Thursday, 10 May 2012

Experiments in Science and Beauty

In the weeks until the Festival gears up, we will be featuring several GCDF dance artists here on the blog. Please join us every Monday and Thursday as we get an intimate, behind-the-scenes glimpse into the artistry, process, and experiences these talented dancers and choreographers from across the country are bringing to this year’s GuelphContemporary Dance Festival. We encourage you to not just read their amazing stories, but to ask questions or engage in conversation about dance in our comments section below.  Get ready to Power Up!

Vancouver-based LINK Dance artistic director and choreographer, Gail Lotenberg, speaks to us today about working on Experiments: Where Logic and Emotion Collide, which presents at our On the Stage, Stage B series on Saturday, June 2, at 8pm.

(Ed note: Gail has just been featured in a podcast interview on Evidance Radio! She is featured right off the top. At minutes 47:46, our own Janet Johnson talks about this year’s festival. Check it out!)

Gail: As the Artistic Director of LINK Dance, I have worked closely with scientists to make dances for many years. In 2008, eight of us (four scientists and four dancers) toured to Toronto to perform our first experiment. A presentation at Luminato Festival, the piece was LINK’s first fusion of dance and science. When we returned to Vancouver, we got to work on our next experiment. Then a year later, we premiered our first full-length production, now officially called, Experiments: Where Logic and Emotion Collide (which appears as an excerpt in the Saturday night show at Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival).
Experiments. Photo by Peter Eastwood.
What I have learned working with scientists over these years is that almost everything you can say about an artist can be said about a scientist. Both are driven by ideas they seek to surface. The rigorous practice of a scientist is the same rigorous practice to create art. But what stands out most of all is our shared passion for discovery.

A famous nineteenth-century thinker, Claude Bernard, once said: “Those who do not know the torment of the unknown cannot have the joy of discovery.” Scientists and artists labor to reveal ideas that form deep within ourselves; this bond has been the lifeblood of this collaboration.

Elegance is a word often applied to dance. But in science elegance is used commonly too. It describes the discovery of a simple truth that lies at the heart of a complex system. Science aims not to describe complexity but instead it seeks to discover the simplicity at the core, which drives the complexity. The search for elegance is the search for truth and, in Physics, scientists call this truth, beauty. Bringing beauty to bear is what leads the human being behind scientific research to tears. And it happens! When I realized the level of emotion that underlies the practice of science, I think I made my most treasured discovery from this multi-year project.
Experiments. Photo by Peter Eastwood.
We are now back to work, refining our production that has its Ontario premiere in 3 weeks. Neither the dancers nor the scientists are more invested in finding the elegant truth at the core of our collaboration. Over our years of working together, we have found a common ground, a shared pursuit and that is what LINK Dance is about: Forging connections through the medium of dance.
Gail Lotenberg. Photo by Tobyn Ross.
Gail Lotenberg is the Artistic Director of LINK Dance. The company tours EXPERIMENTS: Where Logic and Emotion Collide to Ontario from May 25-June 2. 

LINK Dance is a Vancouver-based Contemporary Dance company that creates cross-disciplinary productions, inspired by dialogue. Hosting collaborations with scientists, restorative justice advocates, legal scholars, and the public, these collaborations generate inspiration. At the cutting edge of community-engaged art practice, LINK Dance has toured its projects throughout Canada, to the US and Europe since 2001.!/LINKdance


  1. First of all what and awesome idea! I love getting a sneak peak into where the artists are coming from through this blog. I always go away hungry for more inside info after reading the blurb in the program and watching the incredible performances. Now I can get that!
    Secondly I am very intrigued with the concept of connecting science to dance. As a primary teacher, I spend much of my time trying to integrate subjects and engage students in activities that will help them to see the connections across curriculum strands. Science and drama has always been a very easy fit for me but in a totally different way. I always thought of the processes

  2. Sorry, it stopped letting me add to that post or edit it, so I decided to publish and add here. Any way I was saying that I think of the ways science happens a

    Okay, something is wrong, every time I try to edit or reword something it freezes and lock me out. I will try again and then leave it. I just wanted to say how I saw how movement is a wonderful way to express the changes that take place in a scientific process but had not thought of it in terms of the process of creating the dance itself. What a unique connection. I am already envisioning how

    1. Nicole

      Thanks for persisting because this was so wonderful to read. You made the imaginative leaps flawlessly. I have loved working on this project for so many reasons, but how basic it is to how we could teach people to think across disciplines is one of my main motivations.



Dance outside the box here!