Page 1

March/April 2014

Dance Central A Dance Centre Publication

Content What will we see next? A conversation with Crystal Pite Page 1

EU Travellogue by Mirna Zagar Page 4

The Gathering Web Forum Page 9

Thinking Bodies A conversation with Rosario Ancer Page 10

Lola Award 2014 Page 15


Welcome to the March/April 2014 issue of Dance Central.

"What will we see next?"

A conversation with Crystal Pite

Choreographer and performer Crystal Pite is a former company member of Ballet British Columbia and William Forsythe’s Ballett Frankfurt, and Artistic Director of Kidd Pivot (www.kiddpivot.org). A remount of her work ''The Tempest Replica' opens in Vancouver on March 6, 2014, in preparation for a tour.

This issue features a conversation with Crystal Pite, the

AK: The first time we met, you were on your way to the Frankfurt

Artistic Director of Kidd Pivot, about her year as the recip-

Ballet, who had sent you a twenty page contract in German and

ient of the inaugural Lola Award—which is about to be

you weren't entirely sure what to make of it, so I helped trans-

awarded for the second time this March—and about her

late it. I am glad to see that it all worked out well...

upcoming work, which includes a remount of The Tempest Replica that is about to go on tour.

CP: Oh, yes, I remember!

Mirna Zagar has just returned from a month's excursion

AK: I recently had a conversation with Jeanne Holmes who was

across Europe, and has sent a travellogue of her discover-

here to curate the Dance In Vancouver Biennial. She pointed out

ies, including the acclaimed work of Emio Greco and

that in her view, Vancouver had reached a place, as Toronto had

Pieter C. Scholten of ICKamsterdam, whose work ROCCO

been in the 1980s and Montreal in the 1990s, where it was a real

will be coming to Vancouver in April.

hub for Dance in Canada, and as she put it that this meant an opportunity for Vancouver dance artists to break out of what-

With the 2014 Vancouver International Dance Festival

ever mold they were in. Given that you have been both of the

about to open, The Gathering, a conference and dance

Vancouver dance scene, and outside of it, I am curious if you

network inaugurated during last year's festival, has just

identify Vancouver dance with a certain kind of work?

announced the launch of its web portal, and Jay Hirabayashi has sent an invitation for interested artists to

CP: That's an interesting question, but I have never really sensed

join (more on page 9).

that there was any kind of 'Vancouver mold'. I think some of the exciting work that is happening in dance here right now is

The 'Thinking Bodies' series continues with a conversation

similar to what is happening in other cities as well— this beauti-

with flamenco artist Rosario Ancer, whose work as a per-

ful fusion of contemporary–or even classical–dance with street

former, teacher and as Executive Director of the

elements, and different forms of improvisation–like the work of

Vancouver International Flamenco Festival is highly

605 Collective, Out Innerspace, and some of the work that Ballet

respected. Sadly, the day of our conversation coincided

BC is bringing in. It's technical, virtuosic, complex dancing. But

with the unexpected death of legendary flamenco guitar-

this is also happening elsewhere. It is hard to point to a distinctly

ist Paco de Lucia. Her views on the relationship between

"Vancouver" element.

flamenco and contemporary dance are well worth reading, and we thank her hsuband, Victor Kolstee, for the

AK: Jeanne pointed out that in the past it would have been fair

cover photo.

to say that there were shared influences, like contact improvisation, for example, but these days the influences seem much

As always, we thank all the artists who have agreed to

more diverse, and global. How much time do you spend in

contribute and we welcome new writing and project

Vancouver?

ideas at any time, in order to continue to make Dance Central a more vital link to the community. Please send

CP: I have just come to the end of a sabbatical year. I took some

material by mail to members@thedancecentre.ca. or call

time away from creating and touring to have a chance to take

us at 604.606.6416. We look forward to the conversation!

