Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Embrace Adventure with Shannon Litzenberger: Who Says Bankers Can't Dance?

In the weeks leading up to Guelph Dance Festival 2014, some of the Festival artists will share their vision with us here on the blog. These intimate, behind-the-scenes looks will bring us closer to the artistry, process, and experience of dance. We encourage you to not just read these amazing stories, but to ask questions and engage in conversation about dance in our comments section below. Embrace adventure with us in 2014!

Choreographer Shannon Litzenberger provides an account of her artistic process for her exciting large-cast piece. Shannon Litzenberger Contemporary Dance performs at On the Stage B on Saturday, May 31 at 8pm in the Co-operator's Hall at River Run Centre. Tickets are available now through the Box Office!

For this year's Festival, we are inviting the community to Embrace Adventure with us! One way is through Shannon Litzenberger's piece, which you will hear about below, and another way is through Across Oceans piece, which is still open for public sign-up! If these bankers inspire you, join the fun here!

Royal Bank of Canada performers in Everyday Marvels. Photo by Kevin Konnyu.

Shannon: A group of enthusiastic Royal Bank of Canada employees will be showing off their moves at River Run Centre this May as part of the upcoming Guelph Dance Festival. Together with professional Toronto-based contemporary dancers, they will perform as part of my large-scale episodic dance production, Everyday Marvels. Developed at the intersection of professional and community-based dance creation, Everyday Marvels is based on a volume of poetry authored by Governor General Award winning poet Lorna Crozier called The Book of Marvels: A compendium of everyday things. The quotidian objects interpreted in Crozier’s poems, such as ‘radiator’, ‘chair’, ‘flashlight’, and ‘sky’, are brought to life by a group of eight contemporary choreographers including Robert Abubo, Julia Aplin, Susie Burpee, Valerie Calam, Peter Chin, Marie-Josée Chartier, Dan Wild and myself. 

Named one of the top things to see at Toronto’s 2013 Nuit Blanche by Toronto Life and the Globe and Mail, Everyday Marvels attracted nearly 10,000 spectators to the Gardiner Museum from dusk ‘til dawn last October. Nuit Blanchers stood in line for over an hour to take in the performances, and the house was still at capacity at 6:30am when the final poem was read. Maybe it was the cozy indoor venue that attracted the crowd, or the great advance press…but maybe it was just sheer curiosity! Can bankers really dance?

My co-directors Susie Burpee, Marie-Josée Chartier and I had the pleasure of working with this wonderful group of RBC employees over a period of six months leading up to the Everyday Marvels premiere. We rehearsed with them on Monday nights at one of the RBC towers downtown so it was convenient for them to participate. Instead of teaching them steps and routines, we engaged them in a creative process that helped them get out of their heads and into their bodies. We practiced moving together as an ensemble, as well as focusing and responding to non-verbal cues.

As part of our creation process, we attempted to capture the experience of the bankers along the way. Take a look:

Everyday Marvels @ Nuit Blanche from Shannon Litzenberger on Vimeo.

As the bankers can attest, participating in dance creation offers considerable benefit beyond the rehearsal hall. Dance, at its most complex is a sophisticated process of creating meaning through the arrangement of bodies in time and space. But at its most elemental, dance is about collaboration and community. I asked the RBC performers what they took away from the experience, what surprised them, what challenged them, and what was most memorable. Here’s what they said:

“I was surprised by the hidden talent we had. Once I saw the complete pieces, I understood that amateurs can do amazing things under the guidance of great choreographers. I never saw dancing the way I see it now. I learned that dance is more than choreography.” – Inez Fernandez

“I am inspired and encouraged to do more and to be part of a group.” –Nisha Rana

“I was surprised to see the fun side of my colleagues. And it surprised me even more to run into them again in suits at meetings.” – Jessy Zhao

“It was a powerful, moving night for me. The energy in the room was so satisfying and it felt great to be a part of something so creative and expansive.” – Dalreen Fobler

“It wasn’t like jumping from a bridge, but there is some free fall to this unexpected journey that makes everyone smile, brings some joy, and a feeling of unrestrained freedom.” – Mark Bilous

“None of us are professionals, but we all have dance inside of us.” – Barbara Hodder

“Looking back at the experience, it was one of the most rewarding and fulfilling moments in my life. I feel very grateful to have been a part of this process and wish to continue supporting the arts.” – David Lim

In short, yes, bankers CAN dance! But don’t take my word for it. Come and see them for yourselves on May 31st at River Run Centre as they take the stage with Lorna Crozier and an ensemble of top Toronto dance artists during the not-to-be-missed Guelph Dance Festival.   

