Ten Seasons, Ten Stories: Dance Central 2001-2011 Edited by Kaija Pepper
Contents Introduction by Kaija Pepper
TEN STORIES Look Way Up By Julia Taffe
Bull in a China Shop: dances made under the influence of poetry By Anne Cooper
Joe Laughlin Remembers
Longing to be Seen: Authentic Movement, Performance and Dance By Tannis Hugill
From Submission to Suggestion: The Hidden World of Tango By Susana Domingues
Dancing to the Four Corners By Rosario Ancer
Drift-Walks: Acts of Poetic Resistance By Julie Lebel
Beer and Ninja Turtles: A Memoir By Josh Martin
My Twisted Process By Martha Carter
The Story of Compaigni Vâ€™ni Dansi By Yvonne Chartrand
An A to Z of Writers
AFTERWORD by Eury Chang
Introduction My favourite column when I edited The Dance Centre’s member newsletter, Dance Central, was The Personals. My predecessor, Fran Brafman, started it as a first-person forum where people could reflect on their involvement in dance. The premier column was written by Catherine Lubinsky in February 1993 on the occasion of her retirement from the stage. “I thought that I would write about the end of dance,” wrote Catherine, “rather than quietly fade into the woodwork.” The Personals didn’t last. I can’t remember why, but suspect the amount of work involved was behind its demise. Writing is slow and often laborious, and dance artists have busy lives in the studio and exciting ones on stage. They had to be cajoled into tackling full-length articles, and so I focused on shorter stories about the creative process behind an upcoming work, timing publication for the month of the premiere. Background pieces about artistic history and practice, with call-outs about classes or workshops, were also an easier “ask.” In these ways, I got the original first-person story I wanted, the artist got publicity: a fair trade. The first newsletter in 1987 was a single sheet of paper filled with news items. When Fran passed the editorship to me in 1995, she’d built the publication to 20 pages. Besides The Personals, a front-page report was in place from then-executive director Marlin Clapson, sometimes offered to a Dance Centre board member. Nicola Follows’ “Homeward Bound” opened my first newsletter in June, a board report about what was then just a dream: a shared facility for the Vancouver dance community. Stories about the many steps that led to what became Scotiabank Dance Centre were key to the newsletter as we were all swept up in the excitement of establishing a home for dance in Vancouver. Once Mirna Zagar was appointed executive director in 1998, her front-page reports were full of facility news. When the building’s tenth anniversary approached, Mirna and I wanted to celebrate the role of Dance Central in fostering community and sharing ideas through its less tangible, but equally important space – first on paper, since 2009 on the internet. The result is Ten Seasons, Ten Stories: Dance Central 2001-2011. Thanks to Eury Chang (Dance Central editor 2004-2011) for joining me in the selection process for this anniversary collection and for his Afterword. Thanks also to the contributors (whose articles are edited for this booklet). These kinds of original first-person stories about art, process, history and life in dance are the gold that made my time with Dance Central so worthwhile. Recently, Andreas Kahre took over the leadership of the online publication and he’s already finding his own gold. Kaija Pepper, Editor April 2012
Look Way Up
By Julia Taffe
Twenty-first-century life is about fusion. As artists, we reflect the world around us, and one of the ways we strive to make our work relevant is to combine and borrow from other disciplines. Aerial dance is a fusion of dance and climbing. The use of climbing safety equipment can free a performance from the constraints of a traditional stage and provide a dancer with a new set of gravitational rules for play. My first aerial dance performance took place on a hot July afternoon in 1998, on the towering, white marble Bank of Montreal building in downtown Calgary. I was a new member of Project Bandaloop, a pioneering troupe of aerial dancers and climbers from California. We were holding a day of open rehearsals for an upcoming series of skyscraper performances in Houston, Texas. My background is modern dance, but I am also an experienced climber and a professional climbing guide. I have spent many days climbing sinuous, challenging mountain routes, where every deliberate movement earns you some right to look down with a confident sense of abstracted familiarity. That day in Calgary, I discovered that tall buildings are different. An elevator ride provides no comforting references to vertical space. We rode the elevator as far as it went â€“ up to the 21st floor. Someone handed me a waiver of liability, which I signed. We entered an electrical room and climbed a metal ladder through the ceiling. One by one our heads popped through the opening in the black tar roof, and we pulled ourselves up to stand in the hot sun. A carefully organized web of black static rope and carabiners, standard climbing gear, greeted us. The company risk manager, Peter Mayfield, and our artistic director, Amelia Rudolph, called the dancers together for a pre-rehearsal meeting. The six of us formed a circle with them and took an undistracted moment to review the anchor systems and listen to the safety protocols for this location. Then it was time to head over the edge and dance. This particular entrance onto the vertical stage required that I swing my legs over the edge of the building and then carefully weight the anchor system until I hung by my harness â€“ attached to a heavy rope that stretched 250 feet below me â€“ down to the ground. As I slowly worked through the rigging steps, I felt my heart beat faster. My fingers tingled with a surge of adrenalin. I checked, re-checked and then had two other people check my system set-up. It was surreal to be preparing
to dangle above rush hour traffic. The urban cacophony of noise rose in distorted waves from the pavement below. It seemed our entrance would pass unnoticed by the tiny people on the ground. At last I was in place, bare feet pressed into the warm marble wall. Sitting in my harness, I took a moment to breathe, and then slowly began to slide down the rope. When I reached the proper level I tied a backup knot behind my rappelling device. Tentatively at first, looking to the other dancers for clues, I began to push away from the building and loft into the air. Lofting is the aerial equivalent of Limón’s fall and recovery impulse. A hanging dancer pushes away from a vertical surface to experience a moment of weightlessness at the top of the pendulum and then returns to a grounded landing. The length of suspension in the loft is unique to each location: in some (highly coveted!) circumstances a dancer might fly for ten exquisite seconds before being forced to return to earth. When I leaned way back in an arch, someone told me to let go of my rope. I realized I had been gripping on with white-knuckled fervour. One of the dancers showed me how to spring off the wall in a double spinning front flip, landing gently feet first. I gathered my legs under me and uncoiled into the air, imitating what I had seen. I whooped and giggled and morphed into one of the crazy flying creatures that filled the air around me. I bounded over to another dancer and we linked hands while kicking backwards heels over head in a movement called an upside-down-double-bat. After this short practice section of improvisation and experimentation, Amelia called the rehearsal together and we began to shape the patterns of the dance. Half an hour later my abdominal muscles were exhausted and I had a splitting upside-down-toolong headache. The word was passed down the line: it was time to head for the ground. I carefully slid the full length of the rope, touched down and gratefully took the weight off my harness. A small crowd was waiting down below. Their faces glowed with vicarious energy. A few days later I saw photos of them watching us work. Mouths were open, heads were thrown back, some people pointed while others lay supine in the middle of the sidewalk. All were immersed in our aerial spectacle. Dance Central September 2001 Julia Taffe combines her passion for landscape, human physicality and adventure to make dances on buildings and mountains. She is the founding artistic director of Aeriosa, a Vancouver company known for performing in public gathering places on vertical architecture, with flying dancers using ropes and harnesses to descend “on rappel.”