a rest and focus on other things. The three years prior to that

2

Da nce Central March/April 2014

Andreas Kahre, Editor


had been an intense time of creating and touring, when I had a full-time company enabled by the support we had from our co-producer in Frankfurt. We really had two headquarters, one in Vancouver, and the other in Frankfurt, where we able to produce work, do residencies and perform regularly. Having a European base made touring much easier, because we were more visible and accessible. But Vancouver has always been my home, and continues to be, and it has been great to have a year to really be at home in Vancouver again, to take stock and figure out what I want to do next. I am just starting a new phase, with the remount of The Tempest Replica which for me is an important work to re-visit and bring to new audiences. Then this summer we start a couple of new projects that I am really excited about. It has been essential for me to have had a year-long break, because I finally feel the hunger to choreograph again - the real impulse to make something. AK: Speaking of taking stock, you were the first recipient of the Lola Award, and as you probably know the second award will be announced in March. What role did the Lola Award play in your life in the year since you received it? CP: It came at the perfect moment, because I was starting this sabbatical, and in addition to focusing on motherhood—our son is three now and I really wanted to have some time at home with him—I really wanted it to be an 'artistic development' year: To think, to read, to talk to other artists, see other work. I also wanted to inform myself and develop more skills around theatre making, and the Lola Award really helped take some of the financial stress out of the picture. AK:  The award is especially intended to support the career of an artist in 'mid-career'. That term can mean many things, one of which could be to become an industry of one, or the focus of a small industry that supports you, demands its pound of flesh, and perhaps both. Since you worked mostly with large companies, and a lot of contributing artists, do you find yourself in a transition with Kidd Pivot, or are on doing what you have always wanted? Has the 'machine' that has sprung up around you helped developed the essential part of the work, or do you need to balance it against more personal needs. CP: The 'machine' really consists of the same components as before. Kidd Pivot management headquarters remain the brave folks at Eponymous. And I have been working with many of the same collaborators for the past twenty years: Owen Belton, as composer, Nancy Bryant and Linda Chow, who have been designing costumes for me since the '90s, Jay Taylor, my partner, continued on page 6

"I'm wondering about where a distinct vocabulary will come from." continued on page 5

Photo: Michael Slobodian

Da nce Central March/April 2014

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Dance Central The Dance Centre Scotiabank Dance Centre Level 6, 677 Davie Street Vancouver BC V6B 2G6 T 604.606.6400 F 604.606.6401 info@thedancecentre.ca www.thedancecentre.ca Dance Central is published every two months by The Dance Centre for its members and for the dance community. Opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent Dance Central or The Dance Centre. The editor reserves the right to edit for clarity or length, or to meet house requirements. Editor Andreas Kahre Copy Editor Hilary Maxwell

This past month has been one of dance adventures and exploration, as I travelled across three distinct dance worlds: Working with ICKamsterdam, on a project entitled SPAZIO, dedicated to nurturing young choreographers, brought home to me how important these investments are. The project invites young dance makers to explore specific

Contributors to this issue: Rosario Ancer, Jay Hirabayashi, Crystal Pite, Mirna Zagar

themes important to the development of contemporary

Dance Centre Board Members Chair Ingrid M. Tsui Vice Chair Gavin Ryan Secretary Simone Orlando Treasurer Roman Goldmann

discourse that arises from the encounter with other

Directors Kate Bilson Barbara Bourget Matthew Breech Susan Elliott Margaret Grenier Beau Howes Anndraya T. Luui Josh Martin

Dance Foundation Board Members Chair Michael Welters Secretary Anndraya T. Luui Treasurer Jennifer Chung Directors Santa Aloi, Linda Blankstein, Grant Strate Dance Centre Staff: Executive Director Mirna Zagar Programming Coordinator Raquel Alvaro Marketing Manager Heather Bray Services Administrator Anne Daroussin Development Director Sheri Urquhart Technical Directors Justin Aucoin and Mark Eugster Accountant Lil Forcade Member Services Coordinator Hilary Maxwell

The Dance Centre is BC's primary resource centre for the dance profession and the public. The activities of The Dance Centre are made possible by numerous individuals. Many thanks to our members, volunteers, community peers, board of directors and the public for your ongoing commitment to dance in BC. Your suggestions and feedback are always welcome. The operations of The Dance Centre are supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council, and the City of Vancouver through the Office of Cultural Affairs.

dance. At the core is the embodiment of ideas and the disciplines, and the methodologies that are applicable to choreographic practice. The Centre, brainchild of Emio Greco and Pieter C. Scholten, co-artistic directors of ICKamsterdam International Choreographic Arts Centre, is based on three pillars: Production, guest artists, and the 'Academy' (to enable the transfer of knowledge and support research). Recently, Emio and Pieter were also appointed Artistic Directors of the Ballet National de Marseille. I am very excited that their work ROCCO is coming to Vancouver soon! Based on Luchino Visconti's film Rocco e i suoi fratelli, the dancers become boxers and boxers become dancers. They challenge each other in a boxing ring with telling blows, nimble footwork and virtuoso tactics, representing brotherly love in all its facets: The good and the bad, the devil and the angel, the androgynous and the incestuous. Cain and Abel, Romulus and Remus, Laurel and Hardy. The choreography explores physical and psychological extremes, in an exhilarating exposition of Emio’s and Pieter’s way of working, where each movement is a result of careful exploration and of deliberate choices. My travels took me also to Vienna where I saw the recent work of Liquid Loft, Deep Dish in which an evening meal becomes a surreal portrayal of today’s society and offers a world of strange landscapes. The work is a culmination of the Perfect Garden series that the Company has developed through working with French visual artist Michel Blazy and in which the notion of the garden is also an expression of human’s desire to control nature.

