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September/October 2017

Dance Central A Dance Centre Publication

Claiming Space Heavy Ground A conversation with Adam Hayward Page 2

Dance In Vancouver The 2017 Schedule Page 6

The Power of Dance A conversation with Alvin Erasga Tolentino and Linda Blankstein Page 8


Welcome to Dance Central

Heavy Ground A conversation with Adam Hayward AK: You are the curator for Dance In Vancouver 2017 (DIV), but you are based in Christchurch, New Zealand. How did a British dance curator come to be working in what was formerly known as 'the colonies'? AH: I started dancing when I was five, did an undergraduate degree in Drama and Music, and then a Masters at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, in performance studies with a semiotician called Dr. Susan Melros, which then took me to the Centre for Performance Research in Aberystwyth, West Wales. I worked for five years with their directors Richard Gough and Judie Christie, and then I went to New Zealand for a month's holiday. That was seventeen and a half years ago. I have been on stage for forty-one years, and I don't really know what else to do... I describe myself as a nomadic materialist, and New Zealand is a pretty good base, with its shaky isle status. AK: Different curators describe their activity in very different terms. Coming to it the way you did, what does 'curating' mean to you?

Welcome to the Fall issue of Dance Central. This

AH: It really depends on the context. I directed a dance festival called the

issue features a conversation with Adam Hayward,

Body Festival for fourteen years, and there are many different hats a curator

the New Zealand-based curator of the 2017 Dance

wears; acting as a conduit, a megaphone, a follow-spot operator,

In Vancouver event. The conversation centres on

a myth debunker, a cut-through-the-bullshit filter.

what dance curation means in a global context, how

With Dance In Vancouver what happened

it is affected by the cultural and economic condi-

was that I had been to Vancouver

tions of countries that share a colonial past, and

a couple of times to go to the

how to challenge curatorial thinking that centres on

PuSh International Performing

product rather than process.

Arts Festival. When I came for the first time to Dance In

The second conversation featured in this issue is a

Vancouver in 2015, curated

reflection on the experiences of Alvin Erasga

by Pirjetta Mulari, I arrived

Tolentino and Linda Blankstein in organizing a series

three days after the trust

of Immigrant Youth Workshops that began in 2016

that had been employing me to

and will continue this fall at the Killarney community

run the Body Festival had folded,

Centre and the Immigrant Services Society.

and the decision had been made to stop the festival, partly for

As always, we thank all the artists who have agreed

economic reasons, but there

to contribute and we welcome new writing and

were other factors; what was

project ideas at any time, in order to continue to

interesting is that the reasons I

make Dance Central a more vital link to the com-

was no longer comfortable with

munity. Please send material by e-mail to mem-

festivals were the reasons why

bers@thedancecentre.ca or call us at 604.606.6416.

Mirna was interested to have

We continue to look forward to the conversation!

me curate DIV.

Andreas Kahre, Editor 2

Dance Central September/October 2017


Dance Central September/October 2017

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Heavy Ground A conversation with Adam Hayward

where your ticket selection is based on what you read or what is presented about the work itself. For instance, how great would it be to present the Royal New Zealand Ballet, and an experimental puppet company from Eastern Europe, and the two productions were Swan Lake and Kafka's Metamorphosis. People would know they are coming, and their assumption about the show would

I had delivered a polemic to a group of people on the ques-

be that it is the ballet in the 1400 seat theatre, and the puppets

tion why we are obsessed with product? and why one of the

in the 100-seat basement venue, and it would turn out to be the

big failings of curators globally is that there are three kinds of

other way around. There would be angry letters, but that would

major obsessions which let down the arts: An obsession with

be good... So, how can we begin to explicitly challenge this way

time, with space, and with ego. I think that curators have fallen

of curating? Interestingly, with DIV, the selection was done with

into a – potentially necessary – trap when they curate based

very little knowledge of who the artists were. I had been to DIV

on cost, on bums in seats, on the name of the choreographer

and seen some of the artists, of course, and it is impossible to do

and on the pressure of time to condense the work in terms of

objective curation, but at least I began from a more distanced

presentation. The starting point for our conversation with art-

point of view.

ists is not healthy; it's 'who are you? this is when you are doing it and where you are doing it.'

AK: Did you see the work in video?

