Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Guelph Dance Festival 2013 Sneak Peek: Ritmo Flamenco


In the weeks leading up to Guelph Dance Festival 2013, some of the amazing dance artists who will perform at the Festival will also 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 or engage in conversation about dance in our comments section below. Welcome to our 15th anniversary year!

Choreographer Anjelica Scannura speaks with us today. Ritmo Flamenco performs at our In the Park series on Thursday May 30, 7pm, and Saturday, June 1 and Sunday June 2, at noon, Exhibition Park. Pay-what-you-can (suggested donation: $15).

Anjelica: My company—Ritmo Flamenco—and I have been excited by the challenges that face us for our upcoming performances that are a part of the In The Park series at the highly-anticipated Guelph Dance Festival.  It will be a thrill to dance for the vast audience that the In The Park series attracts.
Ritmo Flamenco. Photo: Peter Lear
I’m changing some of the choreography to capitalize on the outdoor setting.  The three dancers will strive to achieve a bolder approach, capitalizing on the audience’s close proximity.  Because of the piece being stripped through removing the fourth wall, it will be more emotional for audience and dancer.
 
Ritmo Flamenco. Photo: Peter Lear
Outside of the sometimes inhibiting settings of performing on a stage with theatrical lighting, the choreography will flourish in all of its splendor.  The relationships between the dancers will be raw, and it’ll be a refreshing experience as a dancer and choreographer to work in a boundless and natural environment.  
 
Ritmo Flamenco. Photo: Peter Lear
Anjelica Scannura has been dancing her whole life, as her parents Valerie and Roger Scannura are founders of one of Canada’s most preeminent flamenco companies, Ritmo Flamenco. She has been travelling to Spain since she was young to absorb the nuances of authentic flamenco. A recipient of the Chalmers Award in 2011 and the Paula Citron FRESH BLOOD award winnder for 2012, she has built an impressive repertoire of solo works and ensemble pieces. She is looking forward to premiering a new show for Harbourfront’s NextSteps 2013/14 season. Paula Citron from the Globe and Mail stated, “Scannura is developing her own hybrid and she is truly a representative of Canadian dance.” 



Thursday, 23 May 2013

Guelph Dance Festival 2013 Sneak Peek: 605 Collective


In the weeks leading up to Guelph Dance Festival 2013, some of the amazing dance artists who will perform at the Festival will also 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 or engage in conversation about dance in our comments section below. Welcome to our 15th anniversary year!

605 Collective offers us a dialogue between choreographer Dana Gingras and Collective member and dancer Josh Martin who discuss the piece they will present at our On the Stage A performance on Friday, May 31, 8pm, at the River Run Centre. Gala and Talkback session to follow. Book your tickets now!

605 Collective also performs at our In the Park series.

Photo: Yannick Grandmont

Dana and Josh:

Humans are filled with beautiful beasts, our world is constantly teaching us tricks that repress and tame their natures. There’s freedom, dignity, fierceness and courage in allowing these animals back, to allow them their full physical expression. ––Dana Gingras

New Animal is 605’s first commissioned piece, by Dana Gingras (Holy Body Tattoo, Animals of Distinction), built over three years and between two cities. The initial research began in 2009 and was continued through smaller processes either in Vancouver or Montréal until the work had its world premiere at The Cultch in Vancouver in February 2012.

New Animal’s excerpt performance at this year’s festival makes Guelph the first city to receive the work after its premiere, with a Canadian tour coming up in Fall 2013.

"605 Run". Photo by Rob Sondergaard
About the work

Dana: As my work at studying human movement has deepened over the past few years, I’ve developed a fascination for what’s both common with and what separates us from our animal ancestors. Theses animals are still inside of us; in our needs for territory, in fear responses rooted in survival, in the fight or flight, in the need for food, in our often unresolved needs for the limbic bliss of the pack-mind. But in us, these drives are repressed by our daily actions, social codes, and restrictions inherent in living on a vastly over-crowded planet; these powerful, defining instincts become awkward, twisted and neurotic. Instead of focusing on how these animals inside of us are tamed, ritualized & socialized, the work looks into our bodies and our lives to see where the animal cracks through to express itself most directly and profoundly: the places where we mate, where we play, where we break, where we survive. The theme of the piece is this: where the animal still speaks through us, in its least neurotic form. Where it has a voice, or rather, where it takes over ours.
"605 Run". Photo by Rob Sondergaard
How the Commission came to be

