé, led the tour to la belle province over eight days. Our guide then pointed out the entrance to the convent next door to the hospital. He said, ”Over the years, the sisters have had to be very enterprising to continue to sustain themselves.” And indeed they were. The convent was now a restaurant with a reputation for delicious multi-course meals. Among the 28 of us on the tour was a couple we’ll call Harry and Diana who had been married for 60-plus years. From time to time, we’d see them holding hands or sitting with their arms around each other, speaking quietly. In its way, the depth of affection they had for each other was inspiring to witness. The next day, Harry and Diana decided to have lunch at the convent. Off they went, but once inside they were uncertain which way to turn so they took a left turn and walked quite a distance down a long hallway until they found themselves in a dining room. A woman in a crisp white uniform approached them to ask if she could be of service. Harry said, “We’re here for lunch. We hear the food is great.” “Terriﬁc,” she said. “We don’t get many tourists here. But I’ll let the chef know.” Minutes later the chef was at their table. He repeated, “Thanks for coming in. We don’t get many tourists here. What can I get for you?” “How about a couple of cheeseburgers?” Harry replied. At the end of their lunch the chef returned to their table to ask how they enjoyed their meals. “The cheeseburgers were delicious,” said Harry. Then the chef pulled out a business card and encouraged Harry and Diana to tell everyone on the tour about the great cheeseburgers at the hospital’s cafeteria. FN
Stephen White photo © Tracy Smith. Québec City photos courtesy of Michael Curnes and Stephen White.
DanceVictoria.com • 3
Chrystal Dance Prize Emerging Artists Winners Announced Pay Your Age Sponsored by
Pay Your Age tickets for 12 – 29 year olds for all 2019/20 Dance at the Royal performances will be on sale starting September 3, offering a great way to share your love of dance with a young friend or family member. Just call 250-386-6121 or visit the box ofﬁce. Proof of age required at pick up. Please note: PYA tickets are subject to a $5 service charge.
Holly Loves Simon In early June a committee of four met to review the applications Dance Victoria had received for its Chrystal Dance Prize and selected two recipients: Briana del Mundo from Calgary, who is currently studying at the Juilliard School in New York, and Mikaela Kos (Nanaimo) who is continuing her training at Palucca Hockschule für Tanz in Dresden, Germany. Both were awarded $3,000 from the Chrystal Dance Fund that was initiated by a bequest from Dr. Betty “Chrystal” Kleiman in 2008. It was Dr. Kleiman’s wish that resources be made available to support western Canadian dancers training at an international institution. The fund is held at the Victoria Foundation. When she learned that she had been selected, Mikaela wrote to say: “It is an absolute honour to have been selected as a recipient of the 2019 Dance Victoria Chrystal Dance Prize Scholarship for Emerging Artists. Growing up on Vancouver Island, I have had the privilege of taking part in various experiences generated through Dance Victoria whether it was attending the adjudicator workshops at the Dance Victoria studios during the many Victoria DanceWorks Competitions I attended through the years; excitedly attending my ﬁrst professional school audition in the same studios for Canada’s National Ballet School, which would lead to my attending the school and further strengthen my determination to have ballet and contemporary in my future; or sitting at the Royal Theatre dreaming of how I would one day be performing for audiences like the multitude of talented companies I had the opportunity to see perform there with the support of Dance Victoria. There have been so many more ways that Dance Victoria has inspired me but there is no denying the impact your organization has had on shaping me into the dancer I am today. I am so thankful. To be awarded this scholarship through Dr. Betty “Chrystal” Kleiman’s bequest is such an honour. I will carry her name with me throughout my 2019-2020 school year knowing the full privilege of this support and the meaning of the award.” Pretty nice, eh? FN
We are so proud and happy to announce that Dance Victoria’s excellent Production Manager, Holly Vivian, is marrying Simon Farrow, Assistant Technical Director at UVic’s Phoenix Theatre. Can you imagine their pillow talk? Simon has been on the scene for a while and we all approve (because you know, Holly is pretty special to us, so our approval has some weight). We’ve even met his family! He is a super guy who has shared his love of sailing with Holly. We wish them every success.