With the earthquake in Christchurch, nature removed the

AH: Yes, I looked at the description on the page, looked at links,

barrier of space. We lost all of our theatres, and in 2015, of the

made some decisions based on the attitude of the submittee;

27 venues we used, only 4 were recognized as theatres and 23

with some you could tell that there was an expectation that they

were spaces we activated as performative spaces which was

would be in the event because of their stature in the commu-

joyous, because my conversations with artists didn't start with

nity, but our responsibility as curator is not to perpetuate that,

'this is the theatre we have, and what do you have that fits in

because you are x, you're in, because you bring bums into the

there?' Time became the other factor. Why am I pressuring

seats. Some of the double bills deliberately combine artists you

my artists to present fully polished works? The conveyor-

would not normally see together, because presenters often come

belt-nature of festivals brings curators to constantly asking

to a festival and stay in their comfort zone, to see an artist they

'what's next? What's next? What's next?' In New Zealand, it

know and know they want to program, and know they can sell

has created a cycle where process is not being invested in as

tickets, which is part of their job of course, and not necessarily

much as product. How could I as a curator present process?

evil, but I said if you are going to do that, I am going to make you

Christchurch is a city of fewer than 400,000 people, and at

also sit through something you don’t know.

its zenith 31,000 people took part in the festival. Half as active participants, and at the last festival 16,000 people attended

AK: I imagine that it is one thing to curate a festival in a commu-

dance performances. We had an audience that trusted what

nity where you know artists and audiences like Christchurch, and

we were presenting and packaging and, therefore, we were

another to do it in a city where you don't. In some disciplines,

able to begin a conversation by saying 'what you are going to

especially visual art, there is now arguably an 'international' audi-

see, don’t think as polished but as a stage presentation, and

ence that migrates from Biennale to Biennale and is aware of a

still worth investing in a ticket.'

'global' art scene. Vancouver has such an audience for visual art, but in dance, certainly until about ten years ago, we were quite

As for the ego thing, I went to FTA (Festival TransAmériques)

isolated, geographically, and also in terms of a presence of inter-

and saw mille batailles, the new Louise Lecavalier work. I

national artists. It has begun to shift, but it is still not at the point,

was shouted at by an audience member for not standing up

I think where Vancouver, and especially a regional event like DIV

for a standing ovation and was lambasted: 'Do you not know

is on the radar of an international performance audience. How do

who she is?' and I said 'Yes, that's the problem; it's that you

you take this into account?

are standing up because of who she is and not what she is doing.' For a few years now, I have had a desire to curate an

AH: I am very interested in the idea of de-centralization. Think of

anonymous festival, where none of the artists are named and

Ariane Mnouchkine’s Théatre du Soleil in les bois de Vincennes

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Dance Central September/October 2017

continued on page 17


"...there are

many different hats

that a curator wears;

acting as a conduit, a megaphone, a follow-spot operator, a myth debunker, and a cut-through-the-bullshit filter."

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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, Art Director & Layout Andreas Kahre Copy Editor Hilary Maxwell Contributors to this issue: Adam Hayward, Alvin Erasga Tolentino, Linda Blankstein Photography: Angel Lynne (cover), Linda Blankstein, Carol Brown Dean McKenzie Cooper, Adam Hayward Dance Centre Board Members Chair Ingrid M. Tsui Vice Chair Josh Martin Secretary Margaret Grenier Treasurer Matthew Breech Past Chair Beau Howes, CFA Directors Carolyn Chan Eve Chang Jai Govinda Anndraya T. Luui Starr Muranko Dance Foundation Board Members Chair Linda Blankstein Secretary Anndraya T. Luui Treasurer Jennifer Chung Directors Trent Berry, Kimberley Blackwell, Praveen K. Sandhu, Janice Wells, Andrea R. Wink, Dance Centre Staff: Executive Director Mirna Zagar Programming Coordinator Raquel Alvaro Marketing Manager Heather Bray Digital Marketing Coordinator Katrina Nguyen Venue and Services Administrator Robin Naiman Development Director Sheri Urquhart Lead Technician Chengyan Boon Accountant Elyn Dobbs Member Services and Outreach Coordinator Hilary Maxwell Member Services and Development Assistant Anna Dueck 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 bynumerous 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, the BC Arts Council, and the

ONGOING NOVEMBER 22 - 25 10am-9pm Film Screening: F-O-R-M @ DIV Scotiabank Dance Centre, Level 7 Dance Histories Project installations (animated 7-8pm) Scotiabank Dance Centre lobby Level 1

WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 22

10-11.30am Event: Working Class Dance In Vancouver Special Delivery Professional contemporary dance class open for viewing (Training Society of Vancouver) Scotiabank Dance Centre 4-5.30pm Discussion: Why Shrink the World? Scotiabank Dance Centre 8-9.15pm Performance: Wen Wei Dance Dialogue Scotiabank Dance Centre 8-9.15pm Satellite Performance Company 605 In Circulation Shadbolt Centre for the Arts

THURSDAY NOVEMBER 23 10-11.30am Event: Working Class Dance In Vancouver Special Delivery Professional contemporary dance class open for viewing (Training Society of Vancouver) Scotiabank Dance Centre 1.15-2.30pm Event: Foolish Operations/Julie Lebel + Shay Kuebler Radical System Art, SFU Woodwards Atrium 3-4pm IndigeDIV Keynote: TBA Vancouver International Film Centre 4-5.30pm IndigeDIV Conversation: Building Meaningful Relationships Vancouver International Film Centre

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Dance Central September/October 2017