Shannon Litzenberger is Toronto-based dancer, choreographer, writer, director, and arts advocate. Over her decade-long career, she has worked with some of Canada’s leading choreographers including David Earle, DA Hoskins, Marie-Josée Chartier, Susie Burpee, Heidi Strauss, Darryl Tracy, Meagan O’Shea, Michael Greyeyes, and David Pressault. Since 2009, she has been creating and producing dynamic multi-disciplinary performance works through the creative umbrella of her company Shannon Litzenberger Contemporary Dance. Her choreography has been presented in collaboration with DanceWorks, JD Dance, Anne Portnuff Theatre, The Registry Theatre, The Toronto Fringe Festival, Gardiner Museum, and Dance: Made in Canada, among others. Shannon was the 2012 recipient of the Jack McAllister Award for accomplishment in dance. www.shannonlitzenberger.com

Monday, April 14, 2014

Embrace Adventure with Julia Aplin: BLiP

In the weeks leading up to Guelph Dance Festival 2014, some of the Festival artists will share their vision with us here on the blog. These intimate, behind-the-scenes looks will bring us closer to the artistry, process, and experience of dance. We encourage you to not just read these amazing stories, but to ask questions and engage in conversation about dance in our comments section below. Embrace adventure with us in 2014!

Julia Aplin has choreographed a collaborative piece between Perpetual Motion Youth Company, Swansea School of Dance, and YMI Dancing. She shares with us some journal entries about the piece, which will be performed at Youth Moves, Sunday June 1 at 4pm. Tickets are available through the River Run Centre Box Office.

JuliaBLiP is an interconnected dance work that brings together three dance companies in an exciting new collaboration. BLiP is about creating connections, appreciating differences and understanding how all living things need each other. The work is choreographed to allow each company to shine and to create moments of unity between the groups.

"Blip" is "something that is small that does not last a long time". In the big picture our Universe, life as we know it has not been around for very long and individual lives are a mere blip. Yet, we each are a beautiful, essential part of the whole picture. This piece celebrates the profound importance of each blip of life in our world.
Some early sketches from Julia's BLiP workbook.
Entry 2: Went into an amazing fabric store today. I had to focus myself to get only the black , 4-way stretch. Enough to make 25 balaclavas. 25 BALACLAVAS! Now, to me that seems like an unusual request but the sales lady didn’t bat an eye when I showed her the hooded sample and I asked how many thousands of yards I would need.

Entry 3: Here’s my main problem right now…keeping track of exits and entrances! If you leave stage right and your next entrance is stage left it is a problem. I have to make sure every dancer’s exit is in the correct direction, so that she can enter from the right place for the next section. Sounds simple, right? but with 25 dancers from 3 different companies, it’s a mind bender.

Entry 4: My house is full of tiny bits of coloured foam. Why? I’ve been cutting up kitchen sponges. Why? To make mushrooms. Why? Because mushrooms are an important part of the ecological system.

Entry 5: Had a big rehearsal day for BLiP today! Started at Pia Bouman’s YMI Youth Company at 9 a.m. Then, dashed to Cambridge to rehearse with Dianne Long’s Perpetual Motion dance company. On Wednesday, I’ll be rehearsing with Michelle de Browers’ Swansea dancers. All of these dancers are impressing me with their commitment and energy. Wahoooo! Can’t wait for them to meet each other and share in their awesomeness.

Entry 6: Had a great rehearsal with the Swansea dancers today. I came to the studio with, what I thought, was a big question; Do we want a propeller or a leaf? In the end, there really was no question as the leaf won hands down. In fact, the dancers’ excitement over the leaf made the propeller seem kind of sad by comparison.

Entry 7: We had our first full run-through of the YMI Dancing sections today. The dancers are really going for it, settling into their roles and bringing lots of creative energy to the movement. Our morning costume making session was also very rewarding. The dancers came up with fabulous ideas of what species to put on their heads. For example…the BUTTERFLISH!