Breaking News! In early July it was announced that Emily Molnar, Artistic Director of Ballet BC had accepted an offer to lead the famed Nederlands Dans Theatre (located in the Hague) as Artistic Director. NDT is actually two companies. The main company has 30 dancers and NDT II (the junior company) has 16 dancers. Molnar will leave Ballet BC in the summer of 2020 so we will have one last chance to fete her when the company comes to Victoria in March. We are super excited for Emily. Clearly the remarkable work she has done at Ballet BC has been recognized.
4 Footnotes • Issue 62 • Summer 2019
Looking at Contemporary Dance
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet
Tania Pérez-Salas Compañía de Danza
Years ago, when I was embarking on this new career as producer of a dance series, I read somewhere that concert dance is closer to music than theatre. That statement changed the way I look at dance. As humans, we’re hard-wired to ﬁnd story, to make sense of what we see. But in contemporary dance, often there is no story. It’s similar to a symphony. The way into an orchestral piece is through the images and emotions the music evokes. Contemporary dance allows for an emotional story-telling. The genre, “contemporary dance”, evolved as a new dance form in the middle of the last century. It borrowed from ballet, modern and jazz styles. A contemporary dancer combines the strong legwork of ballet with an elastic spine. When you think of it, in ballet the torso is generally rigid, upright. The arms extend from shoulders that are themselves squared to the ground, creating a frame. As early as the turn of the last century, dancers such as Isadora Duncan and Ruth St. Denis, Ted Shawn and later, Martha Graham, rejected the formalism of ballet. Graham, the mother of modern dance, introduced a new technique of contraction and release that mirrors how we breathe (inhalation/exhalation). At the same time as Graham was developing her technique, in the ballet world George Balanchine was developing what he would call “neoclassical ballet”— using the ballet vocabulary but pushing it to an extreme. His ballets are characterized by intense speed, deep knee bends (pliés) and a focus on line and patterns. The arms of a Balanchine dancer are straighter, and in arabesque (body supported on one leg with the other extended horizontally backward) the pelvis is opened to the audience, exaggerating the height of the position. But perhaps Balanchine’s most radical departure from classicism was his development of abstract ballets, a move away from storytelling. His choreographies were responsive to the musical score and capable of engendering a strong feeling or mood in the audience. As a result, the public became more interested in a dancer’s ability, their technique and skill. The choreography became more of the audience’s focus. Balanchine once said, “When you have a garden of pretty ﬂowers,
you don’t demand of them, ‘what do you mean? What is your signiﬁcance?’ Dancers are just ﬂowers, and ﬂowers grow without any literal meaning, they are just beautiful… A ﬂower doesn’t tell you a story. It is in itself a beautiful thing.” The above is certainly true of a Balanchine work and work by other choreographers, as we’ll see in Aspen Santa Fe Ballet’s triple bill (November 2019). But in contemporary dance, often the choreographer is intent on saying something, or at least evoking an emotional response. This will be most evident in the work of Tania Pérez-Salas Compañía de Danza (May 2020). The other works on our upcoming season include Kidd Pivot’s Revisor, which would be considered Dance Theatre. It certainly tells a story: in fact it is a dance created to a recorded script. The dancers are the characters in the play. In creating the piece choreographer Crystal Pite wrote: “Personally, I am moved by story, character, and language. My work over the past 15 years has often been fuelled by my curiosity to deconstruct, translate and deliver story through the body, and I think that my most affecting work has been the most narrative. I don’t want the muteness of dance to be a barrier to working with a complex story or idea.” That leaves us with Ballet BC’s Romeo + Juliet, which is a retelling of a very familiar story. For me, the pleasure in this particular production is the stark, beautiful aesthetic and the masterful choreography most evident in the group work. When I saw the premiere in Vancouver in February, 2017, I felt as if choreographer Medhi Walerski had an incredible range or enormous palette and the ability to make unique choices that propel the story forward. He is a wonderful storyteller. In the end, the genre of contemporary dance is actually a very big tent that has room for a wide range of expression. I look forward to hearing what you think this season. FN
DanceVictoria.com • 5
