Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Wanted: 3 Fearless Dances for Jody Oberfelder Projects

Guelph Dance is partnering with Jody Oberfelder Projects of New York City on a residency to remount a piece for the 2015 Guelph Dance Festival. 4Chambers is an intimate, sensorial journey, witnessed by only 12 audience members at a time. Show Business Weekly called it “an opportunity to feel alive”.

Jody is looking for 3 strong, agile, fearless, and personable dancers who are interested in creating this experience for the audience, along with 3 dancers travelling in from NYC. This is an excellent opportunity for artistic exchange and development. Interested dancers from Guelph and the surrounding area should send a video clip, whether its from a performance or improvisation in the studio, to Jody at jody@jodyoberfelder.com. More information on the project can be found at the Jody Oberfelder Projects website.

On the blog today, Jody and her dancers demonstrate what she is looking for. If you think you fit the bill, send her your video now!


video

video

video

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Memories from Camp: Compliments All Around

Our 2014 Arts Explosion Summer Camps, from July 7-11 and 14-18, were a huge success! Heartfelt thanks go out to all of the instructors, volunteers, River Run Centre staff, and campers for an inspiring and energizing two weeks! Parents: if you didn't have a chance to fill out a survey on your last day of camp, please take a minute to do so online here

This blog is dedicated to all of our enthusiastic, creative, brave, energetic, and groovy campers from the last two weeks. During our 'closing circle' at the end of the day, we worked on posters with our age group that listed each person's name. After having learned about their new friends in the classes, at snack time, and over lunch, it was the campers' and counsellors' responsibility to articulate what every camper was especially talented at, and what complimentary words describe their personality. Here is what they came up with. Warning: contents may be heartwarming. Note that the campers are identified by their first initial only.

Week 1, July 7-11

Red Group
I. - talented at art, very enthusiastic, great ideas in hip hop

S. - always does well in dance, has great energy all day
C. - very creative and very good at skipping
A. - always focused and hardworking in art, is sweet and nice to everyone
B. - did great in hip hop and contemporary, is a great role model to other campers
L. - a very good listener, very independent
M. - always does well in art, great at making friends
A. - does well in dance, tries everything with a smile on his face
J. - makes friends easily, improved listening skills throughout the week
C. - has awesome ideas, became bigger part of the group
A. - such a good listener, such a happy kid
H. - clearly loves art, adds energy to everything
Z. - a great sharer, is sweet and nice to everyone
C. - great in drama class, tries everything enthusiastically
L. - clearly loves art, is a happy smiling kid
T. - shines in contemporary, makes friends easily
R. - great at starting games, good at coming up with hip hop moves
S. - brought her A game in hip hop, is sweet to everyone
J. - good at being silly, has a great smile
G. - super creative, improved listening skills throughout the week
J. - made a great secret handshake in class, nice to have around
E. - great at drama and skipping, makes friends with everyone
S. - came out of her shell in drama, is a great participant
J. - shines in art, always has a smile on his face
D. - very independent, became bigger part of the group

Blue Group
A. - fun, big smile, enthusiastic, creative
G. - generous, nice, creative
M. - sporty, always laughing, energetic
L. - great dancer, nice to everyone, funny, good soccer player

E. - hard worker, high energy, great ideas, good memory
G. - great dancer, friendly, awesome fashion sense
R. - always smiling, nice, fashionable, hard worker
A. - friendly, good participant, nice smile
V. - sparkly, always in a good mood, good conversation starter
B. - has good ideas, quiet but nice to everyone
O. - good dancer, great energy, big smile
E. - flexible, bubbly, always making jokes
J. - a joker, giggly, big warm smile

C. - fun, energetic, artistic, smart, friendly
N. - calm, good participant, caring
K. - came out of his shell, good hip hop moves

Green Group
S. - nice hair, flexible, focused, picked up choreography well, makes nice art
P. - good actress, good fashion sense, great at handstands
C. - dedicated and worked through injury, good actress, persistent