Dance in Vancouver 2017 Schedule 5.30-5.45pm Event: Olivia C. Davies/Home: Our Way Collective. Gathering the Fire, Vancouver International Film Centre

8-9:15pm Satellite Performance Vanessa Goodman/Action at a Distance Wells Hill SFU Woodwards

7-7.30pm Event: Boombox (Off-site)

8-9.15pm Satellite Performance Company 605 In Circulation Shadbolt Centre for the Arts

8-9.15pm Performance: Double Bill Meredith Kalaman Femme Fatales (excerpt) Ziyian Kwan/dumb instrument Dance Kwan Yin Scotiabank Dance Centre 8-9:15pm Satellite Performance Vanessa Goodman/Action at a Distance Wells Hill SFU Woodwards 8-9.15pm Satellite Performance Company 605 In Circulation Shadbolt Centre for the Arts 9-10pm + 10pm-late Satellite Event plastic orchid factory Digital Folk, Left of Main

FRIDAY NOVEMBER 24

10-11.30am Event: Working Class Dance In Vancouver Special Delivery Professional contemporary dance class open for viewing (Training Society of Vancouver), Scotiabank Dance Centre

9-10pm + 10pm-late Satellite Event plastic orchid factory Digital Folk Left of Main SATURDAY NOVEMBER 25

1-2pm Performance: Mixed Program Julianne Chapple + Mahaila Patterson-O’Brien + Marissa Wong + Shay Kuebler/Radical System Art, Scotiabank Dance Centre 12- 1pm IndigeDIV Sharing: Denise Brisson, Olivia C. Davies, Margaret Grenier, Jeanette Kotowich, Jessica McMannMichelle Olson, and Michelle Olson, KW Studios 4-5.30pm IndigeDIV Conversation: Indigenous Creative Process KW Studios 6-6.30pm Event: Boombox (Off-site)

3.15-4pm Discussion: Why Do You Curate? Scotiabank Dance Centre

8-9.15pm Performance Double Bill Aeriosa Second Nature (excerpt) Co.ERASGA Tracing Malong Scotiabank Dance Centre

4-6pm IndigeDIV Confluence: Film Screening + Conversation: Value-Guided Practice, Vancouver International Film Centre

8-9:15pm Satellite Performance Vanessa Goodman/Action at a Distance Wells Hill SFU Woodwards

7-7.30pm Event: Boombox (Off-site)

8-9.15pm Satellite Performance Company 605 In Circulation Shadbolt Centre for the Arts

8-9.15pm Performance: Double Bill Karen Jamieson/Karen Jamieson Dance & Margaret Grenier/Dancers of Damelahamid light breaking broken Lesley Telford/Inverso Spooky Action at a Distance (Phase One) Scotiabank Dance Centre

SUNDAY NOVEMBER 26 2-3:15pm Satellite Performance Vanessa Goodman/Action at a Distance Wells Hill SFU Woodwards Dance Central September/October 2017

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Power of Dance A conversation with Alvin Erasga Tolentino & Linda Blankstein The Power of Dance: Youth Engagement Program is a unique opportunity for youth to work with a team of professional artists from diverse backgrounds. The workshops are designed for youth who would not normally have access to Canadian arts and cultural opportunities, and will provide a nurturing and supportive entry way into using the performing arts as a means of self expression to assist in developing new life skills and knowledge of their new Canadian homeland. Four 2-hour sessions, based on dance, movement exploration, creative writing, theatre techniques and games.

AK: Watching some of the video material that emerged from the Power of Dance: New Immigrant and Refugee Youth project, the participants look like they have become active, engaged youth. Have they overcome their traumatic experiences? LB: We work with all kinds of youth at different levels of their settlement journey. The ones you saw in the video have already been in Canada one to two years, but this summer we worked with youth at the Welcome Centre, through Immigrant Services Society, which means they have been in Canada only between one and three weeks, and they were a lot more confused and stressed. Some youth, like those Alvin is going to do a workshop at the Killarney Community Centre, are part of the Vancouver School Board Settlement Program and have to fulfill certain status requirements in Canada. AK: How did the project start? LB: Before I started with The Dance Centre, I worked at Made in BC - Dance on Tour. The BC Arts Council announced the Youth Engagement Program and I thought 'Why don't we apply for something and get artists that are interested in working in a diverse manner?' Made in BC is a touring organization, and lots of times artists are asked to do a variety of community outreach activities while on tour, so I wrote the grant, with the concept to combine co-facilitators with different skills, so they could learn from each other and then try to place them with groups of youth that were more challenging to work with than regular dance students. We worked with indigenous youth, single teen moms, refugee and immigrant youth, and when I joined The Dance Centre I reapplied, fine-tuned the focus, and brought Alvin Erasga Tolentino in because he was one of the people that really got into the project with Made in BC. It is very important that the facilitator resonates with the process. 8