4 Da nce Central March/April 2014


EU Travellogue My journey then took me to Hamburg to the Tanzplatform,

austerity climate which beleaguers European arts, the need to

which offered a peek into Germany’s vibrant dance scene.

articulate the engagement with audiences and focus on partici-

Organized by Tanzplan partner Kampnagel, one of Germa-

patory events, and discourse has never been greater.

ny’s leading cultural organizations, the platform provided a range of work—from Works Along with performances

European funders are putting increasing emphasis on this area

featuring recent works by William Forsythe, Meg Stuart,

and the European artists and cultural operators are in for more

Raimond Hoghe to newer voices such as Laurent Chet-

turbulent times as they seek to find new ways of not only how to

ouane, Isabelle Schad, Sebastian Matthias, and the next

transmit their ideas, but new ways of inviting audiences into the

generation, including Adam Linder, and Clement Layes.

creative process and engage in dialogues and yet still remain as uncompromising as they are today in their respective artistic

A number of ancillary events contributed to the inspira-

choices.

tional atmosphere which provided space for reflection and included engaging audiences towards a process of

Of all the inspiring moments of participating in different con-

constructive feedback developed by DasArts in Amster-

texts, witnessing diverse proposals to similar challenges, one

dam. Choreographer Antje Pfundtner and her dramaturg

experience stands out: My encounter with the work of Antonia

Anne Kersting provided another way of remembering and

Baehr, Berlin based choreographer and film-maker. Her work

reflecting on dance, by inviting audiences to explore cul-

Abecedarium Bestiarium is a detour into a magical world she

tures of conversing about performances, and an invitation

creates, through precise and inspiring scores. This is where the

to remember performances we saw within the context of

relation to what we today understand as choreography stops.

dialogue, via an audio trail.

Her work provides a beautifully transformative experience which arises as a result of friction between the embodiment of

A panel of experts reflected on the future of dance in the

the ideas outlined in the scores and resulting in astonishing ef-

context of the national Tanzplan strategy, the potential of

fects which make it impossible to separate time, space, sound,

contemporary dance and performance in society. Several

movement. It was the magic and the truths we all seek and

other installations, workshops, talks and dialogues in the

wish to discover, be they true or not, when we enter the space

multitude of spaces of industrial Kampnagel complex in-

where Thalia reigns.

cluded a Health Kitchen (offering dancers advice on health related issues), Late Night Review spontaneously invited

I return to Vancouver, inspired by the richness of the experi-

guests into unedited reflection on works they have seen,

ences and also with questions on how our work here resonates

and to trade gossip. New York's Bureau for the future of

with these developments. Our project with the EU partners

Choreography developed a performative installation con-

Migrant Bodies, will be a place to seek some of these answers,

templating the future of dance, and mapping the past fifty

with its focus on migration, and identity, which is also at the

years of dance developments globally.

root of what dance is today. We will have lots of opportunities to consider these questions as we enter March, a month full of

I also had the opportunity to participate in a new EU project

dance in all its diverse expressions and across Vancouver!

Communicating Dance, spearheaded by Kampnagel, where select European dance organizations come together

Sincerely,

to support young choreographers and dance writers to find

Mirna Zagar

new ways of articulating ideas about their work, and dance

Executive Director

in general, both to audiences and to their peers. In the Da nce Central March/April 2014

5


What will we see next? continued from page 3

A conversation with Crystal Pite

who has been doing set designs for me all along, and many of the

cess. It is wonderful territory because what is absent is the panic that I usually feel when I am making something. What remains is the sense of creation and energy, and surprise. It's one of my favourite things, like returning to an old friend.

dancers that I continue to return to, sometimes in one company, sometimes another. I would say that what I love about the 'ma-

AK: The Tempest Replica is a scripted work. Do you enjoy working

chine' is that the relationships become deeper and deeper, that

with text?