Bull in a China Shop: dances made under the influence of poetry
By Anne Cooper
Scene 1 I am on the ferry, on my way to a Victoria bookstore to get an out-of-print book of poems I want to work with for Bull in a China Shop: dances made under the influence of poetry [an evening of dance/theatre created by Anne Cooper, David Bloom and William Moysey, presented at Performance Works in March 2002]. I have been roaming around the terrain of my brain, sifting ideas. The first dance I made with poetry started because I used a few lines of a poem to clarify a quality in a movement I was working on with a dancer, who also loved poetry. Later, whole poems chunked their way into my dances, and then … songs. The state of writing is an irresistible wrestling, a sudden noticing, sequence upon sequence, of all around me. Sentences furl and cave in, not written down, through the mind as sight sees. In this crowded room, it somehow seems subversive to pull out this too-large pad of paper and write what I’m seeing. Now I’m here on the ferry’s upper lounge in a little cubicle, and what was it that seemed so calm and vibrant and necessary to say, only ten minutes ago? But how solid it is to be alone pouring sugar into tea, dumping fries, seeing the grey sea and white waves out the window. The containment of having no one to perceive, observe, resent or even love me in this moment, the utter completeness of choosing to dump half the packet of sugar in the cup now and the rest later. Sun on this ocean. They are warning everyone about the waves, to hang on to the railing if necessary to move around but please stay seated. It’s pretty tame, as far as oceans go, I’m sure. People are throwing up and complaining, however. Scene 2 Kitchen dance: slice, rumple, toe, cheek, and there and there, wrist pull and back in through down, ga da ga, ligament flying out over bone, there bone to there bone, I fall, I follow, later I called it confidence – I fall, I follow, home. 5
Scene 3 These guys are really riled up about a poem David has brought in, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s How Do I Love Thee? I love how differently they say it. I don’t care what it means, just love the sound on my feet, how you can go “1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3” through the “2” of when David says, liltingly, “I love thee with a love I seemed to lose/ With my lost saints.” Bill says, “How do I love thee?” like a plate clattering to the floor. But now he stops, hating the lines: “I love thee freely, as men strive for Right/ I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.” He says that if he were to make a drum solo of this poem, those lines would have a military feel, that the lines are very Victorian and he can’t relate. David says he’d love to hear the drum solo. I agree. I tell him that the lines are not Victorian, that they are completely applicable, only I have no idea how I myself would love like that. We are not going to agree, so we talk about why we are calling all this Bull in a China Shop. Originally, I had liked the fun, chaotic feel of it. Lately, I feel like a bull in the shop of un-made art, wanting to be close to all that beauty, but clumsy. We talk about how life is fragile. How dance and poetry are visceral, elemental, like nature, enduring. Or how grief is like a bull raging around in a shattered heart. How the china shop is a metaphor for our perceptions, assumptions, how bullheaded we are, how we could use a little shaking up. Poetry is a form we have brought our first form up against: theatre for David, music for Bill, dance for me. I thank all the poets I’ve read – I wouldn’t get through a day without their delicious, intoxicating influence. Dance Central March 2002 Anne Cooper is a dancer, choreographer, improviser and teacher. Her solo, apostrophe, was shown at the LOLA Projects 2012, and her work has been presented at Scotiabank Dance Centre and other Vancouver venues. A company member of EDAM, she has also danced for numerous choreographers, recently for Jennifer Clarke and Chick Snipper.
Joe Laughlin Remembers I remember running as fast as I can. I remember falling down again and again. I vividly remember the first time I flew backwards in the air, somersaulted twice and landed on my feet. I remember the first time I jumped up and did a double tour. I loved the feeling of my body in space, changing its relationship to the ground. This was the gymnast in me, which is how I started my movement career. But dance, I discovered during my first class to rehabilitate an injured ankle, holds many more physical, emotional and spiritual possibilities. Not just what, but how the body learns has always fascinated me. When you create the demand for movement, the body develops the correct synapses for that motion. It builds new pathways. Repetition creates a kind of muscle memory. We learn to express ourselves physically. Movement is our first language. My interest as a choreographer is to discover movement that is inherent in our bodies. I use this basic language of the body to create my own physical vocabulary with which to communicate and explore meaning. In The Body Remembers [presented at Scotiabank Dance Centre in November 2002], the dancers and I are examining the structure of the body. Structures, both visible and invisible, and how we fit into them, or donâ€™t, have interested me for some time. With Tara Cheyenne, Amber Funk, James Gnam and Ira Hardy, I am exploring how bodies affect each other in space, and also how space can become energized between bodies. What fuels the impulse to move, and what visceral and emotional sensations do we experience as we move? The bodies in this work are in constant motion, rarely still, always in a state of fall and recovery. The choreography generates a momentum, which propels the performers. The lyrical entwining of the dancers evokes an emotional response. The work speaks to our interdependence as humans and to the necessity of this to maintain our humanity. Dance Central November 2002 Joe Laughlin, the artistic director of Joe Ink, has received commissions to create for the Canada Dance Festival, the National Arts Centre, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Johannesburg-based Moving into Dance Mophatong, among others. He is also the recipient of the Isadora, the Jacqueline Lemieux and the Clifford E. Lee choreographic awards.