Dance Central September/October 2017

PO PO OF DA DA


THE THE OWER OWER ANCE ANCE

AK: What are the challenges? What is different compared to a regular youth workshop? LB: One of the biggest challenges as we bring other facilitators to the project and expand it and Alvin works with them, is the inconsistency of the youth’s attendance. This year we are shortening the workshop and we are trying to get the youth to commit to all four sessions, but it is hard, as often the demands of their family are very high as the youth we work with may be the only one in the family who speaks English, and they are really relied upon, or they are working, or their focus has to be school, so to get them to find four free hours a week for ten weeks was a lot. That was our first project. It was really great because we really got to know the youth. AET: The first year really was a period of trial and error. What is our relationship to the youth, who are they, where are they, and as Linda said, some have been here two years, some have been here only two weeks. How do we adapt to that? and that learning curve and phase gave us a chance to think about how to move forward, how to provide an actual creative space where they can go to play and be together as youth. We are working on how to make it more fluid in terms of our relationship with them and The Dance Centre. LB: The first year really was about exploring the workshops, the youth and techniques for the facilitators, and this year for me, it was more a way to use our funding as a platform to ensure the program becomes embedded into The Dance Centre's programming, which means it needs to be affordable and manageable within our means, which are fairly confined, so it's about taking the time while we have the financial support to find appropriate community partners, such as Immigration Services Society, which are also under development and just last year got a full-time person focusing on youth programming, which has helped a lot. We are working with them trying to embed what we do into their focus, so it continues and we don't start from scratch each year. Same with SWIS — Settlement Workers in Schools, which we partnered with in the summer, and again in the fall of this year, and are hoping to do fall and spring workshops every year moving forward. I hope to get the administrative work done and community partners in place so that it can be twice a year in various places; this year was about developing facilitators and working with a variety of artists. Dance Central September/October 2017

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AK: You are working not only with contemporary dance but also with other dance forms? AET: This past summer we worked with five different artists from the dance community ranging from contact improvisation to flamenco, and hip-hop to vogueing so that we could explore a variety of artistic practices to integrate it into the youth’s dance experience. AK: Is there anything that you found particularly successful in engaging them? LB: Many youth like hip-hop because they know it, they

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Dance Central September/October 2017

watch it on YouTube and they are familiar with the music, so that is often their top request but we found that using contemporary dance worked much better as the facilitators could incorporate movement phrases that the youth created. AET: I think the youth are interested in having the opportunity to explore their own creativity, so the facilitators create movement and choreography, but they also find it themselves and then we explore that together, this allows us to showcase movement directly influenced and created by the youth themselves. The showing that we did in December of 2016 was really successful and the youth really enjoyed themselves and the opportunity to share with friends and family.


LB: The feedback we got was that they wanted to show what they did, so this year in the 4-week workshop structure, the last half hour is reserved for a small showing with family and friends. AK: You also worked with a combination of poetry and dance. How did that idea come about? AET: When Linda approached me, she also asked if I was interested in exploring diversity in disciplines, moving toward theatre, music and writing. One of the artists who had worked with Made in BC was Amal Rana, who is a poet and writer, so we approached her and we co-facilitated the very first part of the project at Scotiabank Dance Centre. We combined text and movement; I worked with the dance component, and she worked with writing and voice. We had different youth from many parts of the world, so we tried a whole range of approaches, and the youth really enjoyed it. Fortunately, we also had a really good chunk of time to immerse with the youth, to take our time, and get to know the process and the organization we worked with. AK: What is the age range? LB: In order to qualify for our funding, the youth have to be between 15 and 24, so every workshop is a bit different; with SWIS they are in high school, between 14 and 18. A few were a bit older. AK: How do you determine group size? AET: It is really open, depending mainly on the spaces available. The most we can accommodate are about 20-25. AK: How are they selected? LB: In the first year, when we ran our own workshops we looked for participants ourselves, and it was hard starting from scratch to find youth and to maintain communication with them. That's why we started working with community partners, to help sign up the youth, maintain relationships and communications as well as having experienced Youth Workers available in case they are needed. We also found working in a space that is more familiar to them and closer to home works best. The Killarney Community Centre has a beautiful dance studio, so there we can take as many as 25. AK: It was interesting to see how comfortable they seemed to be in their interactions, regardless of the cultural differences. I also noticed that a lot of the movement they explored was gesturally

Power of Dance A conversation with Alvin Erasga Tolentino & Linda Blankstein

"My country of origin is Tibet. I am 20 years old. I came to Canada in 2015. It helped me a lot cause I loved dancing since my childhood. I loved that I got to do it again, and also made many good friends. I am still in touch with them and we interacted pretty well and got to know each very well as we all loved dancing. I would love to see the workshop continue as it helps immigrants like us to make new friends and also to get out of our comfort zone. Really thankful to Alvin and your team for all those fun times we had together and also learnt a lot by just dancing, please continue this workshop I would love to join again."