there is more understanding and trust and more history to draw upon, so I would say it will be more of the same up ahead, but

CP: Yes, I do. The Tempest Replica was the first time I worked with

exploring new territory. Of course there will also be new collabo-

an existing script, but I have written fragments of text myself, to

rators I will discover and work with, but having this core team, I

help me get a point across in a work, or I have used found pieces,

would say, is really important for my growth.

for example bits from Voltaire in Dark Matters. But The Temempest Replica was my first overt use of narrative, and I found it

AK: Remounting work can be a matter of reconstruction, a chance

really challenging. I just about gave up many times, but now I find

to re-invent, or a very unpleasant mirror to look into. How do you

I have a better handle on it, and I try to make it better every time.

approach it? AK: You are touring mostly in Canada and the US? CP: I would never remount something that I didn't feel completely convinced about. It would be, like you say, soul crushing. There

CP: Yes, after some dates in eastern Canada, we will go to London

have been works where in remounting them I did major renova-

and Birmingham, then back to Toronto, Victoria and Quebec City.

tions because I could recognize the potential of the work but I hadn't been able to do it properly the first time, or there were

AK: Do you find that audiences outside of Canada have expecta-

corners of the piece I didn't really understand until I had some

tions, or an image, or an idea of what it means for you to be a

distance. Remounting for me is a very creative, very charged pro-

Canadian, or a Vancouver-based dance artist?

"I never

thought of myself

as a movement creator."

Dance Central September 2004

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Da nce Central March/April 2014

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CP: I notice that dancers and choreographers have so much CP: One of my European colleagues said to me once that she

more access to one another than before, even by seeing work

liked the presence of nature in my work. She thought this made

online. I also notice that in some of the repertory companies I

my work distinctly Canadian. Otherwise? I can't imagine what

work with, like Nederlands Dans Theater, or Cedar Lake Con-

people might expect from a Canadian artist... politeness, maybe?

temporary Ballet, the dancers are working with the same ten

Optimism?

or so choreographers— and seven of those are disciples of the other three— so there is a cross-pollination of information and

AK: I recently saw Shifting Geography by Alvin Erasga Tolentino,

experience. Dancers are now so versatile and informed right out

and Rafaële Giovanola, and while the collaborators were from

of the gate; they are assimilating things very quickly and looking

all kinds of different nationalities, the work had a sense of being

better than ever, but everything is also becoming homogenized.

'international' in flavour—it didn't seem to originate from any

I'm thinking about this a lot lately... I'm wondering about where

identifiable 'other' cultural context, even though the ethnicity of

a distinct vocabulary will come from next, and what it will look

many of the collaborators was apparent, nor did it blend ele-

like. Of course, I don't want my own work to look like anyone

ments, but it spoke, in a unified, non-localized language. We see more and more of that, perhaps because it has become so much easier to collaborate across national and geographic boundaries. Do you find that your sense of the work you see and what you choose to make is set in that larger frame, or do you remain aware of a localized element in contemporary dance?

Dance Central September 2004 The Tempest Replica. Photo: Joerg Baumann

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Da nce Central March/April 2014

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What will we see next?

A conversation with Crystal Pite

else's, and I am wondering about a choreographer like William Forsythe, who has inspired so many creators and dancers... is his own work in danger of looking like an imitation of someone who is imitating him? He is always original and always distinct, and he has to fight for that, but I wonder what's going to happen to his work. What will great dancing look like five or ten years from now? It may homogenize itself for a while longer, until somebody can break free. I saw a video of a young dancer who taught himself to dance by watching Youtube videos of various contemporary choreographers. I saw him improvise, and his dancing was of a current style: I could see what he has been watching. I don't know what this means yet. AK: It is curious how the flow of information informs us. American media, during the the years following World War II, dominated the Western world, and with it abstract expressionism became the normative 'international style' for a while, contested but dominant. There seems to be a tendency in the performing arts, at this time, driven by media and perhaps also the phenomenon of 'festival culture', where you can be anywhere and from anywhere, and work in a curiously consistent frame—from Iceland to Borneo. If you are looking to find something new, where will you search? CP: I am going to find it within the people I am working with, so it will be very much informed by who I surround myself with. I