O. - kind, soft-spoken, good gymnast, pretty, good actress
K. - picked up choreography well, nice, soft-spoken, focused, makes nice art
J. - funny, good participant, artistic, good ideas in drama, good actress
L. - good dancer, flexible, funny, creative ideas, confident
H. - intelligent, all-round awesome, nice smile, good dancer
R. - funny, cool shirts, good dancer especially on barre, silly, confident
M. - funny, bubbly, good at dance and acting, acts her age, good leader
I. - nice hair, good at soccer, sweet, funny, active
A. - nice, peaceful, good dancer and actress, funny, makes nice art
I. - funny, pretty, active, brave, calm, sweet
M. - confident, funny, persistent, good at making art, tall!
E. - good dancer, very dramatic, good ideas
S. - speedy, good singer, stylish, bubbly
L. - confident, generous, she perseveres

Week 2, July 14-18

Red Group
T. - good dancer and artist, nice to everyone, confident

A. - makes nice art, good friend, caring, good ideas
L. - good dancer, caring, sweet
B. - makes nice art, good friend/sister, caring, became bigger part of the group
C. - good ideas, dedicated to his art, good friend/brother, started to dance more

J. - kind and loving, shares, good dancer, outgoing, loves to skip!
S. - shares, good dancer, good friend, helpful

J. - energetic, silly, good friend, more focused
R. - good friend and good dancer, silly, nice, better listening
D. - great participant in dance, generous, awesome in art
A. - energetic, silly, responsible, confident
A. - great at playing, good friend and artist, loves gymnastics, makes friends easily
C. - thoughtful, loving, confident, good dancer
E. - good friend, awesome skipper, thoughtful, great at making music
H. - friendly, kind-hearted, cute, confident, budding artist and dancer
A. - good friend and artist, silly, has great ideas, makes friends easily
M. - kind, good friend, caring, has great moves
L. - good friend, artist and dancer, courageous, kind
S. - silly, brave, good dancer and artist, great skipper, friendly
L. - responsible, kind-hearted, good friend and dancer
J. - funny, kind, responsible, great in dance and art

Blue Group
P. - smiley, good friend, funny, good at handstands, fashionista
L. - high energy, positive, always smiling, good singer, good participant
K. - flexible, funny, active participant, good friend, silly, dedicated collector

J. - confident, weird and wonderful, funny, always happy, artistic, nice
H. - good singer, very artistic, friendly to everyone, nice
R. - nice to everyone, good dancer, smiley, cute, good friend, such soft hair!
O. - really good participant, nice, hard worker, artistic, very good skater, colourful
W. - hard worker, smiley, curious, always positive, very caring
S. - creative, weird in a good way, unique, good dancer, artistic, sporty, enthusiastic
E. - strong leader, good friend, funny/silly, quirky, nice, bubbly, good skater
I. - good hockey player, very good friend, always participates, creative
C. - funny, good friend, nice to everyone, confident, artistic, bubbly, good singer
A. - really good at drawing, unique, confident, big personality, funny
S. - good participant, nice, positive, caring, good friend
M. - good dancer, sassy in a good way, energetic, colourful, friendly

Tickets for our 2015 March Break Camp will go on sale December 1, 2014, so stay tuned for the details! Spaces go quickly - don't miss out on this fun-fulled, pressure-free exploration of the arts!

Monday, 21 July 2014

2014 Guelph Dance Festival Captured by Pulse Photography

Our photographers, Teigan Baker and Chris Seto of Pulse Photography, scrambled as much as we did to make it to every Festival event, beating the crowd to find the best vantage points. We are so excited to share some reflections from Teigan, who shot the Festival while nursing a broken foot. That is dedication to the craft!

Teigan: From May 29 to June 1, the city of Guelph came alive with the extraordinary art of dance. It was impossible not to become inspired by the dancers who performed. I had goosebumps on multiple occasions, despite the perfect summer weather we were blessed with. The Festival was an unforgettable one, brimming with heaps of inventiveness, entertainment and talent.
Everyday Marvels by Shannon Litzenberger Contemporary Dance, on Stage B of the 2014 Guelph Dance Festival. Photo by Pulse Photography.
Teigan: As a dancer myself, the challenge that comes from performing in unusual venues is not lost on me. Grass, pavement, a downtown dance studio, a living room, and even in and around a parked car, were all unexpected locales for movement, and the dancers performed flawlessly. It was so uplifting to witness Guelph become enlivened with spins, leaps, kicks, pops and struts.
Auto-Fiction by Human Playground, at the In the Park performances of the 2014 Guelph Dance Festival. Photo by Pulse Photography.
JACK YOUR BODY by Mix Mix Dance Collective, at the After Party & Late Night Show of the 2014 Guelph Dance Festival. Photo by Pulse Photography.
Teigan: I want to commend all of the brilliant artists and performers who animated our city with such beauty. A thank you also to my enormously talented partner, Chris Seto, who shot this festival with me.