based. Is that something they bring to the workshops on their own? Dance Central September/October 2017

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Power of Dance A conversation with Alvin Erasga Tolentino and Linda Blankstein

"I came from Iran two years ago.This workshop helped me a lot with confidence. I always loved dance but I couldn’t attend them because it was really expensive and because of my English. I might have felt like I’m different than others. I really loved this workshop because I found new friends and had so much fun!" Zahra Alilo

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Dance Central September/October 2017


asked to do a hip-hop class, and some of the women AET: Yes, in the part where I was working with them our inten-

especially from the Middle East were not comfortable

tion was to allow them to come up with their own gestures and

with that and opted out. We all have to be sensitive

movements, and the facilitator would just help them develop

to what may happen and to be able to react quickly.

the movement further.

Facilitators may come with a lesson plan but need to be prepared to throw it out the window if the youth do not

LB: One thing I really liked, especially in the workshops for

respond. We had a conservative young woman from

new immigrants at Immigrant Services Society of BC, was that

Syria, very recently arrived, who was not comfortable in

there were youth from the Philippines, China, India, Syria, Iran,

the class, when she was asked to share something she

and Iraq, sometimes there was just one youth from a country

was familiar with, she did some belly-dancing moves,

with limited English, and you could watch them find ways to

and everyone thought it was amazing. She taught

communicate, and to see friendships develop. When you come

the others, and then her whole persona in the class

from a closed social environment to Canada, which is so open

changed. A lot is about the facilitator, what they see in

and diverse, it was really rewarding to see that the workshops

the room and how they react to it.

were helping to breaking down cultural barriers. AET: I really think you have to be fluid and realize who AK: How do you communicate with them after the workshops?

is there and how you can be really responsive to the number and the type of youth in the room. For me as a

LB: We have set up a Facebook page and we send a Mailchimp

facilitator, it is a sensitive issue, and you have to be very

newsletter out to everyone we have come in contact with

present, which is what we constantly talk about when

and try to offer them access to what is programmed by The

we reach out for other facilitators. Fortunately, we know

Dance Centre, and to try to keep them in touch with free open

who the artists are and that they have a sensitivity to

showings, classes, and ticket giveaways, and to involve them

these kind of issues.

in Canadian arts and culture. Last year, Alvin took his group to the Vancouver Art Gallery; none of them had been before, and

AK: Are the youth comfortable finding themselves in a

they did some dancing in the Gallery, which was lovely. We

‘co-ed’ situation?

also did a one day workshop with Mique'l Dangeli and three or four youth came to that. We also had two who wanted to

LB: Some aren’t, and we have had people opt out

sign-up with Aeriosa Dance to volunteer at their outdoor event

because of that.

in Stanley Park this past July. AK: I noticed that there wasn’t any 'floor work' in the AK: If some youth are recently arrived and some have been

videos. Is that a choice by the youth or the facilitators, or

here for two years, and some are new, how do they interact?

is there another reason?

LB: I would say our workshops attract people who have been

AET: In the first program, we did some floor work, be-

in the county for a similiar length of time.

cause we were at the Anvil Centre, which has a beautiful studio space, and also at Scotiabank Dance Centre, but

AET: They certainly interact socially in the space once they are

we have also been in spaces where we just couldn’t do

comfortable, and they are quite present on social media. They

it. For me, it’s great if they can explore the floor, so that it

also have a tendency to form groups.

isn’t always vertical, and when the opportunity presents itself, they adapt and explore. It’s not an issue, except

AK: Given that they come from so many different cultures, with

for the spaces we work in.

so many different ideas of what is appropriate behaviour for the body and for youth, how do they find common ground?

LB: It also has to do with time, although it doesn’t take that long for them to be comfortable with the facilitators.

LB: It is both the youth and us and the facilitators who have

Some engage more readily than others; with Immigrant

to find our way. This summer, one of the five facilitators was

Services, we had people sitting on the sidelines, but at Dance Central September/October 2017

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Dance Central September/October 2017


least they were clapping and laughing, and that’s a step in the right direction. The whole purpose is to allow them to

LB: I think that is really important, and even though

stay at their own comfort level and not feel judged…

we haven’t discussed it in detail, we are in conversation with the community partners in order to make

AET: …and to really explore what that comfort zone is. To

the program as authentic and as safe as possible.

not push it too much but to give them the opportunity, and

Initially, we really were on our own, and that was not

that’s when as a facilitator, you have to observe where that

always comfortable. Now, with the community part-

is. Sometimes it isn’t the facilitator that will bridge the gap

nerships, we have support for the youth who are usu-

but the other youth. So, you have to observe, and that is

ally part of a larger program, and they have a personal

really a learned skill.

connection with a SWIS worker or a youth worker who are present, so there is a contact and resources

AK: How did you integrate movement and text?

that we can use if and when there are issues, but for the facilitating artists it is a concern.

