Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The GCDF becomes Guelph Dance!


Yes, we’ve changed our name from Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival to Guelph Dance! We talk here with Catrina von Radecki and Janet Johnson, co-founders and co-artistic directors of Guelph Dance, to find out the whys and hows, and also the “what’s next”.

Catrina: For several years now when I spoke to people about the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, I’d have to let them know that we weren’t only the 4-day festival, but actually have many other events throughout the year.  We have the camps, the workshops-in-schools, we have productions and co-productions, we do training for youth and adults. What we offer has been building every year! We began to realize that our name no longer reflected our whole organization and the work we currently do. 

Kinesis Dance Somatheatro at the GCDF 2012. Photo by Jamie MacDonald.

Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival is also a mouthful, and therefore many people already shorten the name and refer to us as the “Guelph Dance Festival”.  Guelph Dance was then chosen as an umbrella brand for the whole organization’s activities, and our individual activities are now labeled by sub-brands:  Guelph Dance Camps, Guelph Dance In Schools, Guelph Dance Productions, Guelph Dance Training and, of course, the Guelph Dance Festival. We can now talk clearly about either our whole organization or the individual programs. The public will now clearly see that, for instance, the Arts Explosion Camps, are put on by the same people who run the festival! We hope that this new name change will enable the public to clearly link all we do back to our organization and see this programming as a whole rather than disparate parts. 

As it is also our 15th anniversary, we felt the time was ripe for our name to catch up to the program development we’ve made over the past 15 years.

Janet: I don't think the new name change will inherently change the festival.  The name for me opens up possibilities and avenues, and creates a greater sense of inclusion and celebration of all the great dance creations and endeavours going on in our community.  I hope the new name adds clarity and thus more interaction with our public.

Catrina: I’m fairly confident that the rebranding transition will be smooth. As I mentioned earlier, people do already call us Guelph Dance Festival, and I think by adding our slogan—15 years—the public will realize that this is not a new organization in town. They will quickly relate this new name to what used to be the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival.  I also think people will really appreciate that it’s easier to say!
Kaeja d'Dance at the GCDF 2012. Photo by Jamie MacDonald.

Janet: I’m excited about where we’ll be going next.  Just trying to keep a pulse on the direction will be dictated by what’s brewing in the Guelph Dance scene as well as by the greater Guelph community and Canadian dance population.  I love being part of something that is as fluid and malleable as Guelph Dance.  It gives us the ability to morph and respond as our community dictates.  It’s an exciting time, a new time, a time to reflect and react, a time to create new ways to view, partake and be moved by dance.

Catrina: Along with the rebranding, we’ve made many internal organizational changes.  These developments will increase our capacity to grow and flourish within each of the separate components that we offer, as well as to better fulfill our overall mandate (see our website for our mandate).

Our focus can now expand to include more artist creation support, artists’ residencies and commissioning, and co-productions with the Guelph Fab 5.  We’re extremely excited to offer more support to our burgeoning local dance community.  That was after all, our initial dream—that artists could live, and dance professionally outside a major metropolitan area.  Dancers are living in Guelph and have a very receptive audience to share their works with.  Now that dancers are living here and have an audience and places to train, we want to attract more artists and continue to build more audiences, and we want to support innovative, cutting-edge, new creations to inspire our community and beyond.
Guelph Dance Arts Explosion Camps for students 4-19

Janet: In relation to what’s cooking in the Guelph Dance scene, I see more local dancer-driven direction: the creation and celebration thereof.  I see more collaborations between fantastic local dance artists and the bevy of stellar other artists in the community.  I see more community engagement and activism coming our way through the medium of dance.

I see presenting heftier, more challenging works from across the nation (and periodically from abroad) in the future.  Our audience is so developed, intelligent and open, we want to keep them stimulated and challenged.  I see more facility for new audience members to become involved, either through the viewing of dance or through hands-on training (workshops and camps, etc.)

I see Guelph Dance as a continuing means to build community, strengthen our connection to our creative selves, and provide rich artistic experiences. 

Mark your calendars for our Guelph Dance launch New Year's Eve Party (details to follow)! Check our brand new website for details on upcoming Guelph Dance events and the Guelph Dance Festival lineup announcement on April 2, 2013. And join us here on the blog as we share our stories every week through to next July!

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