Longing to be Seen: Authentic Movement, Performance and Dance By Tannis Hugill
The human need to be recognized and accepted is one of the driving forces of life. Demonstrated in infinite ways, this need shapes the entirety of our experience from our most intimate relationships to the formation of cultures and civilizations. This deep motivation is a part of our creativity and is particularly manifest in the performing arts, especially dance and theatre. What happens within our bodies and psyches when we express the truth of our selves, through our bodies, from the depths of our souls, before another? This profound and mysterious process is the substance of much psychological, philosophical and religious discourse, though the body’s experience has only begun to be included. These issues are the focus of Authentic Movement, an embodied practice that brings multiple levels of our human nature and consciousness into form. It develops the ability to inhabit our bodies, without which we cannot feel truly seen or be in relationship in any aspect of our lives. I discovered this practice after 20 years of creating and performing experimental dance-theatre in New York. Exhausted, my body an empty shell, I had lost myself as a performer. I began to study dance therapy and found Authentic Movement. Slowly I began to feel the life in my body and a depth of connection to others hitherto unknown. I returned to performance with renewed joy. What we call Authentic Movement originated with Mary Whitehouse in the 1950s in southern California. She was a dancer who became one of the founding mothers of what is known as dance therapy. Its roots are in dance, psychology and meditation practices. The deceptively simple format is a dyad between a mover and a witness. The mover delves into the body to bring out inner impulses as movement, sound and gesture. The witness follows their own experience as they watch the mover. They share, providing each with deeply felt acceptance. Part of the first generation of modern dancers, Whitehouse studied with Mary Wigman in Germany and with Martha Graham in the United States. On resuming teaching in Los Angeles, she became interested in the symbolic, communicative and expressive functions of movement. She had begun a Jungian analysis and eventually trained at the Jung Institute in Zurich. Whitehouse developed what she called “Movement in Depth,” which may be considered Jungian “Active Imagination” in movement. Active Imagination is a therapeutic process which permits a client to explore unconscious experience by freely speaking whatever images and associations they have without necessarily making “sense” or structuring thoughts logically. Instead of talking, Whitehouse encouraged her clients to let movement “happen” rather than performing learned, programmed actions, or actions controlled by the mind. The symbols of the Self, which in Jungian terms is the unity of being, arise from the depths of the body, bringing material from the personal, collective and transpersonal unconscious into embodied form. This process is integrated into conscious awareness through dialogue with the witness, the one who is observing while the mover moves. In Whitehouse’s Movement in Depth, the role of witness was held by the teacher/therapist. Janet Adler, who of all of Whitehouse’s students has done the most to create what we now know as Authentic Movement, expanded this role so that mover and witness became interchangeable peers. The form also grew beyond the bounds of therapeutic practice into personal and spiritual growth, and creative resourcing. In her article “Who is the Witness,” in Patrizia Pallaro’s Authentic Movement: Essays by Mary Starks Whitehouse, Janet Adler and Joan Chodorow, Adler describes the relationship between mover and witness as something that occurs on many planes. Gradually the mover internalizes the positive regard of the witness, and the witness internalizes the mover’s process. Ultimately both feel seen by the other, creating profound empathy and compassion in the presence of the inexhaustible 8
wealth of experience drawn from the body’s unconscious depths. To paraphrase Adler, “Authentic Movement is about relationship – of ourselves to ourselves, to others, to our God.” The way that each of us enacts the drive to be seen is shaped by the interaction between our basic nature and our environment. Our sense of self grows in a complex evolution of increased awareness assisted by the mirroring feedback of our early relationships. The experience of being seen is perceived by all of our body’s senses. The mirroring helps us know we are alive and guides the way we create our reality. Our personalities and bodies grow in response to these interactions. Our gifts and talents help define the paths we choose to actualize our desire to be seen. Unfortunately, often we are not given the support that helps us stay connected to our bodies as we grow. Thus we lose connection to ourselves because the desire to be accepted and validated is so strong that we may adapt according to the needs of others more than to our own needs. In much of dance training we are taught to relate to our bodies as instruments, while never really inhabiting them. Authentic Movement is a process that gives ownership of ourselves, but never in isolation. Performing can become an experience of self-negation in the service of pleasing the choreographer, the audience and, most crucially, our internal critic. This creates adversarial relationships that deny, block and imprison us. Developed in order to make sure we “do it right,” the internal critic can be the most difficult to manage. These pressures frustrate our attempts to feel seen, tantalizing us with the hope of approval. Unconscious and unmet longings to be seen can cause considerable angst. Authentic Movement is closely related to the art of dance. Both are first and foremost embodied forms. The mover-witness dyad is mirrored by the performer-audience relationship. The process of creating dance is a process of sourcing the body for what it has to express in ways that words can never replicate. Authentic Movement does this, and also provides a structure to translate the embodied experience into the dimension of words, so that what is moved-danced can reach additional levels of shared experience. Authentic Movement is superficially related to improvisation at its best because it allows the mover to follow deep organic impulses. But there is no goal or end product, no performance to create or shape in the forming that occurs in art-making. The goal is the process of an evolution of greater consciousness of Self. This process can only occur within a compassionate, non-judgmental relationship. The witness is there to nourish and be nourished by this process, whereas the theatre audience is there to be nourished by the art. Authentic Movement encourages the development of an internal witness who listens to our embodied experience with affirmation. We learn to acknowledge our desire to stay in connection with another without sacrificing who we are. We learn to speak of and from the experience in our bodies with honesty, confidence and self-acceptance. We discover paradoxically that by returning to our embodied selves, our relationship to others is enhanced. We learn that we don’t need to do or to make anything happen. By moving from the living vitality of our bodies we will necessarily engage others. Our presence is enough. Thus we may carry ourselves into every arena of our lives and remain ourselves, fully accepting who we are in and through our bodies. Performing from this place encourages the audience to feel and accept their own embodied selves, their vitality, the truths of who they are. When fully inhabited and positively acknowledged, the longing to be seen is met and answered with love. Dance Central November 2002 Tannis Hugill is a dance and drama therapist, spiritual director and creator of ritual theatre. She has been devoted to the arts and healing for 40 years and to Authentic Movement for over 20. She has a private counseling practice and teaches Authentic Movement as well as Moving Prayer. Visit www.awakeningbodywisdom.com.
From Submission to Suggestion: The Hidden World of Tango
By Susana Domingues
“Passion” is one of the first words that most people associate with tango, and the woman’s submission in her role as follower seems to be the first image that comes to mind. The ad campaign for Forever Tango, a production that visited Vancouver twice, capitalized on public fascination with tango’s sexual nature. “Tango. A vertical expression of a horizontal desire” read the ad copy, with posters featuring a picture of a man standing, feet planted firmly apart, while a woman stands with one leg wrapped around his hip. As a tango dancer, I myself have certainly not been unaffected by audience expectations. Whether in theatres or at official government functions, at weddings or bar mitzvahs, there was an expectation that I wear sexy outfits, with high slits in the skirt, and look very serious. I gladly complied and confess I enjoyed playing the part. Although the Forever Tango approach to publicity helps to sell tickets, it leaves the general public with no idea of what tango is to thousands of “tangueros” and “tangueras” worldwide. A tanguero is someone who goes out several times per week to dance tango with friends, strangers or partners in a variety of venues such as halls, studios and café-bars. I visited Argentina several times and found that the world of the tanguero was quite different from that of a tango performer. The relationship of the man and woman dancing tango socially was an area I had not needed to explore as a performer. My goals in tango dance began to shift. Tango has been described as one of the few urban folk dances, born in Buenos Aires, Argentina about 130 years ago. Although there is controversy about the history of tango, I found the best explanation of its origins in a 1998 documentary called Tango, the Obsession, produced and directed by Adam Boucher. In it, historians describe how the city boys, called “compadritos,” who frequented the dance halls, would travel to the outskirts of the city where the African drum dance called candombe (can-dome-bey) would take place. On their next visit to a social dance in the city they would apply the movements they had seen in the candombe to the popular dances of the time, such as the polka and mazurka. They did this partly for fun and partly as an expression of rebellion because the movements from candombe were considered obscene. The historians explain 10
further that the much publicized theory that tango was born in brothels is probably incorrect and that instead it was the prohibition of tango because of its “obscene” nature that drove tango into the brothels where other prohibited activities also took place. Today tango is a subculture in many cities around the world. I believe its staying power has to do with how it has evolved over the years. Through Argentina’s various historical phases, tango has always reflected Argentinean society. Had it not evolved, tango might have remained a folk dance that no longer related to modern society and Argentina might not have had such success in bringing its brand of tango to the rest of the world. In 1985, the dance show Tango Argentino began a successful Broadway and off-Broadway run. As the production toured the world, cast members offered instruction to locals. This was the birth of many social tango dance scenes outside of Argentina. Tango enthusiasts in North America began teaching themselves to dance from any available videos of performances. Tango tourism to Buenos Aires began to bud, and eventually Argentine teachers toured and taught communities about the Argentine way to dance social tango. Now tangueros outside of Argentina must decide whether they want their tango dancing to be an expression of tango’s past (when women’s rights worldwide were not at all what they are today), an expression of Argentine culture or an expression of themselves. Outside of today’s tanguero circles, tango hasn’t ventured far from what it was when Rudolph Valentino first danced it on screen. Women contemplating tango dancing can experience a stumbling block in the idea that they must comply with this outdated image. Obvious questions arise. What if I’m not submissive? Am I supposed to act submissive while dancing tango? What if I am not attracted to the person I am dancing with? Am I to pretend we are in a three-minute romance? What if I feel happy while dancing? Must I stay with the traditional look of tango angst? What about the tradition of man leads/woman follows? Is that still true for today’s woman? Must a woman submit to always following? Perhaps there is a stigma to submission; perhaps the word suggests much more than what it actually defines. Perhaps following does involve submitting to being led. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that one has to be submissive in the role of follower. I like to compare tango to non-verbal dialogue. Not every dialogue with a leader involves dominance and submission. The old cliché holds that it takes two to tango, just as it takes two to engage in complementary roles of any kind. If both partners are into their respective roles, then I see no dilemma. I also see no reason to assume that the roles and experiences we have with dance partners reflect the nature of other interpersonal relationships in our lives. What is most important to me is that the dance becomes a vehicle for genuinely expressing one’s self. I’ve had the privilege of dancing with some great partners. They were all different. Some had an exquisite way of responding to what I was doing, even though I was following. They could intuit the subtle suggestion in my movement and respond through the lead. Sometimes they did this with motives of seduction. Other times, I felt the comfortable warmth of friendship. The character of the dance, and the character of the dancer, can unfold gradually or it can be revealed from the first embrace. That embrace can be a soft nestling into the most comfortable position for both, or it can be an expression of the partner’s need to be strong and take the other dancer somewhere quickly. The possibilities are as endless as the personalities of the dancers. Dance Central December 2002/January 2003 Since 1986, Susana Domingues has performed with many of the tango world’s dance stars and respected teachers and has herself taught many of Canada’s west coast dance teachers. Her dancing and choreography have been featured on Life Cable Network, CBC, City TV, BCTV and The Lone Gunman TV series. See www.tangovancouver.com.