is going to be through the way I put the choreography on stage, on how it's used to tell a story, or create an emotion, or a state, and on how it's going to integrate with all the other elements— the sets, the sound, the relationship to the audience. I feel that that's my focus right now, and then I'll build the choreography that I need to deliver content. If there is any actual movement invention it will be a side-effect of all that. We all want to be movement inventors. But the reality is that very, very few choreograpers actually are. AK: Movement fills a conceptual or poetic 'riverbed'? CP: Conceptual is a tricky word, but yes, it does. AK: If dance hadn't appeared in your life, what would you do? CP: I would be making something; although I don't know exactly what. I always had a strong impulse to create. I grew up in a family that was very crafty and creative - that's always how I have experienced or interpreted the world around me. I am not sure what form it would have taken—theatre-maker, illustrator, or something completely different, but even now, aside from dance, I make things. That's what makes me feel very awake, to be in a state of creation. AK: Thank you very much! CP: Thank you, too!

am on a path of exploring text, theatre, and narrative - I am very interested in connecting story and body. I think my way forward

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Dance Central September 2004

Da nce Central March/April 2014

The Tempest Replica. Photo: Joerg Baumann


The Gathering Web Forum

Where We're Going The Vancouver International Dance Festival has built this site to host archival materials from the symposium, and more importantly, to continue the discussions and relationship building begun at the 2013 festival. We hope this network will commit

by Jay Hirabayashi

Who we are

to forging active partnerships and collaborations to bring each other’s work to new audiences and stages across the country, increasing the audience for, and impact of, Aboriginal and culturally diverse artists in Canada.

The Gathering is a network of Aboriginal and culturally diverse contemporary dance and performing artists, and other

Join the Gathering

arts professionals focused on improving production, presentation, and touring opportunities for our members. We

We welcome all interested artists, administrators, presenters,

seek to engage our communities and build wider audiences,

funders and scholars of the arts to join thegathering.ca with the

and to overcome barriers in creation and presenting through

goal of fostering new partnerships, projects and discussions to

peer networking and collaborative means.

further decrease the marginalization of Aboriginal and culturally

Where we’ve come from

diverse artists. Please note that this is a closed network, and your registration

The Gathering started as a symposium held in conjunction

will need approval by the site administrators. While we aim to

with the 2013 Vancouver International Dance Festival, bring-

process any registration quickly, please understand that verifica-

ing together artists, administrators, and community mem-

tion and approval of members may take time, and we thank you

bers from across Canada to discuss challenges in marketing

in advance for your patience and understanding of this matter.

and community engagement, as well as models and possibilities of peer networking as a method of production and

To join The Gathering, go to www.thegathering.ca and click

presentation to gain a wider dissemination of our works.

on the "Sign up" button in the middle of the home page.

Dance Central September 2004

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Da nce Central March/April 2014

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"In Flamenco,

once

Dance Central September 2004 10

Da nce Central March/April 2014

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Thinking Bodies: A conversation with Rosario Ancer Rosario Ancer is a Mexican-born flamenco artist, who co-

has evolved the most, because it is the visual attraction, and

founded the school Centro Flamenco, The Flamenco Rosario Arts

the dancers' desire to bring their own experiences to the form.

Society, and its professional training program after moving to

The guitar has also developed a lot, especially because Paco

Vancouver from Spain with her husband in 1989. Called the “The

de Lucia (who, sadly, died on the day of this conversation). The

Mother of Flamenco in Vancouver”, Ancer received a 2000 YWCA

song form has developed less since the time of Camarón de la

nomination for the Women of Distinction Award for Arts and Cul-

Isla. There are some singers who want to add personal content,

ture. She was awarded the 2009 Isadora Award, the recipient of

but it remains the expression of a culture.

The 2012 Mayor’s Arts Award for Dance and was nominated for the 2012 Inspirational Latino Award for Arts and Culture. She is

AK: As a cultural tradition, how does flamenco balance formal

also the Artistic and Executive Director of the Vancouver Interna-

structure, interpretation, and improvisation?

tional Flamenco Festival. (www.flamencorosario.org) RA: Flamenco is always based on a structure—the compás is AK: 'Contemporary Dance' in Vancouver remains separate from

the backbone of flamenco, which we all follow. We have the 12

its 'ethnic' cousins, Bharatanatyam, Flamenco, Butoh, or Tango,

beat rhythm and the 4/4 beat rhythms, which relate to different

in how it is presented, how it is funded, and in the discourse that

regional influences. There are two divisions: Gypsy and the An-

surrounds it, despite the fact that, as choreographer Jai Govinda

dalucian forms. The Anadalucians use the lighter rhythms, while

point out, all these are dynamic, living forms that develop in a

the Gypsy forms are more emotional, and express their different

contemporary context. The division between 'contemporary' and

experiences. Of course the forms evolve; my husband doesn't

'ethnic' or 'folkloristic' dance segregates the dance community,

play the guitar the way it was played a hundred years ago. The

much in the way that Non-Western music was for many years

soul of flamenco has remained the same, but the song forms

excluded from being presented in the cultural mainstream.

incorporate different influences. An Alegría has more Western

you know the rules,

you can break them all."