The images featured here are some of my favourites from the weekend, but heaps more are available online at www.pulsephotography.ca/PrivGalleries, with the password letsdance. All photos are on sale! To purchase images, please contact me at teigan@pulsephotography.ca.
at once (im)possible by Jessica Runge, at the In the Studio performances of the 2014 Guelph Dance Festival. Photo by Pulse Photography.
Beside You by MOonhORsE Dance Theatre, at the In the Studio performances of the 2014 Guelph Dance Festival. Photo by Pulse Photography.
Abandon by Dasein Dance School, at the Youth Moves performance of the 2014 Guelph Dance Festival. Photo by Pulse Photography.
A workshop at the Dance Market event of the 2014 Guelph Dance Festival. Photo by Pulse Photography.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Embrace Adventure with Mocean Dance: Susanne & Lesandra's 3rd Festival

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!

Susanne Chui shares a bit about her experience working with choreographer Lesandra Dodson for the third time. Mocean Dance performs at On the Stage A on Friday, May 30 at 8pm at the Co-operators Hall of River Run Centre. Tickets are available now through the River Run Centre Box Office!


Susanne: In preparation for writing this blog post, I reflect that this is actually my third time performing in the Guelph Dance Festival, and each time it has been in work by Lesandra Dodson. I further reflect that each time Lesandra and I travelled to the Festival, we have been at very different stages in our lives, and in our work as dance artists. In fact, the Guelph Dance Festival has acted as a kind of marker in the ongoing flow of time.
Photo of Mocean Dance by Holly Crooks.

Susanne: Our first appearance at the Festival was 2003, when we performed the quartet Kuere, with TILT: sound + motion dance company, where I was a dancer, fresh out of the School of Toronto Dance Theatre, and Lesandra was choreographer-in-residence. The second time, in 2011, we presented a solo I commissioned from Lesandra, called Her blameless mystery.  By then, both Lesandra and I had moved from Toronto and were living out east, myself in Halifax, NS and Lesandra in Fredericton, NB. I had made the transition from being primarily a ‘for hire’ dancer in the ‘big city’ to a wearing the many hats of being an independent dance artist in a smaller city. Lesandra had kids and built a family life in New Brunswick, while becoming immersed in that community and continuing her choreographic practice.

Now in 2014, I am returning to the Festival as Artistic Director of Mocean Dance company, having made another big ‘move’ from independent dance life to running a company. Lesandra also took on a leadership position in her community, as Executive Director of the Charlotte Street Arts Centre.
Photo of Mocean Dance by Holly Crooks.
Susanne: Inasmuch as our lives have changed over the past 11 years since Sandy and I first came to Guelph, her choreographic work has also shifted, evolved, and changed with time. Over this period I have been in a fortunate position to sense this shift, literally through my body, by performing her work. So how has it changed? Well I would say that the biggest shift is a  ‘distilling towards the essential’. Where Kuere was highly physical, dense, fast paced, layered with text, the work we will be presenting this year, A leash for two hounds, is sparser, less ‘dancey’, more pared down. In creating this piece, Lesandra wanted to challenge herself to work within limits. The first was how to create a duet on a man and a woman that is not a traditional male-female “relationship.” The second was to not use text or video, two elements that were becoming common in her work, and played a large role in Her blameless mystery. The third was to use props, but also with the limitation of using them outside of their intended way. As she worked with Darryl and I, she further began to impose limitations, including the significant choice to have us face the back for almost the entire piece. The question then became what can be expressed when the face is taken away?
Photo of Mocean Dance by Lesandra Dodson.

Susanne: To me, these limitations are part of Lesandra’s search for the essential. She has always been a huge ‘editor’ of her material, she’s not the kind of person who is married to the movement: if it’s not speaking to her, it’s cut! (So much so that we joke that all her pieces end up only being 12 minutes long!) But I think this shift towards essentialism goes beyond editing. I think it speaks to a deeper desire that is surfacing in Lesandra. She appears to be at a stage in her life where less is more, where depth trumps breadth, where the ‘why’ is more important than the ‘what’. I see this in her life as well, having survived the amazing circus of independent dance life, raising a family, and running an arts centre, she is taking a step back and looking at what is essential to move forward. I’ve seen this shift in many of my peers and I’m starting to feel a pull in this direction as well. To me this is what makes following an artist’s work over the long term so exciting: you get to see the work evolve as a reflection of the evolution of the artist herself. I’m pleased be able to witness this process and be part its’ expression through dancing Lesandra’s work. I wonder if audiences in Guelph will remember the other two times we presented at the Festival, and if they too will experience this subtle shift. Looking forward to finding out!