YMI Dancers designing their costumes. Emilie Claus, Amelia Brown, Ella Corkum, Sarah Andrew-Gee, Cate Billinton, Alexia Christie.
Dhara Sheldrick, Stella Horvath and Jenny Aplin modeling some of the designs at Swansea.
Entry 8: I am trying to get the opening section straight in my head. All three companies are in this section, and I am still having fear of traffic jams. That is why I am up at midnight going over the sketches and doing imaginary, preventative traffic control. Here’s some of the thoughts in my head; If the Spikey ball enters upstage right, then the connected animals can enter downstage left, ok… then the tumble weed crosses from upstage left, yes…! Repeat at least one hundred times until you either A) lose your mind or B) feel confident that it will work.

Some diagrams from Julia's BLiP workbook.

Entry 9: The daxophone! The first time I heard it I wasn’t sure I heard it right. Hans Reichel was a genius. Did you ever put your wooden ruler on the edge of a desk to make that bwangy sound? Hans Reichel made a collection of odd looking wooden sticks to make that sound even better!!! Hans Reichel made an artform out of that sound! He used his daxophones to make the album “Lower Lurum” to which my boyfriend (also a musical genius, I must say) introduced me and right away I knew it had to be used for BLiP. When I played it for the dancers they looked puzzled, like maybe they thought I might be joking. Maybe a little crazy. Hans Reichel and the daxophone! 
Hans Reichel's Lower Lurum.
Julia Aplin is a Toronto based artist. Her choreography has been presented across Canada and in Europe. She has created work for Dancemakers, Toco Loca, Urban Vessel, and princess productions, among others. Julia’s career has taken her across artistic boundaries. Julia was a performer with Dancermakers under Artistic Director Serge Bennathan for 15 seasons. Julia teaches dance and movement to a wide range of communities.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Embrace Adventure with Human Playground: The Road Trip of Our Lives

In the weeks leading up to Guelph Dance Festival 2014, some of the Festival artists will share their vision with us here on the blog. These intimate, behind-the-scenes looks will bring us closer to the artistry, process, and experience of dance. We encourage you to not just read these amazing stories, but to ask questions and engage in conversation about dance in our comments section below. Embrace adventure with us in 2014!

The Auto-Fiction team at Human Playground tells us their story here. Human Playground performs Auto-Fiction at In the Park on Thursday May 29 at 7pm, Saturday May 31 at noon, and Sunday June 1 at noon, in Exhibition Park. Suggested donation $15, or pay-what-you-can. Human Playground is also featured in this year's Festival poster and banner.

Human Playground: This project has been such an exciting journey - talk about an Auto-Fiction novel and a roller coaster of emotions! Using the automobile as a dance partner, a stage, and a travelling machine brings on new challenges every season. With over 50 shows and 10 used cars under our belts, and countless new friendships made along the way, we're ready to make 2014 our biggest road trip ever! First stops: Flux London Dance Festival and Guelph Dance Festival, here we come!

Human Playground digs their way out of winter to join us in Guelph this spring!
Human Playground: Squatting in parking lots, warehouses, or alleys...this is how we do it. Having to deal with the extreme weather of Montreal and the limited city access of a car, the production of this show always seems to be a tour de force, as most adventures are! We learn to get creative, in many ways, and surround ourselves with an extraordinary team, blessed by the support of a few visionary partners.

Human Playground uses whatever space they can find to rehearse.
Human Playground: Most people only see the show, but the show is only a very small part of the journey. We are happy to share with you some behind-the-scenes photos that we've never shown before. When we come to visit you in Guelph, we will bring you to the fabulous destinations that the show has travelled to, but first we will show you how it's done closer to home, and what getting ready to embrace adventure means to us!
Human Playground gets ready to embrace adventure in Guelph!
The car as a dance partner, stage, travelling machine, and place of rest and humour!

Cheers from the Auto-Fiction team! Here's to amazing and crazy projects!

Montreal-based dancer and choreographer Milan Gervais conceives and performs choreographic proposals for public spaces: on sidewalks (Side walk dancing, 2008), in parking lots (Auto-Fiction, 2009), in transit paths (Trait d’union, 2011), and around crosswalks (Intersection, 2012). Her work has been presented at many festivals in Canada and Europe.