What is your experience as an artist working in the context of

scales while a Solea uses more Middle Eastern scales, and since

flamenco?

Paco de Lucía, Jazz chords and other influences have become a part of flamenco guitar. Then there is the 'deepness' of the song.

RA: Flamenco, contrary to general belief, is not folk dance, and

Traditionally, we have three levels; deep, or 'jondo', intermediate

Spanish folk dancing has nothing to do with Flamenco. Flamenco

and light, but in contemporary flamenco we can create an inter-

is a hybrid, a miracle that happened at the right moment in the

mediate dance or song and take it to a different level, or blend

right place, and if it weren’t for all the right elements, it would not

elements. There is a structure, but once you know the rules,

have come into being. It is often thought of as ancient, but it is

you can do anything you want. You are the one who is creating

quite recent. Written descriptions by British travelers in the 19th

a new work, which is not limited in length, in how many songs

century talk about exotic gypsy dances, but flamenco with the

you want to have in it, if any, and what you want to express. On

structure that we know it today, goes back to the mid 19th cen-

one occasion, somebody said to me 'Flamenco always looks the

tury. It combines influences from Sephardic Jewish, Middle-East-

same', and I thought "Perhaps that is because you don't un-

ern and Andalucian Christian culture, and from the early records

derstand it." Flamenco gives you the opportunity to explore so

it appears that the flamenco we know now has little in common

much, it allows for tremendous creativity, and once you know

with the early forms, because it continues to evolve. The dance

the rules, you can break them D a n c all. e Central

Left: Rosario Ancer, Photo: Adam P.W. Smith

September 2004

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Da nce Central March/April 2014

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Thinking Bodies: A conversation with Rosario Ancer

RA: We always had to find out how the stages of our artistic development corresponded to the stages of our lives. When we were in Spain, we asked ourselves "Where do we fit into

AK: How did your relationship with flamenco evolve?

this culture of flamenco?" We don't think of it as exclusively Spanish, or Gypsy, or Andalucian, but as a form for every-

RA: When I started to discover flamenco, still in Mexico, I felt

body who is touched by it. At the beginning, even when we

a very strong hold, left everything and moved to Spain, like my

performed with Spanish companies, it was always a ques-

husband, Victor Kolstee. We were so in love and crazy about

tion of being accepted from the outside. When we came to

flamenco, and thirty years later we are still doing it, but I was

Canada, we had to find an answer to the question: What is

always preoccupied with the idea that I wanted to learn it, and

flamenco for a Mexican, and a Canadian, trained in Spain and

then I wanted to make it my own. When I was in Spain, people

living in Canada? We have used these questions in our work,

thought I looked very much like a gypsy, which helped me get

for example in taking the idea of integrating the four elements,

accepted, but since coming to Canada—where my husband

like the winds of the compass rose, and linking them to the

is from—I have been thinking about what I could do with this

sources of Canadian society— First nations people from the

magical art form here and now. I have wanted to make it per-

West, people from the North who brought technology, the

sonal. To survive, I have to be a teacher and run a school, and

people from the East who brought mysticism, and the people

a festival, and I am very proud of what we have developed and

from the South who brought a vivaciousness—where we all

nurtured in Vancouver, but my goal has been, little by little, to

contribute with our gifts. Flamenco is an excellent example of

find myself, and who I am as an artist.

the possibilities of melding cultures.

AK: How does your experience as an immigrant influence your

AK: How do you approach the creation of new work?

relationship with the work?