AET: We had only one text-based facilitator so far, but it began with me asking them to describe their names, write

AET: Arts funding is increasingly based on working

them down and then create a movement vocabulary. That

with the community but I believe that as artists we

started the notion of exploring their own language, and

have to ask ourselves ‘do I, as a professional dance

Amal would work with them in whatever language was

artist have the resources I need to work in this capac-

available to them. They wrote more about the origins of

ity?’ I believe community outreach is important in

their names and what they represented.

the cultural sector and we need to ensure that we develop the skills and be provided with the tools, to

LB: Arash Khakpour did a two hour one-off session, and

do our work respectfully and properly.

is going to back to Immigrant Services for another, longer one. He brought drawing materials and asked them

AK: For the coming year, what will you change, ex-

to draw (actually, he asked them to draw what resonated

pand, or shift in the program?

from the class content, but many drew their homes) and then he asked them to dance it — which they did, and that

LB: I think we will have to see if the four-week format

in two hours is pretty amazing, so we are curious to see

works and is long enough to do the work, or if we

where he will get in four sessions.

need to consider six weeks. We have tried different formats and will now analyze if this works and discuss

AK: Community outreach has become a very important

with the facilitators about how they feel about what

aspect of how funders allocate their support. Often this

they are accomplishing within the time frame and if

involves familiar forms of workshops, presentations and

the youth feel fulfilled. We have also changed Alvin’s

conversations, but what you are doing here requires a

involvement to act in the role of ‘artistic advisor' and

whole other level of skill and resources in order for all the

are looking to find more people who really want to do

participants, youth as well as facilitators, to be in a safe

the work. It is difficult for professional dancers/chore-

space. How do you meet these demands?

ographers /artists to find four weeks in their schedule to commit to this type of project, however we feel

AET: That is a very important question. As a professional

very strongly that we need to work with professional

artist, recognizing that the youth coming here are often

artists in order to keep the workshops on a very high

dealing with profound psychological trauma, while having

artistic level. Integrity on all levels is crucial to the

to integrate themselves into a new country, I have to ask

success of this program.

myself as a facilitator ‘How equipped am I?’ I believe that question needs to be put out to the participating organi-

AET: Many of the artists who want to be working with

zations, the artists, and also the funders: ‘Do we have a

youth and community may be on stage, in creation,

method we can use when we are engaging in this kind of

research or on tour. It is also a critical part of The

exploration with the community?’

Dance Centre's role in connecting to the community.

Dance Central September/October 2017

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Power of Dance A conversation with Alvin Erasga Tolentino and Linda Blankstein It is a really important aspect of our work and it is important for the funding bodies to recognize that. At the same time, for me, this is such an important program. It is responding to the shift in what is happening in terms of migration and population growth in Canada, and how we deal with involvement is critical. AK: When are the next workshops going to take place? LB: The first of the fall 2017 workshops took place October 21-November 11 at Killarney Community Centre, and the second series will take place November 29-December 20 at Immigrant Services Society. AK: Thank you! .

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Dance Central September/October 2017

"This was the best workshop that I had ever done, it made me realize that how unique and beautiful we all are in our own way. Please continue making this workshop cause this helps immigrants like us to open up and be ourselves and also find some confdence within us."


t d e w l n e p s o e o e "

Heavy Ground A conversation with Adam Hayward continued from page 5

have gone away and returned home. With DIV participants, I hope we can have these conversations about going away from your country, and your tried and tested companies, and to challenge yourself as a curator or a presenter. There is a workshop in DIV this year called 'Why do you curate?'

in France in 1968 or of Eugenio Barba’s Odin Teatre in Holstebro

and I want as many presenters from the CanDance network

in Denmark. I find this shifting away from the centres liberat-

and Made in BC and from Vancouver to be in that room

ing. When I think of a festival like PuSh, there is a wonderful

with artists and public and literally answer that question.

trust that comes from the peripheral nature, that feeling on the

I am very interested in marginal and peripheral presence.

margins gives a lot more freedom in what you can get away

For example, I have gone to Ice Hot, the Nordic dance

with, because there is not an expectation that you will have to

platform in Stockholm (2010), Copenhagen (2016) and

concede to the norm or the stereotype. People think FTA is so

Helsinki (2012). The most interesting work, to me, is what is

cool because it is in Montreal and because it is FTA, but that is its

happening on the edges, in Finland and Iceland (which are

downfall in a sense, because it becomes a victim of its geog-

not classed as Scandinavian countries, incidentally) rather

raphy. There are other spaces like the Walker in Minneapolis,

than Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, New Zealand is also

outside the conventional circuit, and I recommend people go

strange marginal place — sometimes people ask where in

to New York in January for Under the Radar, and Coil and so

Australia it is located — and I love the Pacific Northwest

on, but then piggyback a trip to PuSh in Vancouver, where the

rim, with Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver. That periphery

public may feel marginalized, on the periphery, as 'l'étranger' in

is where I think the most interesting things happen.

the meaning of Camus, and there is a hunger to experience new work in a hidden geography.