Josh: This project actually began more than three years ago, just as 605 Collective was getting started. We were beginning to make more work together, which, in its early phases, was really based on our desire for peer-to-peer professional development. Work aside, it was clear that the more experience and diversity of backgrounds we had with us in the studio, the more these creative sessions were becoming personal learning experiences, expanding our practice as both individual artists and as a collaborative team. With this mindset, we then imagined how fantastic it would be to bring an inspiring established choreographer into this same environment we had created for ourselves, so we could all have a common experience of their creative process, their methods and artistic choices. The idea was that we could all reference and grow from this encounter, and, regardless of the outcome, apply whatever we had taken in to our future art-making. We really didn’t care what the piece was or even if it was performed. We just wanted face-to-face inspiration, and to learn through building something together, rather than being taught.

Dana turned out to be the most generous and thoughtful person we could imagine. She really went above and beyond what we could have ever asked from her in terms of her support and investment, in this project, and in us as young artists.
"605 Run". Photo by Rob Sondergaard
How the work was created

Dana: In order to explore this theme, we began developing movement based on extreme states of human experience—the places in our lives where the animal voice can emerge. We started with research into these places, by reading survival manuals for things like bear or shark attacks. We did research on people’s physical responses to crises like earthquakes, floods, etc. We looked at this research to find the way the body worked when the rational mind was overwhelmed by the animal world, or by forces of nature. Through improvising a movement vocabulary with the collective based on this material, we started to enunciate the way our own animals moved, through and against us. During this part of the process, it became quickly evident that the phenomenal prowess and professionalism of the dancers quickly repressed the animals all over again! Their skill with the movement quickly dominated the language we were developing and made the movements beautiful, disciplined, full of rigour, but all-too-human.

We solved this problem by complicating the movement to the point where it nudged against the dancer’s limits. We layered complicated tasks overtop of the established movement; doubled vocabularies on top of each other. We did this to create challenges that would push the dancers into a place that was at the absolute limit of their skills, a place of near impossibility, with a vocabulary individual to each dancer. I wanted the actual demands of the movement to bring out the survival impulse, and to give the animal inside of these highly skilled, virtuosic movers a chance to break through.
Photo: Yannick Grandmont

Why lemons?

Dana: The lemons were a very powerful device to work with, in terms of bringing out unconscious reactions and visceral responses. Imagine biting into a lemon, for example. Simply thinking of this will cause your lips to tighten, and your saliva glands to react, completely uncontrollably and unconsciously. It’s a very visceral fruit, and pretty overwhelming to tear into. As well, lemon juice is extremely acidic, more even than vinegar. It burns pretty relentlessly, and causes real physical damage to the mouth and the skin. In research with the lemons I wound up damaging my face so badly I developed skin problems that lasted for almost a full year! So having the dancers work with the lemons provided a really interesting way to compromise their bodies into evoking involuntary animal responses. In the videos we created, we slowed down the frame-rate, which powerfully draws the pain and intensity of the involuntary physical response to the acid.

Here, the animal emerges, in its full glory!

Across the entire body of my work as a whole, I’ve always embraced imbalance and risk; in New Animal, 605′s sheer athletic power, skill, and commitment have allowed this exploration to go very deep.


605 Collective is a Vancouver-based company dedicated to producing new dance work through a shared creative process. As part of a new generation of creators, 605 places emphasis on movement innovation to create physically demanding works derived from the human experience, valuing collaboration as a tool for new directions in dance.

In the past 20 years, Dana Gingras has established herself as a boundary-pushing choreographer and performer. She is the artistic director of Animals of Distinction, a multi-media dance company established in 2006, and was also co-founder of wildly acclaimed The Holy Body Tattoo. Dana is an Associate Dance Artist of Canada’s National Arts Centre.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Guelph Dance Festival 2013 Sneak Peek: Mayday

In the weeks leading up to Guelph Dance Festival 2013, some of the amazing dance artists who will perform at the Festival will also 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 or engage in conversation about dance in our comments section below. Welcome to our 15th anniversary year!

Mélanie Demers, choreographer and founder of Mayday, offers us a French-language video interview that examines the major creative forces behind her work, featuring Junkyard/Paradise and other pieces. Mayday presents at our On the Stage B performance on Saturday, June 1, 8pm, at the River Run Centre. Talkback session to follow. Book your tickets now!