She has co-directed Human Playground with Louliko Shibao since 2011. A creative platform and dance company, Human Playground develops new ways of looking at live art forms as powerful creative communication tools. Human Playground creates human-scale communication devices offering performative, interactive, and participatory experiences. human-playground.com

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Kids Find Meaning with RUBBERBANDance Group

RUBBERBANDance Group is known for its creative risk-taking, innovative choreography, and melding of technical expertise and dance prowess with youth inspired movements like hip-hop. The result is a hybrid of physical expression, marrying discipline and tradition, with the sensibility of the street. Their new work, Empirical Quotient, was co-commissioned by Guelph Dance and will be presented on Friday, March 28 at 8pm at River Run Centre.

While they're in Guelph, the Group is presenting 6 lecture/demonstrations for young audiences through the "Linamar for the Performing Arts" program, reaching a total of 4200 kids. We sat in on their first show this morning and caught up with the kids afterwards.

Choreographer Victor Quijada knows how to hold the attention of a young audience. Going back and forth between snippets of their full-length works and demonstrations of their unique choreographic method, Victor helps the kids to see meaning behind the movement.

Victor asks "Do you like what you see?" The Main Stage Theatre is engulfed in a resounding "YEAHHHH!" "Well for my next experiment, I'm going to need your help". Hands shoot up, with plenty of volunteers for Victor to choose from.

Victor's 5 eager volunteers each act out a word - everyone, think, dance, really, amazing - and he helps coach them to add layers to their movement, whether its a wave, a few chest pops, or a turn. Within only a few minutes, we have a short sequence that says, "Everyone think(s) dance (is) really amazing!"

After their final excerpt from Empirical Quotient, Victor has the Group members introduce themselves. An eclectic mix of dancers from Venezuela, the US, Italy, and Vancouver, 3 of whom are Juilliard-trained, help the kids to realize that "you can create new styles of dance with other people" and that "dance styles can be all mixed up".

This was one teacher's first-ever dance performance, and she was expecting a full-length piece, but was excited that there was some instruction of the RUBBERBAND Method, as "this was a great way to connect with the kids".

When I asked about their favourite part, I was excited to hear them use the words that choreographer Victor Quijada used: "threading!", "freezing!", "pushing and reacting!", "the technique with the loopholes!"

Some kids couldn't put their favourite parts into words, so instead, they showed me! I think we may have inspired more than a few kids to find their own unique style. 
Dorothy Fisher, a long-time volunteer with Guelph Dance and River Run Centre, pointed out that "when the kids come out re-enacting what they saw, you know you got 'em".

We would love to get you too! Get your tickets for the full-length performance of Empirical Quotient on Friday, March 28 at 8pm at River Run Centre Box Office: 519-763-3000.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Behind the Scenes with RUBBERBANDance

RUBBERBANDance Group is known for its creative risk-taking, innovative choreography, and melding of technical expertise and dance prowess with youth inspired movements like hip-hop. The result is a hybrid of physical expression, marrying discipline and tradition, with the sensibility of the street. Their new work, Empirical Quotient, was co-commissioned by Guelph Dance and will be presented on Friday, March 28 at 8pm at the River Run Centre.

Victor Quijada, Co-Artistic Director and Choreographer of RUBBERBANDance Group, talks with us today about how his creative process has evolved over time and what Guelph audiences can expect.

Victor: The commission by the CanDance Network and our other creative partners has been a wonderful opportunity – first, to have the funding, and second to have tour dates booked before the piece even premiered. It has been incredibly validating for my work and my vision to be endorsed in this way, especially because they gave me a blank slate to work with, rather than having their own ideas in mind for the final product. The piece itself continues to grow and develop as we are on tour.

This is the first time I will not be dancing in my own piece, as I have been able to communicate my message to the 6 dancers, and I do not feel the need to be on stage with them. This has largely been due to the resources that the commission has provided, including a creation residency at the Grand Theatre in Kingston.

Photos of Empirical Quotient by Michael Slobodian.
Victor: I used to be very interested in the extremes of my training background – classical and street styles – and what happens when these exist in the same space. I am now exploring the more subtle elements of that convergence. I have developed a technique to support the style that I am creating. My dancers have varied backgrounds – some with contemporary, some that come from street styles, and some with circus training – but they all need to train in the RUBBERBAND Method in order to execute the vocabulary.