See you soon,
Susanne Chui

Based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Mocean Dance is nationally recognized as a leading company from the Atlantic region. Led by Artistic Director Susanne Chui and Artistic Associate Sara Coffin, Mocean brings together artists to create, produce and tour exciting new work annually, collaborating with some of North America’s finest choreographers. Now in its thirteenth season, Mocean is committed to its home base in Nova Scotia, contributing to the province’s growing dance and arts community by providing opportunities for creation, performance, collaboration, development and education. www.moceandance.com

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Embrace Adventure with Our Platinum Sponsors

As we gear up for the Festival this weekend, we would like to highlight our Platinum Sponsors, who have all contributed $5,000-$9,999 of support to our 2014 Embrace Adventure season. Intrigue Media, 1460 CJOY/106.1 Magic, and 93.3 CFRU have all been promoting the 2014 Festival, helping to make sure that you - our lovely and enthusiastic audience members - mark your calendars, buy your tickets for the Stage and Studio, and show up at the Park with picnics and sunscreen!

Did you see Festival footage in the waiting room at your doctor's office, while enjoying a pint at Bobby O'Brien's, or while in line for a table at Eggcetra? Intrigue Media has helped us engage you - our community members - year-round, by playing this snappy little video on "Intrigue TVs" across our great city! There is nothing better than clips of stunning performances to get you excited for the next year's line-up! Special thanks to Emma Rogers and Jeff Dale for their energy and ideas.


Do you remember hearing about our Arts Explosion March Break Camps or the action-packed Festival we have planned for you when you were in the cereal aisle at the grocery store or commuting into work? 1460 CJOY AM and 106.1 Magic FM have been recording and playing our ads for the last two Festivals, helping us to reach you in your homes and workplaces. We can't wait to see you at all of the Festival events with your family members and co-workers! Special thanks to Brenda Reid-Gibson for her enthusiasm and support.

Do you study in the Bullring, exercise at the Gryphons Athletic Centre, or work on the University of Guelph Campus? Our partnership with 93.3 CFRU has been helping to bring the University community and the wider Guelph community closer together over the last two years We look forward to seeing the friendly faces of University students and staff in the crowds next weekend! Special thanks to Heather Jarvis and Sophie Clark for the enthusiasm and insightful interviews.

All of us at Guelph Dance hope that you will follow in the footsteps of Intrigue Media, CJOY/Magic, and CFRU by Embracing Adventure with us from May 29-June 1!

Sincere thanks also go out to our Funders, Partners, and other Sponsors. We appreciate the unique relationship we have with each of you, and the varying contributions that you all make towards this exciting Festival weekend. On behalf of the Guelph community, thank you for making this "cultural jewel" possible.

2014 Festival Sponsor Board. Design by LINDdesign.
For more information on the 2014 Guelph Dance Festival, please see the full schedule here. If your business is interested in becoming a Sponsor, or if you would like to support us personally, please read up on all the ways to Support Dance!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Embrace Adventure with Katie Ewald & Lynette Segal: Spotlight on our Local Dance Artists

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!

Katie Ewald and Lynette Segal both share some of their story here. Both of them perform at Local Initiatives on Friday May 30 from 4-6pm, at Boarding House Arts, 6 Dublin Street South. Suggested donation $15, or pay-what-you-can. Wine and tasters provided by OX, beer provided by Wellington Brewery.

Lynette: The time I’ve carved aside to play with Steph Yates has become such a valuable, enriching part of my days. As a musical and visual artist, Steph has courageously stepped outside of her comfort zone, and literally stretched herself in ways she hasn't in many, many years. In the studio together, we've created movement sequences, both of us offering ideas we then play with; flip, reverse, slow down, speed-up, etc. She sees patterns, textures, and sound qualities that open up new dimensions to our explorations. When I've come with a sound concept, she inventively finds ways to create it. Steph is a sensitive, gifted and open-minded multi-disciplinary artist. This extremely positive creative process has provided a refreshing exposure to the collaborative dialogue between artists working in diverse fields. Now, back to work!