"Señoritas in frilly dresses? That is thinking straight from t 1950s. We are in a new generat


RA: It is a personal discovery, using the tools of flamenco. For

knowledge, and it touches on chaos theory, and the way there is

example, with Mis Hermanas; Thicker Than Water My Sisters

chaos behind order, and order behind chaos—which is somewhat

and I, I created a portrait of myself and each of my seven

how flamenco works. Using custom media software that trans-

sisters through flamenco dance, and because there are so

lated the audio into visual representation, with all the instruments

many different forms in flamenco, I could choose the form

(footwork, singer, guitar) playing in tandem, the backdrop of the

that was appropriate to the character of each of them. After

stage become a visual symphony.

three attempts, the work was selected by Made in BC: Dance Tour for contemporary dance–a milestone for our company—

AK: Is it difficult to break the preconceptions?

and I think it helped transform the perception of the public and presenters, one of whom told us: “This was a remarkable

RA: Yes, especially in Vancouver. I have heard people say: " There

show and deserves to be seen by as many people you can

is no art in flamenco." I understand that they may not feel drawn to

pack in our theatres. It is deeply, deeply rooted in humanity

it, like any other form of expression, but I don't understand when

and gives an exquisite experience of Flamenco. Flamenco

the judgment is based on ignorance. I go to see ballet, and I go to

becomes personal suddenly, meaningful in an accessible

see contemporary dance. I love modern dance. My inspirations as

way.” Using the different moods of flamenco to portrait the

a kid were Lola Flores with her passion and Isadora Duncan with

different personalities made the critics say: "Now we see

her freedom of movement. I was also inspired by movies, because

how the different forms differ, and how each artist can bring

the movie theatre was next door—and my dad owned it. All these

something new to the form. Another project La Monarca, The

elements informed my relationship with art. I have also heard

Monarch and the Butterfly Effect is an allegory of my life be-

that flamenco is 'just entertainment' or that it expresses an ethnic

tween Mexico and Canada, and why such a fragile creature

stereotype—señoritas in frilly dresses—but that is thinking straight

goes on that journey. It is also an allegory about passing on

from the 1950s. We are in a new generation. When Victor and I

the tion."

Da nce Central March/April 2014

13


came here, the audience accepted us immediately, but among

tic merit was strong—but they were short of money, so we

my peers it was only the more adventurous who did.

were declined. We are applying again this year, with another residency at the Banff Arts Centre—another milestone—to see

AK: Why do you think there is resistance to recognizing flamen-

what happens. We have had good project assessments, but

co as a contemporary form of dance?

that hasn't translated into ongoing support. I know they can't fund everybody, but even when you have proven your work, it

RA: I think funding has something to do with it. It is fine to

remains a challenge. Our flamenco festival receives CC funding,

accept it from a distance, but if I compete with you for fund-

because that is a 'community service', but we can't get ongoing

ing, then it becomes difficult. If somebody can tell me what

support for our artistic work —except for the great help from

contemporary dance is, then we can have a discussion about

the Simons Foundation. The Director there sees the beauty and

the art of contemporary flamenco, but nobody can give me a

the art in flamenco, and what artists can do with the form. On a

straight answer. So how can they tell me that I am not a con-

human level I have felt very welcome in Canada, but it has been

temporary artist? Some of my peers who have seen the impact

very difficult to be recognized, in that context, as part of the

of our work in this city are amazed when they find out that we

Canadian cultural community. I get inspiration and I learn from

are still applying for project grants at Canada Council. In all

the contemporary dance community (and all dance forms) and

these years, I have had individual project grants, but it has been

I think they could learn from us too. The Dance Centre staff and

even more difficult to be recognized as a company: We cannot

Mirna have been very supportive, but festivals are a challenge.

find a way to receive operating funding, while much newer

For example, we were accepted into Dance In Vancouver only

companies receive multi-year support.

once, and we can't seem to get festival curators interested.

AK: Where is the difficulty?

AK: I spoke about this with Jeanne Holmes during her recent visit to Vancouver as curator of DIV, and she acknowledged that

RA: It is clear the jury system it is not working for us—mainly, I

there has been an imbalance. Still, it is difficult to understand

believe, because the chosen juries are more acquainted with

where the real barrier lies. Is it that festivals and presenters

contemporary dance, and have little knowledge about flamenco

can't fill their venues with 'ethnic' dance, is it an aesthetic judg-

or other “ethnic forms”. We send invitations to the dance com-

ment, or, at worst, a form of systemic cultural racism?

munity to visit us and find out more, but very few come. I think if they saw what we do, they would be willing to speak more

RA: I don’t know, but I guess we’ll never receive a direct an-

in our favor, but it is difficult, especially at the Canada Council

swer. Years ago, we applied to get into the Canada Dance Festi-

national competition level.

val, and we were turned down because, as they told us,

"Flamenco is a hybrid, a miracle that happened at the right time..." AK: Your company receives support from the City of Vancouver and the BC Arts Council, and from BC Gaming?