While the RUBBERBAND Method pulls from other contemporary techniques, it is not verbatim. We focus on connecting with the floor through the feet and connecting with the other people in the room. I want to get the dancers out of the vertical axis, and more into the horizontal, diagonal, or even inverted, so that they can flow through these fluidly. This comes from the hip hop cypher where there is no front and everything is performed in a closed circle. It is hard to put our signature style into words, you will just have to come see the show and let the work speak for itself!

Photos of the RUBBERBAND Method by Michael Slobodian.
Victor: The shows for the young audiences throughout the week will be a combination lecture and demo. They will see sections from the full-length piece but there will also be interactive elements where we invite some kids up on stage. Sharing a bit of the RUBBERBAND Method with them will help them understand how we arrived at the works.

The audiences will witness the ways that the dance actors interact with each other, and the moments of discovery and exchange that take place. We commissioned music compositions from Jasper Gahunia, who trained at the Royal Conservatory of Music and has since become a DJ, so he is kind of the musical version of me. There is a lot of work behind what we are offering, and we can’t wait to keep the momentum going.

Co-presented by the River Run Centre, Empirical Quotient is a production of RUBBERBANDance Group and a co-production of The CanDance Network Creation Fund, Danse Danse, Grand Theatre Kingston, Guelph Dance, Le Theatre Hector-Charland, and la Société de la Place des Arts, with the kind collaboration of the Segal Centre for Performing Arts.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

What Makes Our March Break Camp Magical

We had a fabulous week at our 2014 Arts Explosion March Break Camp, but then again, we always have a great time at camp! We want to share with you why our counsellors, campers, and camper parents think our camp is so magical. 

Lynette Segal led the 4-5 year old campers in creative movement. Here they are waking up and stretching like bears coming out of hibernation. The theme of "spring awakening" helped to guide our activities throughout the week.
As one grandparent commented, our camp has a "good variety of activities, enthusiastic instructors, a great venue, and high quality art instruction". This does sound like a winning formula! It can also be the little things that make a difference. While we receive lots of compliments for being well-organized overall, having the coats, boots, snow pants, and backpacks lined up at the end of the day to make pick-up easier was an extra touch that did not go unnoticed. Special thanks to our counsellors for taking on even the unglamorous tasks!
Left: Campers' art work made it feel like spring had sprung even through the mid-March blizzard that we faced! Right: We are fortunate to be in the position of witnessing the campers develop their masterpieces, and the pride that goes along with art-making.

We love to hear that campers enjoyed their time with us. Some are already looking forward to summer camp:

"It was the best thing that my son has done over March Break. It was wonderful!"

"Wonderful job! It was interesting for both my girls and we would sign them up again!"

The camp is great at "keeping the kids active and looking forward to the next day. My daughter had a fantastic time and is already talking about coming back in the summer!"

"My daughter had a fabulous week and we'll be back!"
Left: The Blue Group learned shaping in contemporary dance with Jasmin McGraw. Right: They even got to use balloons to help them through the exploration of different body postures!
We had an amazing team of volunteer camp counsellors and art assistants, who the campers said they "LOVE". Turns out that the counsellors love camp too! In the words of one of our team leaders, "I love this camp! So much fun, an awesome atmosphere, and these kids are the best. I'd much rather spend my time here than at home on the computer."
Top: The Red Group worked on building their muscles and their confidence in hip hop with Carolyn Hebert. Bottom: The Blue Group sang "Here Comes the Sun" at the showcase on Friday afternoon, complete with guitar accompaniment and sunshine-y yellow scarves!
We would like to thank our energetic and creative instructors - Carolyn Hebert, Shannon Kingsbury, Jasmin McGraw, Janet Morton, and Lynette Segal - as well as our team of 20 volunteers for their amazing work. Camp would not be possible without them. In the words of a grateful parent, "Every child is happy and so engaged. It's lovely to see. The camp is run very well and all counsellors and teachers are so happy to be here. That speaks volumes."

Our campers and counsellors strike a pose at snack time in the River Run Centre lobby. Camp is a great place to re-connect with old friends and make new ones!