Photo of Lynette Segal and Steph Yates by Isabel Segal-Grossman. Artwork by Michaela Cruz.
Katie: Guelph. My groovy new home full of artist moms.

As an artist I have been lucky enough to live, go to school, and work in Europe; tour with Danielle Leveille Danse to festivals all over the world; establish my place in experimental dance company Public Recordings as a long time and much appreciated collaborator; and work with the lauded English theatre company Forced Entertainment early in my career.

I moved to Guelph because of pure gut feeling. I hadn’t really ever been here except to one day of Hillside in 2007 to watch my husband-to-be play music. I had heard a lot about the city from him, who spent his formative days in a rock band here. In 2010, pregnant and nauseous, I heard myself saying, “Let’s go to Guelph! There is an amazing music scene there and a DANCE FESTIVAL!”. It became a mantra of sorts in the days leading up to the big move from our life in Montreal. We came here, and 5 months later had a kid.

When I met Janet Johnson and Catrina von Radecki, I was so happy! They are sensitive, wise, curious, courageous dancer moms.  I am really inspired by them both and was immediately brought into the fold. My gut feeling was validated.  


Photo of Katie Ewald by Jacklyn Barber.
Katie: I am pleased to share this Local Initiatives show with Lynette Segal, another inspiring Guelph dancer mom, and the talented musician Steph Yates. The whole building will open its doors and the Arts Incubator studios will feature work by visual artist Adrienne Spier (yet another amazing artist mom!) in collaboration with Robert Kingsbury, a usual suspect in Guelph’s dance scene. Along side all of this, Capacity 3 Gallery, with the Festival of Moving Media, will be presenting a film by Tim Wilson.  This collaboration and cross-disciplinary mingling was exactly what I had hoped for our event.

When Catrina first mentioned the possibility of choosing the space I perform in for the Festival, I immediately thought of the Boarding House building. 
Disappearing Geography requires a strong architectural presence and this particular building has history and character. This piece is both an ode to the architecture that is present in the room and my negotiation of performing solo. Musagetes has very graciously given me permission to perform in their office space. It has that ‘je ne sais quoi’ that the most evocative spaces have. The second I walked into that room I wanted to do my dance there. I am very grateful for the support of Musagetes, and Danica Evering in particular, for taking a risk by showing this project in the place where they work.

Photo of Katie Ewald by Jacklyn Barber.
Katie: It makes me happy that we are engaging the whole Boarding House building with Local Initiatives, and that people will be investigating all kinds of spaces there. Architecture, its role and presence in our lives, has captivated me for a long time. I feel spaces and notice things. I like to just notice, and see if that noticing changes anything. I will be performing Disappearing Geography for the first time as a durational piece. It will be performed from 4pm-6pm, with Musagetes doors closing at 4:45, so you can move over to the Boarding House Gallery and see Echo. The doors will re-open after Lynette’s piece, and I will continue until 6pm.
  
It will be an intimate experience, as the number of people who can be in the Musagetes room will be limited. But I invite you to come, leave, come back. Have a glass of wine. Repeat.

Lynette Segal studied at Concordia and York Universities, Les Ateliers de Dance Moderne de Montreal, and The School of the Toronto Dance Theatre. Lynette has worked with Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, Dancer’s Studio West, One Yellow Rabbit, 502 Dance Lab, and Portal Dance Projects. In addition to independent solo work, she has been honoured by opportunities to work with Matt Brubeck, Barb Bryce, Ben Grossman, Susanna Hood, Karen Kaeja, Janet Johnson, Robert Kingsbury, Shannon Kingsbury, Susan Lee, Lisa Nelson, Sara Porter, Oliver Schroer, Georgia Simms, Sue Smith, Kelly Steadman, Rebecca Todd, Catrina Von Radecki, and Miranda Tufnell. She co-founded Fall on Your Feet, a movement collective which focuses on teaching and performing movement improvisation. Lynette has taught improvisation to children, youth, and adults and continues to be a busy Massage Therapist for nearly twenty years. lynettesegal.com