Annual Choreographic Lab As I write, the excitement is mounting as we count down the days to Dance Victoria’s third Choreographic Lab, July 22 through August 3. The Lab this year will be led by Vancouver dance artist Justine Chambers and local (veteran) dance artist Susan Elliott. Three choreographers who participated in either Year One (2017) and Two (2018) are returning. They are Angela Mousseau, Kelly Hobson and Mahaila Patterson-O’Brien. Dance Victoria has also engaged a company of six dancers and two apprentice dancers. Days during the Lab start with a 90-minute professional level technique class. Following the class, Chambers and Elliott will assign a task to the choreographers who, with the dancers, will spend the afternoon in our three studios making material. At 5 pm, the entire group will share and critique the day’s work. Based on the experience of the past Labs, this intensive environment stretches everyone’s creative muscle. Without exception, the choreographers surprise themselves. While they may come into the Lab with ideas they’d like to explore, they quickly run through these by day three or four and must come up with something fresh and new on the spot. The challenge for the dancers is to remain open to the different way that each of the three choreographers approaches making work. One choreographer may look to the dancers to contribute to their composition through improvisation. Others have a very set idea of what they want — asking the dancers to interpret what they have in mind. The Lab also provides a safe place for choreographers to fail. Not every idea works, but those that fail can provide the strongest learning moments. FN
Best of the 2019 Choreo Lab
Rack Cards & Post Cards
Saturday, August 3 | 5:00 – 7:00 pm Dance Victoria Studios Please RSVP to rsvp@DanceVictoria.com See the best pieces created in this year’s lab and, after the showing, join us in the lobby for a reception where you can meet-and-mingle with the dancers and choreographers. A highlight of the summer, we are pleased to offer this event for free although donations to help offset the costs of the reception are always appreciated. This program is generously supported by the RBC Emerging Artist Program, Jawl Bundon LLP and D’Ambrosio Architecture and Urbanism.
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6 Footnotes • Issue 62 • Summer 2019
Dance Victoria Studios A Summer of Creativity Each June when the dance classes wind down for the summer, we are able to reclaim our studios and provide them to artists developing new work. This summer we have been pleased to welcome Dab Dance with dancers from South Korea and Malaysia working with David Ferguson of Suddenly Dance Theatre. Crystal Pite (Kidd Pivot) was in the building, doing some research for a few hours each day for a week while visiting with her family. Our Choreographic Lab welcomes a total of 13 artists from Vancouver, Victoria and Mexico. In August, Vancouver’s Vanessa Goodman will be working with New York’s Belinda McGuire on a piece that will premiere in Vancouver this October. In early September, former Ballet BC dancer Alexis Fletcher will work with Seattle’s Andrew Bartee on a piece that is also premiering in Vancouver this fall. Seems our dream of being a hub for international dance creation is now a reality. FN
Bernard and I recently returned from Vancouver’s Dancing on the Edge Festival. This was the festival’s 31st year, making it Canada’s longest running dance festival. Each year Artistic Director, Donna Spencer pulls together an eclectic mix of seasoned artists and emerging talents and presents a series of mixed bill programs over ten days. The audience typically experiences three short works on a program of about one hour in length. The quality is always mixed but 2019 was a particularly strong year. Though we didn’t see it, former Ballet BC dancer Rachel Meyer was getting a lot of buzz for her sold-out “off festival” work in a warehouse. Certainly someone we will keep our eyes on as she develops. Longtime dance artist Helen Walkely created a new work entitled John based on the disappearance of her brother in 1969 at the age of 24. Expertly crafted with very sensitive performances by Company 605’s Josh Martin and freelance actor/dancer Billy Marchenski, the work included letters written by John and his parents in the weeks leading up to his disappearance, as well as police reports. It was a simple, moving, wistful memory piece that I believe will have a long life. Tara Cheyene Friedenberg has a hysterically funny new work tentatively titled The Body Project. Friedenberg’s comedic skills continue to get stronger and stronger, and this piece that included four additional women was very clever. We would love to have you see it in Victoria but the question is when and how. The real standout for me, though, was Josh Martin who not only performed beautifully in Walkely’s John, but also danced solo in Karen Jameison’s remount of a 40-year-old piece entitled Sisyphus. Lean, trim, ﬂexible, muscular, and humble Martin is currently dancing in top form — the best we’ve ever seen him perform. It was a great event. Lovely to witness the depth and range of work being created in Vancouver. FN
2017 Choreographic Lab. From top left: Eowynn Enquist, Avery Smith, Matthew Wyllie, Isak Enquist, Emily Faris, Seiji Suzuki. Video stills: Amberlee Allen
Dancing on the Edge
DanceVictoria.com • 7
Subscriber Survey Results
Thank you to everyone who participated in Dance Victoria’s annual end-of-the-year subscriber survey. A full 44% of households contacted completed the survey. This is an amazing number reﬂective of what we have known for a long time: that you are engaged, interested and unafraid to share your opinions! This year we were so overwhelmed with your write-in questions we hired a local media analysis ﬁrm to collate your responses. Here’s what we learned:
We are very happy to report that we have signed agreements with a total of 33 sponsors for our 2019/20 season, and we still have a couple of irons in the ﬁre. It is wonderful to have the support of so many local businesses that recognize the value of the arts in our community. All our 2018/19 sponsors have returned this season plus we are pleased to welcome new sponsors Andy Stephenson (Sotheby’s Realty) and Steve Tranﬁeld (mōdev construction).
• Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal’s Dance Me was your favourite performance (although all four Dance at the Royal series ranked high) • 78% of you read this newsletter • 89% responded that the quality of this year’s program is consistent with or better than past years. We also got a little feedback (OK, a goodly amount of feedback) about the curtain warmers that Bernard and I do before all the shows. It seems that there is a split opinion. Some of you think we are hilarious (thank you) and others, well let’s just say they were less generous. My favourite comment was, “Get rid of the muppets at the beginning of the show!” So be it resolved here and now, captured in writing, that it is my commitment that Bernard and I will work diligently to make the curtain warmer shorter and sweeter. You gave us a challenge and we will meet it! Once again, thanks for being part of the survey. FN
DFH Realty Delivers! Just this week, DFH Realtors Dorothee Friese and Terry Moore walked a cheque into Dance Victoria because they had sold yet another house through a Dance Victoria referral. This program continues to provide a win, win, win situation. The realtor wins, you get expert service when you sell or buy, and Dance Victoria receives 10% of the realtor’s commission. If you’re about to jump into the real estate market, call DFH and mention Dance Victoria. Thank you Dorothee and Terry!
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8 Footnotes • Issue 62 • Summer 2019
Legacy Circle Recently, a group of individual dance lovers have approached Dance Victoria to discuss leaving gifts (large and small) in their wills and estate plans. Dance Victoria works with the Victoria Foundation to ensure principal investments are held in perpetuity and are matched by granting agencies such as Heritage Canada often doubling the value of the donation. It is thanks to these visionary supporters and their desire to nurture the future of arts in our community that we can ensure Dance Victoria remains a vital force for generations to come. If you are interested in learning more please contact Stephen White, firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-595-1829.
Next BEST OF THE 2019 CHOREO LAB Saturday, August 3 | 5:00 – 7:00 pm Dance Victoria Studios Please RSVP to rsvp@DanceVictoria.com
AUGUST 15 Early Bird Savings on Nutcracker tickets (through September 15)
SEPTEMBER 3 Single Tickets and PYA Tickets on sale! DanceVictoria.com for tickets or McPherson Box Ofﬁce at 250-386-6121.
OCTOBER 24 Cherish: A Glamorous Evening of Fashion and Philanthropy Doors at 6:00 pm, historic Crystal Garden. DanceVictoria.com for tickets or McPherson Box Ofﬁce at 250-386-6121 Currently on sale for $85.
NOVEMBER 15 + 16 Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Royal Theatre. Triple Bill featuring award winning pianist Joyce Yang
NOVEMBER 18 Tickets on sale to the general public. Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo (Feb 4, 2020)
NOVEMBER 29 THROUGH DECEMBER 1 Ukrainian Shumka Dancers’ Nutcracker accompanied by the Victoria Symphony
Dance Victoria's Footnotes 62 features Choreographic Lab, Looking at Contemporary Dance + Chrystal Dance Prize Emerging winners + more.
Published on Jul 22, 2019
Dance Victoria's Footnotes 62 features Choreographic Lab, Looking at Contemporary Dance + Chrystal Dance Prize Emerging winners + more.