We are happy to say that with the help of our donors to the Monica Davis Camp Scholarship Fund we were able to provide 5 families with subsidized spaces for their child. It touches our hearts that many of you have made this possible and that we can witness the joy it brings to the children. One child hugged our staff on Friday and said "I am so sad, I do not want this camp to ever end".  We have a waiting list of children hoping to attend the Summer Camps at subsidized rates. Please donate today to help make this possible!

Like what you see? Registration for our 2014 Arts Explosion Summer Camps, July 7-11 & 14-18, is available now through the River Run Centre. We are also recruiting volunteer camp counsellors and art assistants. Contact Lindsay at info@guelphdance.ca for more information. We would love to have you join us!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tara Luz Danse Returns to Guelph for CSA Nooner

Tara Luz Danse will be performing in Guelph next week as Guelph Dance and the Central Student Association (CSA) partner to present another CSA Nooner at the University of Guelph's University Centre Courtyard. Join us for this free performance-workshop combination at 12pm on Wednesday, March 5th.

Anik Bouvrette, celebrated choreographer, talks here about the excitement of returning to Guelph as part of the company's first-ever tour of Ontario.

Anik: We have performed En studio avec nous in the studio where we rehearse as a public event for our community, and this has been a huge success. We have been the resident dance company at the Shenkman Arts Centre in Orleans, Ottawa since its opening in 2009, and have been working at building an audience for dance in that part of town.

En studio avec nous includes excerpts of our professional work in a more informal context, as well as an element of participation, to get the audience moving. A frequent comment from the audience is now that they've seen us work and moved with us, they will not look at dance the same way. We love that we are able to demystify dance and break down some of the barriers that keep people from participating.

Tara Luz Danse performing Les billes. Photo by Jeremy Mimnagh.
Anik: Our tour includes three other stops - Sudbury, Oshawa, and Kingston - all in partnership with multidisciplinary Francophone presenters. So Guelph will be a bit more familiar territory for us. We are excited to see how the event works in a university setting, where people are passing by. Will they stop and get involved? I hope so!

Tara Luz Danse performing Les billes at the 2011 Guelph Dance Festival. Photo by James MacDonald.
Anik: Guelph has a special place in my heart. I have so much respect for all that Catrina and Janet have done in Guelph, as they built an audience for dance from the ground up. There is so much leadership coming from Guelph, and I am grateful for Catrina and Janet's advice on creating a demand for dance in a region outside of a larger dance centre, as I am trying to do now.

When I was teaching at Guelph Dance's March Break Camp last year, I could tell that the parents were an informed audience. They were attentive and thoughtful. I thought to myself, that is 15 years of work and it has paid off! There is something about Guelph, a vibe, an awareness. I am always happy to come back there.
Anik Bouvrette with Guelph Dance Co-Artistic Director, Janet Johnson, and musician Adam Bowman. On the right, Anik and her assistant Amelia working with the Dance Focus Group at the 2013 March Break Camp.
Join us on March 5th at noon in the University Centre Courtyard, where you'll feast your eyes on excerpts from two pieces by Tara Luz Danse and be inspired to get in on the action with Anik and her dancers!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Meet Our March Break Camp Instructors!

Our Arts Explosion March Break and Summer Camps are a fun-filled, pressure-free exploration of the arts. Renowned local and national artists encourage children from 4-13 in all art forms. This March Break Camp is perfect for the child who loves to create: they'll sing in a glee club, dance up a storm, make art, and learn some hip hop moves! Book with the River Run Centre now to have them join this fabulous roster of local artists from March 10-14, 2014! 

For this week's blog, we caught up with our instructors about why they are excited to teach at our camp - some for the first time, and some for the dozenth time! 

Special Guest Artist Jasmin McGraw
Jasmin will work with the Dance Focus on Technique and Repertory in the mornings, and the Red and Blue  Groups in the afternoons.
Jasmin: What I am most excited for this March Break Camp is the amount of bubbling positive energy that will be in one room. Also, I am anxious to meet so many new faces and to see everyone moving to beautiful live music. I am ready to be inspired and thaw my winter blues!