Dancing to the Four Corners By Rosario Ancer
When I was young, La Compañia de Manuela Vargas was performing in Mexico City and I flew down with my family from Monterrey to see them. It was my first experience of flamenco puro and the haunting cry of the singer, the raw sound of the guitar and the regal appearance of the powerful Manuela Vargas brought tears to my eyes. Right then, I knew that I wanted and needed to express myself in this way. That is how flamenco caught my soul and I could not rest until I left for Spain to find more of it. I submerged myself in classes at the Amor de Dios studio, a true mecca of aspiring dancers. Each day, at the nearby cafés, I would see the most prestigious flamenco artists such as Antonio Gades, Paco de Lucia, Carlos Saura. I also recall two of my Spanish teachers and mentors: Maria Magdalena and Ciro – both of whom you can see in Carlos Saura’s movie, Carmen. Although I was invited to join a company earlier on, I chose to wait for a full year. It paid off: I got in with the well-respected Antonio del Castillo Ballet Español. With this company, I toured Italy, Spain and Portugal. A year later, I was invited to join the Tablao Arco de Cuchilleros. It was then I met a flamenco guitarist from Vancouver, Victor Kolstee. We fell in love, had two children and performed together with the company of María Velásquez and Paco Mundo, touring in Mallorca and Bangkok. Victor and I made a decision to settle down in his home town of Vancouver, to be close to his family and to raise our own. Upon arrival in 1989, we noticed very few flamenco aficionados, which was a difficult reality for both of us. Soon after, we founded our school, Centro Flamenco, and our company, Flamenco Rosario, and established the annual Vancouver Flamenco Festival. But it was only after 17 years of living in Vancouver that I finally felt at home – and the result is our next flamenco production, Los Cuatro Vientos (The Four Powers) [which premiered in November 2006 at the Norman Rothstein Theatre]. The starting point for my spiritual connection to Canada was in 1996 when Victor and I were invited to the Yukon to perform at the Dawson City Music Festival. Experiencing nature at its best, meeting a great mix of extraordinary Canadian people – including many First Nations – and sharing my dance, my heart was full of happiness and gratitude, and I felt a real sense of belonging. This led me to ask: “What does it mean to be Canadian?” All I have to do is walk down the street or enter one of my flamenco classes, where the students have a wide mix of ethnic backgrounds, to realize that Canada is a multicultural country.
Recently, I came across an aboriginal story, The Four Powers, about the four powers or directions, which each brings gifts to the people and contributes to the circle of life. Victor and I found a resemblance between these powers and the gifts that immigrants bring from all corners of the world to their new country, and we were inspired to use this story in Los Cuatro Vientos. In this show, we acknowledge the first people in Canada, and what better way to do that than to also reference the First Nations tale of The Raven and the Birth of Man? We thought of asking our friends and colleagues Barbara Bourget and Jay Hirabayashi to collaborate with us: in their butoh performances, so pure and primal, they are just like how we imagined the first humans to be. To deepen the cultural mix and provide input from another artistic mind, we also invited our friend Mariano Cruceta – an avant-garde flamenco artist from Madrid, Spain – to collaborate with us. Together, we are enjoying a creative process where traditional and contemporary flamenco, and butoh movement, successfully meet, in part thanks to the beautiful musical score composed and arranged by Victor and Carolina Plante. Also joining us will be dancer Carmen de Torres from Sevilla and six local Flamenco Rosario dancers. Not long ago, I returned from another visit to Andalucía, Spain, the region where flamenco was born from the Sephardic, Islamic, Christian and Gypsy traditions. But at this point in my career, I feel the need to create art based on contemporary views and my own Canadian culture. What better way of doing so than through flamenco? Like Canada, flamenco itself is the perfect example of cultures coming together. Dance Central November/December 2006 Rosario Ancer and Victor Kolstee are the founders of Centro Flamenco school, Flamenco Rosario company and the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival. Rosario’s autobiographical Mis Hermanas; Thicker than Water, My Sisters and I, an important showcase for Canadian flamenco artists, toured to Mexico in 2010 and will tour BC in 2013. Visit www.flamencorosario.org.