AK: Speaking of the marginal, the question of indigenous artists, in New Zealand as much as here, and their presence

AK: PuSh programs physical work and dance as well. What dis-

in the arts and festivals is interesting. There is a recent up-

tinguishes it from DIV?

surge of acknowledgment of First Nations presence at least, although it is still just a beginning. How does that compare

AH: PuSh is a pan-artform festival. DIV is very local in terms of

to New Zealand from your perspective?

drawing attention to the Vancouver dance scene, but this year, I am bringing three New Zealand dance artists to DIV. It is inter-

AH: New Zealand is interesting. It has a Maori indigenous

esting to see the similarity to an issue I have with artists in New

political party which had recognition and seats in par-

Zealand; the mentality created by an idyllic place that makes

liament — until the recent election, at least. In terms of

people say 'why would I go somewhere else?' New Zealand, like

indigenous dance, if you look at Australia and New Zea-

the West Coast, is a beautiful country, a stunning landscape, you

land, the treatment is very different. In New Zealand, there

are never far from ocean or mountains, and life is very comfort-

are indigenous dance companies that are funded, a slew

able. The problem with that is that the work becomes stale or

of independent indigenous artists, the likes of Jack Gray,

complacent because it doesn’t have a global context, or a frame

Louise Potiki Bryant, Black Grace, Lemi Ponifasio —probably

of reference against which to compare itself. Because of the

our most well-known ‘export’ choreographer. There was an

economy of distance, you can't bring massive touring produc-

indigenous dance festival called Kowhiti, a few years ago,

tions to New Zealand. However, in the context of the move from

and I was asked to curate a panel of indigenous choreog-

product to process, I was in Japan a couple of years ago and met

raphers. I started by saying 'I have one question and then I

with Saburo Teshigawara, the founder of KARAS, and chatted to

will leave the stage: How does it feel to be programmed as

him about the idea of a 'failure project' as a space to play, and

an artist because of the colour of your skin?' They went off

he said 'I wish someone invited me to do that, to have the space

for an hour and a half. I found it interesting because at DIV

not to have to present the next multi-million dollar production

they have just begun the acknowledgment of indigenous

in Paris or wherever.' I think there are economically perpetu-

land, and settlement, and I look at what has happened in

ated problems but the only way we can contextualize ourselves

the last two years with the Museum of Anthropology and

as artists on a global scale is to see other's practices. What I

people like Margaret Grenier and all of that becoming more

observe is that those artists who make the most interesting work

prominent. I guess the question from a curator's point of Dance Central September/October 2017

17


t

Heavy Ground A conversation with Adam Hayward

subsidy for the cost of a $30 show and take it to the community that would most benefit from seeing it and offer them a $5 ticket. How can we, instead of a venue subsidy, create a ticket subsidy, so we can go out and through connection

view is 'Are you curating it because it is indigenous or be-

officers and say: We are not just coming into your commu-

cause it is quality, and because of its relevance to what you

nity to present this token piece of indigenous work, but it has

want to curate?' There is large and small 'p' politics in play

a voice because of its quality within the festival framework.

here, but I think in New Zealand we are more fortunate

Yes, there is a reality that we have to charge an amount that

than in a lot of countries with an indigenous history in that

is beyond the standard price, but we can offer a subsidy.

we have a treaty that is ‘honoured’, and we have platforms,

Of course, there also has to be an interest and a willingness

and our indigenous work is programmed domestically as

on the part of indigenous audiences to come out of their

quality work, rather than as indigenous work, and there is

comfort zone and say 'We are interested.' It has to be driven

no quota to fulfill. It is interesting to see those conversa-

from the ground up, but there also has to be an education

tions happen in Canada, and to see how far behind coun-

and informing of that ground level that says 'This is available

tries like Australia are. I think it comes down to treatment

to you if you wish to connect.' I think that audience develop-

on a national level, and there will always be grievances

ment in contemporary dance has a universal message.

and a relationship of colonizer/colonize. AK: In your video invitation, you emphasize that Dance In AK: In Canada, sadly, our first conversation, apart from

Vancouver should be experienced as a 'journey'. What do

residential schools and the safety of indigenous women

you have in mind?

would have to be about providing a reliable supply of safe drinking water to Canadians who happen to live in

AH: I find with festivals and platforms that people turn up

First Nations communities. But going back to your ques-

at the theatre, they watch the show, they stick around for

tion about 'who do we curate for', there is a First Nations

a Q&A — which I hate and propose to ban — and then they

audience, but even if DIV has programmed an indigenous

leave. It is a bubble: 'Tonight we are going to the theatre.' For

artist, finding and engaging that audience in the context of

me, the idea comes from the Christchurch experience that

a contemporary dance event is not an easy task. Speaking

our audiences had to travel outside their comfort zone to get

of the honest conversations you are hoping to encourage,

to the space where we presented work because we had lost

how does one alter that?