Since being introduced to ballet at a young age, Jasmin McGraw has developed a great passion for dance. She is most drawn to the modest power and simplicity of contemporary dance. Jasmin has been a member of HNM Dance Co. since 2000. She moved to Toronto in 2002 to begin her studies at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre. After graduation she danced for José Navas in Montréal’s Springboard Danse Professional Project. Next was a year at Codarts’ Rotterdam Dance Academy in the Netherlands. This experience sparked the need to travel and the following year she was in Panama teaching dance workshops to the contemporary dance students at the University of Panama.

Jasmin has been practicing as a Registered Massage Therapist since 2010. Balancing Artistry and Healing as a member of both Dancetheatre David Earle and Speed River Physiotherapy, she feels blessed to allow each world to feed and inform the other. 

Lynette Segal
Lynette will work with the Orange Group on building their skills in Creative Movement.
Lynette: I'm excited to continue to work with wee ones again at this upcoming camp - it's an absolute delight! By exploring how their bodies move, the forms they can make and feelings evoked in-so-doing, we set compassion, coordination and confidence in motion.

Lynette Segal has studied at the Banff Centre, Concordia and York Universities, The School of the Toronto Dance Theatre, and with teachers from Les Ateliers de Dance Moderne de Montreal, and performed independently in Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Toronto and Guelph and with Decidedly Jazz Danceworks and Dancer's Studio West (Calgary). More recently, she has focused on improvisational dance performance, working collaboratively with Ben Grossman, Susanna Hood, Karen Kaeja, Janet Johnson, Susan Lee, Lisa Nelson, the late Oliver Schroer, Catrina Von Radecki, Rebecca Todd, and Miranda Tufnell. Her study in somatic movement systems includes Mitzvah, Feldenkrais and Alexander techniques, and Body-Mind Centering. In the spring of 2009, she co-founded Fall on Your Feet, a movement collective based in Guelph focusing on teaching and performing movement improvisation. Other workshops and classes include experiential anatomy and creative movement for children, youth and adults.

Shannon Kingsbury

Shannon will lead the Orange Group through Songs and Storytelling, and run a Glee Club with the Red and Blue Groups.

Shannon: After summer camp, a grandmother told me that her grandchild had come home on Thursday in awe of hearing a harp (really, it was a rickety old harp I was playing! but apparently still beautiful to this child's eye/ear). Every time the child described the harp to her family, she started to cry. When her parents asked her why she was crying, her response was something like this: "When I think about the harp, its like its happening all over again. And its so beautiful". I look forward to collecting more stories about the ways that the arts touch the lives of our campers. 

Shannon Kingsbury is a singer, harpist, composer, and educator. Shannon has taught with many outstanding arts organizations including: Kingsbury Music, Guelph Dance Arts Explosion Camp, Creativity Greenhouse, Season Singers, Musikgarten of Guelph and Waterside Arts. Shannon holds certificates in Early Childhood Music, Orff, Voice, Music Theory and Kodaly.

Little campers will love using their voices, bodies, small instruments, and props in creative music play. The energetic music session will be followed by an enchanting visit to the "magic dressing room" for stories. Older campers will get energized by singing in their very own glee club-style group!

Carolyn Hebert
Carolyn will help campers in the Red, Blue, and Dance Focus Groups find their own unique hip hop style.
Carolyn: I look forward to exploring the individual personalities of each camper through hip hop! The many genres of hip hop that we will experiment with will encourage very different ways of moving. Each dancer will be able to find his and her own swagger, and will learn how they can incorporate their own style into all forms of movement.

Currently pursuing a Masters of Dance from York University with a focus on dance history and education, Carolyn Hebert has been teaching tap, jazz, ballet, contemporary and hip hop for almost a decade. She graduated from Eastwood Collegiate Institute's Integrated Arts Program, majoring in Dance and Drama. Carolyn has since attained a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Ottawa while teaching and choreographing for several dance schools within the Ottawa-Gatineau region. Carolyn has been featured in music videos for Keshia Chante and My Favourite Tragedy, and has performed with Dance Dance Canada, Casino Productions, the Canadian Musical Odyssey, the Guelph Little Theatre, and ECI's Kinesis Dance Company.

Janet Morton

Janet will work with Orange, Red, Blue, and Dance Focus Groups to turn the Canada Company Hall space into an art gallery.