Drift-Walks: Acts of Poetic Resistance
By Julie Lebel
I think of dance as a much broader concept than what happens in the studio or on the stage. What most interests me is to find ways to define and share different possible dance experiences with others. I set up experiments in public spaces, projects like Mobile Clubbing (when a group of people each listening to their personal music device gathers suddenly in a public space to dance), Échelle humaine (human:scale, a multidisciplinary community art project based on psychogeography) and most recently Drift-Walks. During my residency at The Dance Centre, I developed the Drift-Walk project through writing at home and working out ideas in the studio. So far, the latter has involved rehearsals and an open showing that took place in the fall of 2007. I also spent a month of active blogging, sorting collected data and writing short essays. The project has evolved in many ways with the help of both artists and community participants that I have found here in Vancouver, and elsewhere in places like Smithers, British Columbia and Nantes, France. What is a Drift-Walk? A Drift-Walk can take place in a park or any quiet place outdoors. The activity can take between 45 minutes and three hours to complete, depending on the landscape. Drift-Walk booklets are given to participants at a meeting point; they include questions and spaces to write or draw. The questions aim to awaken physical awareness: by looking, touching and listening, our minds will make associations tied to physical sensations, something that I ask participants to investigate. I believe the first step in creative training is to widen our use of the perceptual senses through creative play. The idea is not to fill the entire booklet, but to choose those exercises that mean something to each participant at any particular point in their walk. I invite participants to arrive, and then to begin exploring the environment by simply taking the time to settle in the space before getting on with any particular task. I suggest stopping and resting in order to write or draw something, to identify where their attention is drawn to and to be aware of the use of space. These “how to” suggestions are stated in the first pages of the booklet. During group Drift-Walks that I have led, I have noticed that participants creatively choose what they want to look at and hear by following not only external points of interests but also their own internal thread of associations. The process is like composing, and if there was a way to record and re-play perceptual memories we could revisit these walks like we listen to music. As a choreographer, when I watch participants in a Drift-Walk I am fascinated by how their bodies respond. to their choices. Even from far away I can see the tension or release when attention is suddenly focused on a detail or when their mind wanders while looking at something vast like the sky. Their micro-gestures are the reflection of a “thinking body,” a type of physicality I am interested in when I work with professional dancers. Much as dance artists can practice useful performance skills like “being seen” on the bus or in a park, the practice of “how to arrive” can be done just about anywhere. These ideas are drawn from my love of improvisation and are rooted in the art of American improvisers Lisa Nelson, Nancy Stark Smith, Nina Martin and others. Walking as a creative activity is also explored in other fields: sound, visual art, performance art and writing. In Vancouver, Hildegard Westerkamp and local collaborators have developed a well-attended Soundwalk activity through Vancouver New Music. Sharing my Dance When I dance, I do specific tasks like tracking my use of space or relating rhythmically to a texture or an image. These tasks are also called scores and are not necessarily complex movements. In 14
other words, you don’t need to be a trained dancer to do them. The Drift-Walk activity is a format invented so that lay people can access these exercises. But like any new experience, inventing just the format is not always sufficient. With the help of other artists, I have found outreach strategies, such as the booklet, which is now published on my website as a PDF to download and print at home. Licensed under Creative Commons, anyone can copy and distribute the booklet freely, as long as they cite my name, don’t change it and don’t charge others for it. Participants are invited to mail me the booklet once it is complete. I do not take authorship for inventing the tasks or scores, as they have been around for a good while in the dance community. However, I’ve developed some of the wording, the structure and the booklet itself – something I would like to protect. The Drift-Walks have evolved greatly since they began. I first invented the Drift-Walk booklet and activity as a sourcing tool for Field Notes, a solo created in Sept-Îles, Québec for and by my company, Ensemble Indépendant. In 2007, while doing the walks with the community in SeptÎles, and also later in Vancouver and during the St. John’s New Dance festival in Newfoundland, I noticed participants showing a sense of connection with their physicality, and an awareness and conscious use of space and time. I realized there was more to this activity than provoking a strong sense of “being here” and connecting to sensations; now I consider these walks like miniature performances, even when they involve something as simple as sitting in one place for a long period of time. Drift-Walks have become more than just a sourcing tool or research activity – though I now have a nice collection of booklets filled out by participants – and are an autonomous dance activity all their own. A turning point for me was my participation in the Critical Response Process led by Laura Hicks at the Memelab creative space in Vancouver. The Critical Response Process provides a structure to support public feedback on artistic projects, and I was able to ask for feedback on what might be areas of discomfort for potential participants in my Drift-Walk project. The three main responses were: “What’s in it for me? Am I going to have to dance? I am not creative enough, I will feel judged.” These fears could prevent many people from participating. To remedy the situation, the Drift-Walks are now described as a workshop where people can gain skills and practice their creativity. I also state clearly on my blog that participants are not asked to dance. Finally, sharing the booklet with me is no longer mandatory. People don’t have to fear being judged. What I really like about Drift-Walks is that this type of community art allows me to practice my art in other contexts, and at lower costs! I also consider both Mobile Clubbing and Drift-Walking acts of poetic resistance; through these activities, participants are able to practice their creativity, get in touch with what dance is and cultivate a taste for new experiences. Dance Central May/June 2008 Julie Lebel is a dance artist living in Vancouver. Julie proposes movement activities to the community, including performances and collaborative research projects. She has been artist-in-residence with The Dance Centre, where she furthered her research on the Drift-Walk project. Visit http://julielebeldanceprojects.wordpress.com.
Beer and Ninja Turtles: A Memoir
By Josh Martin
The 605 Collective, aka “605,” began in Fall 2006 with Lisa Gelley, Shay Kuebler, Sasha Kozak, Maiko Miyauchi and I often coming together to jam and play around in a home-made studio, located at #605 at the ARC on Commercial Drive. Quite simply, we’re friends who, in various combinations, join efforts to make dance. Since choosing this path, it’s been a whirlwind of planning and writing, trying to maintain and afford this in-studio time together so we could keep working on all the great things that seem to come out of it. Now that we’re starting to find ways of doing this, and an occasional performance outlet, the whirlwind continues to grow along with our appetites. While reading Kaija Pepper’s book, The Man Next Door Dances: The Art of Peter Bingham, two things became clear. First, that the contemporary dance scene in the early 80s was more hip and cool than I could ever hope to be. And second, there’s no big rush. Reading about the collective beginnings of EDAM, founded with a group of people whose names now seem so large, it becomes obvious we shouldn’t prepare for each next step until we’ve taken the one before it. There’s a long road ahead for our young collective, and as situations change and shift, there’s much to be done … but not all at once. 605 is currently in creation for a new work to premiere at the 2009 Dancing on the Edge Festival, after an excerpt showing at On the Boards’ Northwest New Works Festival in Seattle. Our final creative process will take place at Scotiabank Dance Centre, through the continuing support of the Artist-in-Residence program. This Dance Centre program has served as a large stool that we could climb onto, to shout at passers-by and grab their attention before plunging into our first large project. We’ve learned a lot along the way, but May and June are sure to be challenging months for 605 as we attempt to piece all the elements together. Earlier this year, we were fortunate to start our creation in Montréal with what I’ll call a “keg tapping” (I enjoy beer references), where we sort of just showed up and poured out all of the ideas and movement that had been filling up over the last year. We needed to empty out. We spilt our guts all over the floor and then spent hours sifting through for any signs of life. Just like a keg, we had to go through a lot of that useless foam before getting to “the good stuff” but we found some eventually. Having arrived with such a detailed game plan of what we wanted to do (and how to do it), it took a few days before we were able to let go of the many pre-planned ideas in our notebooks. But, after a couple long talks (over beer) and some settling in, it became easier to just step back and patiently let things happen on their own. After all, you can’t rush pouring the perfect pint. We’re so thankful for the generosity of Usine-C, which provided us with this residency (and Dana Gingras, who found us a wonderful place to rest our heads). It was difficult to make room for new 16