'flamenco wasn't part of their programming.' Years later, a number of companies were invited to a Canada Council meeting

RA: Yes, we receive annual support and we are very thankful for

about the lack of cultural diversity at the festival and we were

it, as we are to the Simons Foundation for its ongoing support.

asked why we didn't apply. I told them that we had, but nothing

They see first hand what we contribute to the community, but

has changed since then.

with the Canada Council there have been ups and downs (one of our first managers eventuallty told me "I can't find a place

AK: Are things different for flamenco artists in Quebec?


for you in the system." and gave up). Well, we have not given up and kept applying for project funding, with some success.

RA: I am not certain, but I believe that there is a difference in

Last year, we were preparing for new work, in a co–production

attitude, and If we were based in Montreal—or even Toronto—I

with the Shadbolt Centre, and with a confirmed residency. We

think we would have a much higher level of support.

applied for a CC project grant, and were told that the artisAK: What about touring opportunities? 14

Da nce Central March/April 2014


RA: That has been difficult as well. We organized a tour in Mexico, with three confirmed bookings, at a time when few companies—especially in the West—received invitations to tour a work. We applied for touring funds one year ahead of time to avoid any surprises, our grant was not turned down, but we were told that since other companies were on a tighter schedule, we would be recommended to the next jury—who turned us down. It was heartbreaking. We had to cancel the tour on two months notice, get re-invited, and then apply again. We did get the funding, but it was extremely difficult. Since then we have received another touring grant for our 2013 Made in BC tour. AK: What are the obstacles to receiving operating funding? RA: The rules state that we need at least two project grants in four years, and two assessments, in order to be eligible for long-term funding. Last year, this actually happened: We had two successful project grants and two good company assessments, and our officer told us that the council was considering putting some operating funds toward 'deserving companies', but that didn't happen. When we finally were in a position to apply, we were advised that first-time applicants are rarely successful, but we felt we had a good chance in succeeding, since flamenco has flourished in Vancouver, in no small measure because of our company and festival, but we were unsuccessful. So we are starting all over again. AK: In music, it took a generation before enough jury members understood and respected non-Western traditions enough to support that work in contemporary music competitions. Are there enough dancers and choreographers who understand flamenco in order to support it in juries? RA: I don't know. I have been asked only once to be on a jury, and there are only a few flamenco artists in Canada who can analyze and judge work like mine. To make it worse, dancers have to apply with a DVD, which hardly conveys the passion, or the essence of our work. Perhaps a new generation of flamenco dancers, who grew up Canadian, will find it easier to be supported. AK: Will that future generation of artists be both—flamenco artists and contemporary dancers? RA: I don't think there is a contradiction. Flamenco is about transformation. In my work, little by little, I have dropped the 'traditional' elements, and very rarely will I now use flamenco dress. I say "Don't look at the

2014 Lola Award Created as part of the legacy of Lola MacLaughlin, in partnership between her husband Tony Giacinti and The Dance Centre, the $10,000 Lola Award will be given for the second time this year. The inaugural award was presented to Crystal Pite in 2012. The Lola Award recipient will be a midcareer or senior level choreographer, highly respected by his or her peers, who has demonstrated an adventurous willingness to push beyond the boundaries of movement/dance performance into collaborative, interdisciplinary work that draws on elements of spoken word, theatre, video, design, visual arts, music composition and/or other media. The award will facilitate the seeker, the collaborators and the avant-garde among the performing and visual arts community. Lola MacLaughlin was known for her “total art work”, or Gesamtkunstwerk as it is known in German, and it is this approach that The Lola will nurture. The award recipient will have demonstrated an intelligent, worldly and humanistic sensibility in keeping with the Gesamtkunstwerk principle that art matters; that every individual is psychologically uplifted by exposure to art and creative practice. The award competition is open to Canadian choreographers although preference may be given to residents of British Columbia.

ruffles and the flowers, look at what I do." I am an artist working from the source that I love, which is flamenco. I am an artist, removed from my country, removed from the original source in Spain. I am an immigrant, and I am trying to tell my story through the language of flamenco. AK: Thank you!

The Lola recipient will be announced in March 2014. www.thedancecentre.ca/the_lola_award Da nce Central March/April 2014

15


Paco de LucĂ­a (1947-2014)

March/April 2014

Dance Central Dance Central September 2004

3

Dance Central March / April 2014  

The Dance Centre Bi-Monthly Publication for Members and the Dance Community

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