our traditional venues to the earthquake. So, I said "What if we propose that DIV was curated as an entity, that there was

AH: To use the New Zealand example, there is an econom-

contact from the moment you turned on your TV in the hotel

ic stereotype because a lot of Maori people are in a lower

room.”. I was in a Tapas restaurant in Gastown with Justine A.

socioeconomic stratum, and there have been instances

Chambers, and some of the waitresses were dancers/artists.

where indigenous works were presented and indigenous

There is this myth that dancers have money, and I thought

audiences couldn't afford to see it. Our biggest theatre

we would go with a group of people to this restaurant and

in Christchurch is a 1400 seat proscenium, and we have

that the meals will be hosted by artists in the festival, and

created programs where we take kids in schools of lower

the following day you will have lunch with them. The walks

economic status for a term and teach them dance; salsa,

between theatres will be along a path where the artists have

contemporary, jazz, swing, tango, ballroom (but no hip

to work during the day. I proposed to stage a fire alarm, but

hop) and then let them perform on that stage, in a theatre

that didn't work. The challenge to the audiences is: 'Don't just

they would never be able to afford, for their families. My

drop in to see the work by artists you know; join them at the

challenge to that theatre for the last couple of years has

restaurants they work in, and they will be there with you and

been that as a festival or community organization I can

talk about the show’.This is nothing new brought in suddenly

raise the money to pay for that theatre, and I don't want

by an outsider — festivals all over the world are doing it, but

to devalue to cost of that ticket, but I want to develop a

I recommend the encounter. One of my favourite works from

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Dance Central September/October 2017


"...one of the big failings of curators globally is that there are three kinds of major obsessions which let down the arts: An obsession with time, with space, and with ego." Dance Central September/October 2017

19


"I have one question and the stage: How does it feel to be progra artist because of the colour of your skin the last DIV was Justine's choreographed walk, because

AH: The original theme which is now more implicit than explicit is

you begin to see the city through different eyes, you stop

Heavy Ground, which is about the fact that our connection to the land

taking it for granted, your relationship to the space that

is experienced as a given and in isolation, instead of being a global

surrounds you should not be a given. The festival should

connection. I look at a Pacific island body or a Maori body and a Ca-

permeate the entire city.

nadian body, and they are different. It is just in the nature of geography and culture and existence. In our search for identity we want to

AK: Are you proposing a question, or a concept by your

look at how we frame our existence in relation to those dimensions.

selection of work?

We can get a little stuck in our spot and our landscape or, within a city, you get stuck within your culture, or tribe. Can we begin to open

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Dance Central September/October 2017


Heavy Ground A conversation with Adam Hayward

of the difficulty of integrating Chinese and Western cultural aspects in his work and his life, Karen Jamieson describes her journey into First Nations culture as critical to developing her artistic identity, and an artist like Ziyian Kwan describes cultural identity as a process of discovery and invention. They and many others are also currently exploring about how these relationships shift as they age. AH: I also think of people like Aryo and Arash Khakpour, but to go back to that notion of indigenous identity, New Zealand regards itself as a bi-cultural country, but as a multicultural society, and that is an interesting way to frame it. There is Maori and Pakeha culture; I am not sure there are any pure blood Maori left, but the balance and negotiation continues. Those who are part of an older generation had to struggle and fought to achieve that success, and I think it is interesting to have a non-indigenous–to-Canada guest curator. I applaud Mirna for doing this, choosing Pirjetta and me, and with Jason Dubois on board as a producer, there are plenty of people out there who are asking that challenging question 'Why we are presenting what we are presenting? Why do you label

d then I will leave ammed as an n?"

yourself as an indigenous choreographer? That takes me back to the Heavy Ground idea; we a re caught by those layers of history that we sit on as artists and presenters and curators, and we need to constantly put a spotlight on these questions. AK: What do you aim for in curating DIV this year? AH: I think that The Dance Centre is positioned really interestingly globally, and we should not underestimate the

our eyes and ask questions about these connections, and perhaps even reject them? I am not saying you have to acknowledge that you are one being in a universal cosmos and you have to know everybody, but ask the

intelligence of our audiences, and also the desire of artists and curators to be challenged. We want to give them the opportunity to be challenged, and our role is to give them the opportunity to think differently. If we just continue to present

question in order to affirm your answer.

regular platforms we perpetuate the same problems. In con-

AK: Looking at this question in relation to who is rep-

to be a lot more support given so we can give the chances to

resented in the DIV lineup, many of these artists have explored and sometimes struggled with the different dimensions of their cultural identities: Wen Wei speaks

versations with Mirna and others around Canada, there needs join and experience the event as journey. AK: Thank you!

Dance Central September/October 2017

21


Dance Central

September/October 2017

Dance Central Sept Oct 2017  
Dance Central Sept Oct 2017  

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

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