Janet: I'm excited to get back into the amazing space at the River Run Centre and watch how it is transformed through the course of the week from a big, new and strange space to a place the campers feel is their own.
Janet Morton is an award-winning artist who has exhibited across Canada and internationally. For more than 15 years, Janet has been teaching art to all ages, from preschool to post-secondary. The visual arts sessions at our Arts Explosion Camp are creative, tactile explorations of various materials, techniques, and themes. A camper attending the entire week can expect to work on 2-D and 3-D projects and contribute to a collective transformation of the River Run Centre's Canada Company Hall.

We still have spaces left in our 2014 March Break Camp, but they are filling up fast! Visit the River Run Centre Box Office or call them at 519-763-3000 to book your child's spot today! Visit our website for more information on programming and prices.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Celebrating the Success of the Fab 5 Cabaret

The Fab 5 Festivals are thrilled with the success of our first cabaret project. We are proud of the fact that the programming offered a diversity that showcased the talent, humour, and generosity of our community. We all benefit from collaboration across disciplines, which leads to new possibilities as we celebrate the arts. 

For this week's blog, we caught up with Marie Zimmerman, the Executive Director of the Hillside Festival, about this great way of opening Hillside Inside 2014.

  From my perspective, the event went supremely well. Each Festival organization has copious talent at its disposal and each representative is a creative planner par excellence. The artists we pulled together for the evening were remarkable, and their pieces were by turns soul-searching, quirky, strange, beautiful, and heart-swelling. It was a night of contrasts: in music alone, we had Tony Dekker’s quiet meditations on life, GUH’s playful and unpredictable meanderings, and Maestro Fresh Wes’s flamboyant affirmations. In film, we had Georges Méliès’ bizarre sci-fi fantasy from 1912. In dance, we had Kelly Steadman’s feisty celebration of impetuosity and Janet Johnson’s courageous exploration of the dark-light continuum. So, you were never bored. And you never knew what to expect.

Tony Dekker performing songs from Prayer of the Woods. Photo by Peter Grimaldi.
GUH, composed of Guelph and Toronto musicians, providing a soundtrack to the George Méliès 1912 film, Conquest of the Pole. Photo by Peter Grimaldi.
     Marie: I can't pick out a few highlights, because each piece was a highlight—honestly.  My love for each of these Festivals and their arts and my respect for their curating made the Fab 5 cabaret not only a dream come truewhich sounds sappy, I knowbut also an awe-inspiring event. Here we had in one room on one night the energy of people who really have something to say: people who have visions of humanity and a sense of purpose that they cannot help but communicate. Their visions were expressed in beautiful and complex pieces of art that kickstarted our imaginations. 

The Guelph Youth Apprentice II Company performing You Can by Janet Johnson in the lobby of the River Run Centre at the intermission.
Solana Del Bel Belluz, Rowen McBride, Brooke Powell, Corinna Shelley, and Ari Zimmerman performing in Young Lions by Kelly Steadman. Photo by Oliver Mercure.
Marie: People can expect to see us at each other’s Festivals. We received Ontario Trillium Foundation funding to develop our co-presentation partnership, so we need experience doing it in order to hone the partnership. Audiences have a lot to look forward to in the coming years!

      Make no mistake: it’s not easy pulling five Festivals together on a single show. It’s a little like asking five conductors to direct an orchestra where each of the musicians has been picked by a different festival.  It can be a sonic Hallelujah but it can also deteriorate into everyone yelling, “do I play NOW?” “What’s the tempo?“  “Can we have a metronome at first?”  The fact that we were so successful is a credit to our ability to step up, get out of the way, or leap when it counts. And it’s lucky we like each other! I look forward to all that will come out of this amazing collaboration.
Katie Ewald, Robert Kingsbury, and Lynette Segal performing in This Side of Light by Janet Johnson and Portal Dance Project. Photo by Oliver Mercure.
Maestro Fresh Wes Williams with his book, Stick to Your Vision (McClelland, 2010). Photo by Oliver Mercure.
Like what you saw?
As part of the Fab 5's new co-presentation model, we can curate a cabaret style show for your event! Contact catrina@guelphdance.ca for more information.

We would like to thank the Ontario Trillium Foundation for all of their support of this Fab 5 co-production.