Steph Yates studied ballet in Hamilton under Catherine Samuel, who ruled over the class with a kind hand and wore her hair in a beehive updo. After dancing for two years, Yates abandoned her practice at the resolute age of 8. Now living in Guelph, a good deal more grown-up, she writes and plays music in several bands, one being Esther Grey, and carries on a visual art practice centred on print, mixed media, and stop-motion animation. Yates’ current artistic interests are pattern, imperfection, movement, shadow, and crossing boundaries. littleroomlabs.ca

Katie Ewald is a dance artist based in Guelph, Ontario. She received her BFA from Concordia University and studied at P.A.R.T.S. (Performing Arts Research and Training Studios) in Brussels. She has collaborated with choreographers Ame Henderson/Public Recordings, Martin Bélanger/LAPS, k.g. Guttman, Lin Snelling, Chanti Wadge, Janet Johnson/Portal Dance Projects, and worked with Daniel Léveillé Danse from 2005-2008. She performed with the experimental theatre company Forced Entertainment in The Voices from 2003-2005. In 2000, she was the only dancer nominated for The Canada Council for the Arts Fund for Future Generations Millennium Prize. She has taught dance workshops across Canada and is currently collaborating on a new duet with Toronto dance artist Mairead Filgate.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Embrace Adventure with Mix Mix Dance Collective: The Ladies of 'Jack Your Body'

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 ladies of Mix Mix Dance Collective's JACK YOUR BODY share some workshop footage so you know what to expect when you join them for a Public Workshop, Saturday, May 31 at 5:30pm at Dancetheatre David Earle Studio. Tickets available through River Run Centre, workshop designed for all levels. Once you learn some moves with Mix Mix Dance Collective, dance the night away with them at the After Party & Late Night Performance, a first for the Guelph Dance Festival!



Ashley & Emily: We will be teaching a mix of waacking, house and hip hop in the class. All of these dance styles are featured in JACK YOUR BODY. We love teaching these styles to people who have never tried them before because they get to know something new. These dances all have their own music and unique history. You will not just be learning how to dance, you will be learning the culture that comes with it. Each of the dancers in JACK YOUR BODY bring their own strenghs to the show and are always excited to share their knowledge. We can't wait to share this show with a new audience! We feel that JACK YOUR BODY is a show that most people can relate to. Most audience members will have seen some of these dances and heard some the music, perhaps not knowing how it all fits together or the social issues around them. We will help change that!

See you on the dancefloor!

Mix Mix Dance Collective was founded to represent diversity in movement, music, and art practice. The work of the Collective deals with issues of equality to challenge socially-constructed identities such as gender and race. Mix Mix Dance Collective is comprised of Emily Law and Ashley Perez, who joined together to create their first 60-minute work JACK YOUR BODY, for the 2013 Toronto Fringe Festival, and then for the 2014 Next Stage Theatre Festival. They are passionate practitioners, teachers, and students of many American street dance styles such as waacking, house, hip hop, and vogue, with a common interest in bringing street dance into a theatre setting.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Embrace Adventure with Deanne Bingleman: The Mad World of Cell Phones

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!

Deeanne Bingleman joins the Guelph Dance Festival for the first time with her Renaissance School of the Arts Dance Company, who will perform at Youth Moves, Sunday June 1 at 4pm. Tickets are available through the River Run Centre Box Office.

Deeanne: Sometimes things in life smack me in the face, and, in a positive way from an artistic perspective, haunt me until I create a dance about them to get them out of my system. Lo and behold Mad World. The constant bombardment of people allowing themselves to be interrupted by these gadgets, people checking them obsessively, walking into people, having car accidents from the "need" to text made me feel like I was the observer looking into a fish bowl of chaos. I failed to understand this need people have developed to be attached and observed quietly for a long while. 

Taxi drivers thanked me for talking to them. I finally asked one of my regular drivers about this new policy and he replied "it isn't a policy, it's just no one talks anymore, people get in the car, mumble addresses and then don't say a word for the rest of the ride because they have something in their hand they are working on etc." Then I started noticing that students become fatigued more quickly, and wondered what changed. They, too, were attached to the constant goings on in friends' and aquaintances' lives through these gadgets. Deep down the buzz of a "dance evolving" was coming on.  