discoveries without first putting many of our older thoughts to rest. Now that we’ve done that, I feel like we’re ready to leap into our final process, more open to the idea of a continuously evolving creation. While our projects have slightly shifted over the years to fit the vision of a rapidly maturing group of young artists, our roles and the working relationships have remained very similar to day one. For instance, Shay tends to focus on the energy and look of movement. Lisa makes sure her two cents are heard about intention and focus, and the spatial relationship of the bodies on stage. For me, it’s important whether certain ideas or images actually belong at a specific time and place for the flow and structure of the piece. When a creation is “ours” as opposed to “mine” or “his/hers,” I feel there is a different openness and freedom of speech for everyone in-studio, especially in terms of evaluation and critique mid-process. This is especially important when we’re all inside the work without a constant outside eye. We each need to feel properly represented in what we’re doing. A “collective” can describe many different situations, but all of them must involve compromise, which is a difficult skill to master. For 605, it has simply meant extreme trust, commitment and beyond generous contributions to compile a larger set of tools to work with. The results of pooling our strengths and resources, as athletes, artists or administrators, have far outweighed any compromise to date. The single voice created by this collaboration has become very different than our own as individuals, and this excites us. Of course, a collective must transform over time to meet the needs of its growing artists and I’m sure many experienced dancers have been around long enough to witness a few unravel. But even if we end up being thrown in different directions in the future, what an incredible learning environment 605 has been, propelling us forward through constant dialogue with each other into a greater sense of clarity in our own personal practice. We all remain on individual journeys, branching out into new territory, and everyone is supportive of each other’s personal opportunities. It’s been quite evident that whenever one of us finishes a contract dancing for another choreographer or outside project, we come back to the group with that much more to offer. We’ve been sharing our personal training and experience with each other for years now. We often riff off of one another, adding new layers and details to someone’s movement or idea to push deeper into the work. This constant exchange has allowed each of us to refine our own personal tastes while contributing to the overall direction of the collective. We also play a lot. Making big, fast and highly physical dance has remained one of the most important goals for 605, no matter what genre it ends up being attributed to. And when you have the challenge of keeping up to a “ninja turtle” like Shay, it stays pretty fun and exciting. Amber Funk Barton has been an amazing sounding board, both in and outside of the studio. As we hit various roadblocks, we’ve found incredible support from many people in this community, who have jumped to their feet in order to find solutions and answer our endless questions. But we realize there’s something to be said about waiting for certain opportunities and experiences to find you when it’s the right time, as opposed to chasing after them with blind ambition. Kaija’s book offers our group a better sense of time and perspective; it’s easy to forget that each one of the artists we look up to has a long history that led them to this point, and even now, they’re still plugging away at it all. And while 605 has this massive list of things we want to accomplish, “staying present” and treasuring our time working together remains at the top of that list. And that’s the simple and cheesy truth about 605 … we all just have a big fat crush on each other. There. I said it. Dance Central May/June 2009 Josh Martin is a diversely trained dance artist based out of Vancouver, primarily working as co-artistic director of The 605 Collective, as well as a performer for Wen Wei Dance. Off the stage, Josh serves as vice-chair of the Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists – BC Chapter. Visit www.605collective.com.
My Twisted Process
By Martha Carter
Vertebrae are layers of self-reflection if you can’t listen to your body and if you are not aware of your body then you’re not aware of your life or your self ... you aren’t listening to your life listening is a virtue From Martha’s diary The Beginning When I started to create Twisted [which premiered at Scotiabank Dance Centre in April 2009], it was a dare to myself to actually dance again. I knew if I was going to make a piece about my scoliosis story, then I would have to get off my director’s ass and perform it myself. I tried to avoid this by considering writing a book or making a movie, but both those options would have been the ultimate procrastination and the exact opposite process demanded by the subject. This physical laziness was not only due to being completely out of shape, but mostly out of fear. After years of surgeries and rehabilitation, I had lost my body confidence and completely lost track of my own physical dance practice. I was afraid of either hurting myself or looking bad, or both. I just wasn’t sure that I could do it. Almost against my will, I craved movement. I dreamt of myself dancing ... spinning, flipping and doing fabulous ballet and breakdance moves. I felt like something deep in my cells was telling me that the only way for me to write and tell the story was by reconnecting with my own movement. Rather than directing with images and ideas only, I instinctively felt this was a perfect time to direct myself and the dancers physically again ... to trust my own movement as a source of expression. But how to even start? It was a fight with myself ... perhaps part of my desire to dance is the need for an impossible goal? unrealistic life ... a dream ... a fantasy September 5, 2006 Kindergarten I considered doing longer and harder sessions at the gym, so boring. I looked at schedules for technique class, but that felt intimidating. Pilates? Yoga? I tried a bit of everything, but no matter what I chose, it felt like a distraction from actually dancing. I just had to do it. So I began going into the studio alone. The first few times, I started with some yoga exercises and then took a nap. This usually took up the whole rehearsal. Lee Su-Feh as my dramaturge assured me this was normal, whatever normal is. Feelings of non-accomplishment followed afterwards, creating a lot of judgement within me but this did not stop me from “wasting” time. It made me think of kindergarten where we had nap time every afternoon, so I took that image further by setting up the studio with different areas for different activities. The yoga/nap area was the central focus, with an office area for my computer and phone on one side, a writing station with pens and paper on the other, a video camera that could move around on a tripod, a snack corner by the wall and a dress-up box beside that. But I still had trouble getting to the business of dancing. Pain is part of the process January 2007
Hot and Bothered Now the studio took longer and longer to set up, but I always managed to write a few emails, scribble down ideas and doodle on the paper before doing some yoga exercises and taking my nap. That became my new practice. Things got better when Su-Feh came into the studio to direct me through some physical and theatrical exercises that were always challenging and provocative (and usually made me very hot and bothered!). Her ability to tap into the moment inspired me to find it too. Slowly I noticed that even though I didn’t feel like I was doing very much, I was inspired with a multitude of ideas and plans about what I wanted to do. I started selecting music tracks, and my notebooks started to fill up with diary entries and choreographic scribbles. I worked my mind and body to become more and more physical, but when the other dancers were in the studio with me, I would still end up sitting down and watching from my traditional director’s role. This went on for a few months until I went to Banff for a self-directed residency where I had a big, gorgeous studio for seven days, 24 hours per day – BY MYSELF. TERRIFYING. Deep sadness tremendous desire February 4, 2007 Dining Room vs Studio The first day at Banff, I tried to settle in by setting up my “kindergarten class,” but the studio was so large I suddenly felt very lonely and very lost. I made a list of all the things I could work on, and then immediately left for lunch ... of course. For anyone who has been to Banff, you will understand that meal times are not to be taken lightly. Not only is the gourmet buffet delicious, but it is located in the most amazing room with a stunning 360-degree view of the mountain range. I found the dining room to be a much more hospitable place that my cavernous studio in the music building, so this did not bode well for my evolving, but still challenged practice. Is it better to think of myself as disappointed that I don’t have the guts to do it? OR to do it against all odds even if it causes disappointment? OR like just face it and don’t set myself up for disappointment? February 16, 2007 Lonely and Confused in Banff After a few days of this confused, well-fed procrastination, I was not having any fun ... in fact I was lonely and miserable. I had been handed this fantastic opportunity to develop my work in residency, but still did not know how to work.