The final moment that pushed me to actually start creating was being at the Conestoga Mall in the middle of the week, and the food court was packed at 11:00 am, which I thought felt weird for a non-holiday time. But even more weird was that I only heard the clangs of the food preparers. Despite the food court being packed, no one was talking. NO ONE! To this day it sends shivers down my spine. I knew Mad World was born.
The "Mad World" dancers in rehearsal.
Deeanne: I decided to set the dance on the dancers without the phones. They didn't know about the phones originally, they just knew there was a "twist" to the dance. Week after week, they excitedly came up with inventive guesses of what I was going to do to the dance but no one ever guessed phones. When we finally finished the dance and they were told the "twist" no one believed me, because I'm not wired up and still proudly own a flip phone. At first they were excited about the concept, and I think they still are, but over time we've also had reflections on what their own "Mad Worlds" are. It was eye-opening for me: despite the conveniences these gadgets bring, the dancers were also  saddened that things like parties, sleepovers, and just hanging out are forever changed by these things. Some have consciously tried to become less attached from their gadgets in pursuit of a real human experience. That is part of my goal with this dance: to see the connection of humanity through the ones that don't have a phone versus the things that are important for those with the gadgets. It is worrisome that children are becoming more attached to these objects than being a child and having a human interaction.
Renaissance School of the Arts dancers posing with their gadgets.
Deanne: I feel honoured to have students who, despite their world of gadgets, have been very receptive to this journey and we look forward to bringing it to fruition at GDF!

Deanne Bingleman’s life mission is to bring positive dance and drama experiences to as many people in as many nooks and crannies she can find or that find her. Deeanne earned her BA Dance from the University of Waterloo in 1995, is a Leading Edge KW Arts Award recipient 1998, and is one of two Canadians certified in the Maor Dance Workout 2013. Deeanne is the Artisitc Director of act OUT – a teaching theatre program in KW – and she has helped build the dance program at Renaissance School of the Arts. Deeanne is thrilled with the growth of these unique educational programs where she welcomes EVERY body. www.renaissanceschoolofthearts.com

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Embrace Adventure with Claudia Moore: Dancing with Titanium Hips


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!

Claudia Moore shares a bit about her experience working with choreographer Susanna Hood. MOonhORsE Dance Theatre performs at In the Studio on Saturday, May 31 at 4pm and Sunday, June 1 at 2pm at the Dancetheatre David Earle Studio. Tickets are available now through the River Run Centre Box Office!
Claudia Moore in rehearsal for Beside You by Susanna Hood. Photo by Omer Yukseker.
Claudia: I’m excited to perform Beside You at the In the Studio series at GDF. I commissioned the work from Susanna Hood for my solo evening, Escape Artist, to celebrate my 60th birthday. It’s based on a poem by P. K. Page. Here is some writing I did on February 10, 2012, after my first creation week with Susanna: 

“Susanna began with improvisations in order to consider my abilities and our process together. What a wild ride for me. I was a bit discouraged after our first day. Improvising is difficult for me due to my physical limitations. I have titanium hips and can’t attack improvisations with the total abandon of my younger body. The tasks became arduous for the wrong reasons and I despaired. Luckily, my mentor, Tedd Robinson, always has words of wisdom for me. “Talk to her. Keep your emotions out of it, but be clear about your physical reality”. I did speak to Susanna and she understood exactly what I was going through; she sometimes struggles with recurring injuries. She adapted her process accordingly and we had a fruitful week together. I was swept away by Susanna’s process; her directions took me to new and profound places. On the final day she put the small pieces we had worked on together in a compelling 10 minute sequence. We are excited to continue.”
Photo of Claudia Moore by Tamara Romanchuk.
Claudia Moore, performer, curator and artistic director of MOonhORsE dance theatre, has been a force on the Canadian dance scene since the late 70’s. She founded MOonhORsE Dance Theatre in 1996 and continues to perform commissioned works through her company. Claudia's major performance projects include a full-evening duet work with performer Dan Wild, Dances in a Small Room (2009), choreographed by Tedd Robinson and James Kudelka, and a solo evening, Escape Artist (2013), choreographed by Paul-Andre Fortier, Susanna Hood, Christopher House and GADFLY (Apolonia Velasquez and Ofilio Portillo). Moore’s acclaimed series for senior and intergenerational dance artists, Older & Reckless, will celebrate its fifteenth season next year. Claudia was a resident artist at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 2008-2010, and has received the Jacqueline Lemieux award for excellence in dance.  www.moonhorsedance.com

Tuesday, 22 April 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, 14 April 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.