This made me feel even more depressed, so I just gave up and spent one afternoon feeling sorry for myself – which actually felt really good. Thanks to that, everything changed. I started to let myself go into the studio day and night and basically do whatever I felt like, in whatever order I wanted. I didn’t dance very much that week, but I came out feeling like I accomplished something by giving myself permission to be confused. I made every act – confused and otherwise – part of my creative process, and saw it all in a positive light by seeing myself jumping over what seemed to be endless hurdles in creating this new work. Don’t know the difference between having and not having a scoliosis wishing things were different but not wanting to change resisting, afraid of letting go The body is the messenger March 2008 Slowly but Surely Fast forward one year. I slowly start to observe some key things that seem to explain my difficulty in settling into a disciplined process. The more time I spend with myself and my story, the more it feels like I am peeling back the layers of an onion so that the memories and sensations can pour in. At some point, it occurs to me that my twisted process is inextricably linked with my twisted spine. I have spent so many years fearful and distracted, denying myself the permission to spend time on my physical process. This is not going to be an easy habit to break. I know now that if I am really going to go deep into my own body, then I have to give myself lots of time and cut myself lots of slack. And slowly but surely, I have become addicted to going to the studio by myself. I still procrastinate, but I often go without any of my kindergarten accessories. The studio has become a sacred place for me and the more I go into the work physically, the more everything in my life clarifies. And now with new-found wisdom, awareness and consciousness, after all these years I am finally listening to my body ... listening to my desire … reaching for what I love ... punctuated with lots of naps. “Not determination, curiosity. Follow bliss to find the universal story.” Lee Su-Feh Dance Central March/April 2009 Martha Carter is a director-choreographer-performer-teacher of dance, media and music works, primarily with her Vancouver company mmHoP. An MFA dance graduate, she is co-founder of Montréal’s Studio 303, sits on the board of the Canada Dance Festival and recently initiated the TWiSTED OUTREACH PROJECT for Backcare and Scoliosis. Visit www.martamartahop.com.
The Story of Compaigni V’ni Dansi By Yvonne Chartrand
I am a seventh generation Métis; my ancestors are from St. Laurent, Manitoba, one of the largest Métis communities in Canada. My great, great, great, great grandfather Peter Pangman was one of the owners of the XYZ fur trading company. My great, great, great grandfather Pierre Bostonais Pangman was a buffalo hunter and a chief. My great, great grandfather Pierre Chartrand, husband of Marie Angelique Pangman, freighted with barges and was a fur trader. His father, Paul Joseph Chartrand, was a voyageur from Québec who married a Cree woman and with eight of their children settled in St. Laurent. My great grandfather Jean-Baptiste Chartrand was a hunter, trapper, fisherman, farmer and storekeeper who could speak, read and write at least four languages. He liked to eat skunk – a delicacy among native people – although his wife Clarisse Chartrand (née Larence) never let him skin them in the house! Her father, Norbert Larence, was a schoolteacher and hunter who sat on the committee of the provisional government with Louis Riel. My grandfather, Aime Chartrand, was a carpenter, professional barber, hunter and trapper who owned a dogsled team, a couple of teams of horses and a racehorse. He built a house in St. Laurent for his parents. My father, who now lives there, grew up in a large family of 12. He was a telegraph operator, station agent, rail traffic controller and court worker and, in his retirement, became a long-haul truck driver, Métis historian and tour guide. The women were instrumental in looking after the family and the home, which included cooking, snaring, moccasin making, bannock baking, wood chopping, garden tending, berry picking, pemmican making, hide cleaning, midwifery, medicine making and more! They all spoke the Red River Michif – French with a Cree intonation; thus the Michif name of my group, Compaigni V’ni Dansi, which means “come and dance.” My family travelled throughout Manitoba and Saskatchewan, eventually settling in Winnipeg, where I began dancing our Métis dances with a group called the Gabriel Dumont Dancers. Louis Riel’s famous quote, “My people will sleep for one hundred years and when they awaken it will be the artists who bring the spirit back to the people,” rings true for me. My awakening began in 1985, with my journey into Fine Arts at the University of Manitoba and the discovery of contemporary and Métis dance. This all took place in the centennial year of the Northwest Resistance and the death of Louis Riel by hanging after an unjust court hearing. It was after graduating from the Main Dance training program in Vancouver in 2000 that I formed Compaigni V’ni Dansi, a contemporary dance company which includes a traditional group called the Louis Riel Métis Dancers. Most of my traditional knowledge comes from prominent Métis elders such as Maria Campbell, Kathleen Steinhauer, Jeanne Pelletier, John Arcand, Gilbert Anderson and my father, Jules Chartrand. Some elders have told me it is the responsibility of the women to pass on the dances and to live in both the traditional and contemporary worlds. I choreographed my first solo to honour the Métis women; it was based on the life of Louis Riel’s wife and called Marguerite. Then I trained with Margo Kane’s Full Circle Ensemble for three years, sourcing stories from my own indigenous perspective. Working with other indigenous artists, I gained real collaborative skills, and my first full production about Louis Riel, the hero of the Métis, was a collaboration called A Poet and Prophet. Butoh master Yukio Waguri co-choreographed the work with Ania Storoszczuk (who was then an instructor with my company) and myself. I remember the strong emotional quality of Waguri’s work, and was inspired by the correlation between Japanese and Native cultures. In preparation for our second major production, Gabriel’s Crossing, I researched the events leading up to the Northwest Resistance in Saskatchewan alongside one of my mentors, Maria Campbell. Later I asked Maria to write a script that would allow non-Native people to understand 21
the story told from our perspective. Together we created a dance-theatre piece that wove the three stories together for The Crossing, a show that toured to Saskatoon, performed to sold-out audiences and inspired the First Annual Louis Riel Day Celebrations. Maria then asked me to work with her and the National Batoche Historical Site for two years. We were given an award for Creative Excellence from Saskatchewan Tourism. In 2009, I interviewed six Métis elders to explore the stories from my ancestral homeland, and called the show Stories from St. Laurent. This solo work used new media and was co-created and directed by Marie Clements, with mentoring by Saskatchewan-based choreographer Robin Poitras. The Métis (Michif is what the people call themselves) are of mixed European and First Nations ancestry. The European ancestry includes French, Scottish, Irish, English and Scandinavian. Some of the First Nations ancestry includes Cree (Nehiyaw), Ojibway (Anishenabe), Salteau, Dene and Blackfoot. The blending of these nations creates the Michif identity with its unique culture, languages, music (mostly fiddle) and dances (including jigs, reels, waltzes, polkas and square dances). The most popular dance and song, The Red River Jig, also known as the national dance of the Métis, is performed across Canada, the United States and the Northwest Territories. No one knows for sure its exact origins but many say the music comes from the French song, La Grande Gigue Simple. The fiddle was one of the smallest musical instruments, and could be conveniently packed on the canoes. The First Nations and Métis began practicing what they heard by ear, and since they couldn’t read music the songs began to change; an extra note was added here and there. The Irish, Scottish and English music is on a reliable 4/4 beat, unlike Métis music, which is known as “crooked music” because each fiddler adds their own individual and unique extra beats. The Red River Jig is either a solo dance or duet, performed for fun but often as a challenge or in competitions to see who can do the fanciest or the most steps. There are two parts to the music: a high part, which is a consistent double jig step, and then a low part, which are the changes or fancy steps. In a competition the second-place winner can challenge the first-place winner. I have seen two dancers dance up to 45 changes or fancy steps. People used to dance up to 65 to 100 fancy steps, and I have a goal to bring these numbers back. We have many traditional group dances, some of which are patterned from the European folk dances. The Métis also created their own square dances and always jig throughout. Métis square dances – sometimes called Métis Reels – have three different styles. All three must be danced in a competition: the first change is a slower dance with a basic jig step; the second change is a little faster with a more complicated jig step; and the third change or breakdown is the fastest song with the double jig step. Most summers I travel to Métis festivals like the Canadian Red River Jigging Championships in Saskatchewan, where I often instruct and judge. I also have a chance to share Métis culture in the annual Louis Riel Day Celebrations in Vancouver produced by my company. The dances are more than just historical: when my dancers and I present them on stage, they come alive. They’re fun for us to do and for the audience, too. I know this because more than once we’ve been joined on stage by audience members who couldn’t resist the call of the fiddle and the liveliness of the steps. Dance Central March/April 2011 Yvonne Chartrand is a contemporary choreographer, dancer and national award-winning master Métis jigger and instructor. Compaigni V’ni Dansi’s Cooking it Up Métis premieres in 2012. Yvonne received the 2011 Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton award for dance which recognizes outstanding mid-career artists. Visit www.vnidansi.ca.
An A to Z of Writers … Mary-Louise Albert • Rosario Ancer • Christopher Armstrong • Lorraine Aston • Amber Funk Barton • Ashley Battistelli • Josh Beamish • Serge Bennathan • Jennifer Bishop • Debbie Blair • Barbara Bourget • Fran Brafman • Amy Bowring • Mara Branscombe • Delia Brett • Raqib Brian Burke • Joy Camden • Robyn Campbell • Martha Carter • Justine Chambers • Jennifer Chan • Eury Chang • Yvonne Chartrand • Byron Chief-Moon • Peter Chin • Barbara Clausen • Sara Coffin • Jacci Collins • Daniel Conrad • Anne Cooper • Michael Crabb • Carolyn Deby • Minke de Vos • Susana Domingues • Andrea Downie • Druboy • Deborah Dunn • Douglas Durand • Dory Dynna • Jenn Edwards • Susan Elliott • Catherine Fallis • Caroline Farquhar • Emily Fedoruk • Gustavo Ferman • Anusha Fernando • Rose Finlay • Cornelius Fischer-Credo • Guadalupe Font • Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg • Claire French • Judith Garay • Rachel Goodman • Rayann Gordon • Jai Govinda • jamie griffiths • Katy Harris-McLeod • Jeff Harrison • Day Helesic • Laura Hicks • Jay Hirabayashi • Yayoi Hirano • Sjahari Hollands • Christopher House • Tannis Hugill • Karen Jamieson • Rachel Johndrow • Jessica Jone • Cheryl Kay • Mary Kelly • Anna Kemble • Rob Kitsos • D-Anne Kuby Trépanier • Karen Kurnaedy • Aline LaFlamme • Colleen Lanki • Joe Laughlin • Julie Lebel • Catherine Lee • Su-Feh Lee • Natalie LeFebvre Gnam • Caroline Liffmann • Peter Lipskis • Chen Lizra • Gail Lotenberg • David Y.H. Lui • Tanya Marquardt • Josh Martin • Sylvie Mazerolle • Kevin McKeown • Jennifer McLeish-Lewis • Darcy McMurray • Cynthia Miller • Emily Molnar • Sandy Moreno • Philippa Myler • Yvette Nolan • Marilee Nugent • Jean Orr • Kaija Pepper • Crystal Pite • Leah Rae • Donna Redlick • Kathryn Ricketts • Ian Robertson • Jeanne Robinson • Nicola Roper • Joyce Rosario • Roxanne Rusin • Phyllis Schwartz • Rajni Shah • Nancy Shaw • Odette Slater • Grant Strate • Julia Taffe • Alvin Tolentino • Janet Walker • Vincent Walker • Helen Walkley • Savannah Walling • Brian Webb • Sharon Wehner • Stephen White • Txi Whizz • Imogen Whyte • Leland Windreich • Kirsten Wiren • Max Wyman • Naria Yaraii • Mirna Zagar …who contributed stories for Dance Central between 2001–2011
Afterword By Eury Chang Ten Seasons, Ten Stories: Dance Central 2001-2011 contains articles quite different in tone but consistent in revealing the range of creative practices and personalities found here in Vancouver, British Columbia. The writing represents the city’s cultural and artistic diversity, offering thoughtful, self-reflective and honest first-person reports that cover themes ranging from identity and cultural heritage, to the body as a reservoir of thought and emotion, to the way personal experience can be transformed into movement expression or choreographed dance. A theme that runs through all the articles, whether overtly or subtly, is that of collaboration: each writer acknowledges a fellow dancer, a mentor, a peer group, other artistic disciplines or outside sources of inspiration. These articles affirm dance as a living art form that constantly finds itself in relationship to someone or something. While an active writing practice is sometimes positioned as separate from the choreographic process, in this booklet the role of dancer and writer becomes conflated. It’s for this reason that I believe the writing here holds a special place in the overall field of dance discourse, simply because it comes from dance artists themselves, whose studio practice and embodied knowledge is not always shared so directly with the general public. The writing in these pages comes from particular artists working in a particular time and place. The range of practices is testament to the way that dance lends itself to different contexts, and to how it reaches and serves audiences and participants of all backgrounds. I am reminded that knowledge is found in many places: in books, social relations, onstage, and of course, deeply embedded in the flesh. Eury Chang has worked in Vancouver as a stage choreographer, theatre director and producer. He is resident dramaturge for The Launch Pad, Dramaturgy Program for New Performance (an incubator for the development of contemporary dance and theatre), editor of Ricepaper magazine and artistic director of Creative Dominion Society: www.creativedominion.ca.
Photos: page 3 Aeriosa/Julia Taffe by Tim Matheson; page 5 Bull in a China Shop/David Bloom, Anne Cooper and William Moysey by Chris Randle; page 7 Joe Laughlin’s The Body Remembers/Amber Funk Barton and Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg by Chris Randle; page 10 Susana Dominguez and Gabriel Monty by Donna Hagerman; page 12 Flamenco Rosario by David Cooper; page 16 The 605 Collective/Josh Martin and Lisa Gelley by Wendy D; page 19 Martha Carter’s Twisted/Jennifer McLeish Lewis, Alisoun Payne, Katy Harris-McLeod and Jennifer Oleksiuk by Steven Lemay; page 23 Compaigni V’ni Dansi/Taionnaih Simper, Madelaine McCallum, Steven Crowell, Yvonne Chartrand, M.Pyress Flame and Michael Riel by Chris Randle. 24
Scotiabank Dance Centre Level 6, 677 Davie Street Vancouver BC V6B 2G6 T 604.606.6400 F 604.606.6401 firstname.lastname@example.org
ÂŠ 2012 The Dance Centre and the authors The VDC Dance Centre Society (The Dance Centre) is a non-proďŹ t organization and a registered charity.
Published on May 8, 2012
A collection of articles about the art of dance by Vancouver dance artists, written for The Dance Centre's member publication Dance Central...