Mélanie: Choosing choreography as a career is a really reckless statement. It's not dangerous but it's delicate. In my case, it only allows me to create through other people's bodies. It gives a strange sense of power while surrendering most of my views to other people sensibility. After 5 years at the head of Mayday, I was given the chance to reflect upon the path behind and the road ahead. Followed and interviewed by director Xavier Curnillon, during a few stepping stones in the last few years, I got to reveal the motivations behind the need to move and to make other people move. The Mayday crew is formed by a group of committed artists and most of my inspirations come from and is embodied through their highly articulated body intelligence. And with them, Mayday becomes something that goes beyond my only preoccupations, trying to grasp the era and the society in which we live in. In a way, dance, for me, is a genuine attempt to propel us further in the perpetual movement of life.


Since its creation in 2007 by Mélanie Demers, Mayday has been a place of creation and reflection where physicality and poetry are characteristic elements of her singular works and testimony to her concerns for contemporary issues. Well-known for sensible, political, and poetic pieces, Mayday presents works across North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. 

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Guelph Dance Festival 2013 Sneak Peek: Pamela Tzeng

In the weeks leading up to Guelph Dance Festival 2013, some of the amazing dance artists who will perform at the Festival will also 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 or engage in conversation about dance in our comments section below. Welcome to our 15th anniversary year!

Pamela Tzeng presents at our In the Studio series on Saturday, June 1 and Sunday June 2, 2pm, at Dancetheatre David Earle, 42 Quebec Street. She shares her experience with us here:

Pamela:  I remember at the very beginning of the creative process for I do not and I do, I spent almost an entire three-hour rehearsal peering through my camera, click click clicking away, capturing images of my partner and collaborator Jason Owin Galeos.  From this impromptu photo session came an array of faceless portraits and sculptural shapes that were used as departures for much of our physical research.  

Jason Owin Galeos. Photo by Pamela Tzeng

Inspiration for this duet grew from my visit to La Musées Royal des Beaux Arts de Belgique while in Brussels over the spring of last year.  An afternoon spent observing and reflecting on the work of surrealist artist Renee Magritte sparked for me a new curiosity in faceless anonymity, uncanny juxtapositions and disjointed figures.
Les Amants by Renee Magritte
Months later, my mind remained flooded with surrealist imagery, in particular shrouded faces of both individuals and lovers. Striking paintings like Magritte’s Les Amants roused questions in myself about the conscious and unconscious masking of one’s identity. The protective layers one wears that lead to isolation and emotional distance from others and the recognition that even in our most intimate relationships there are aspects of the self that remain concealed; fearful of the vulnerability of being truly seen.  These ideas complemented by Pablo Neruda’s Sonnet No. XLIV were the principle seeds for the creation of this duet.
I do not and I do. Photo by Tim Nguyen.
It’s been interesting delving back into the world of this dance theatre piece.  Evolved from such specific emotional ideas and introspective investigations, I feel the piece really needed the time given since its premiere to breathe and settle in our minds and bodies.  Returning to it now with fresh eyes and objectivity has enabled me to refine and add more depth to the composition as well as our interpretation of the work.

The following video, made especially for you, was crafted from footage of recent rehearsals for the remount of I do not and I do. I hope this provides a glimpse into the piece, leaving a little mystery and intrigue for what is to come In the Studio.



I do not and I do (in rehearsal) from Pamela Tzeng on Vimeo.
Video by Pamela Tzeng
  
I do not and I do premiered in September of 2012 at the Annual Alberta Dance Festival in Calgary, AB.  It was created with the support of Dancers' Studio West and mentorship from Davida Monk.

Pamela Tzeng is a contemporary dance artist currently based in Calgary, Alberta. Her creations live in the realm of dance theatre where abstract and non-linear narratives depict her interest in the complexities of identity and relationship. Combining articulate expression with the interplay of spontaneous physicality she aims to create dance that is visceral and emotionally evocative.  In addition to developing work focused on dance for the stage, interdisciplinary and site-specific performance represent an ever-evolving aspect her craft.




Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Behind the Scenes at Guelph Dance: A Stage Manager’s Story


In the weeks leading up to the GuelphDance Festival, the Guelph Dance blog is showcasing intimate glimpses into the artist’s process. We also recognize that none of the artistry on stage could happen without a dedicated and talented team backstage. Today, we introduce you to Dorothy Fisher, our valued and trusted stage manager. Thanks, Dorothy—we couldn’t do it without you!

Dorothy: The Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival is 15 years old!  “Happy Birthday”.  Due to the vision, sheer drive and desire to see dance in their own backyard, two young women gave birth to a festival for contemporary dance. Fifteen years later, Catrina and Janet ‘s baby has transformed into a lovely, sophisticated teenager called Guelph Dance. 

It has been a privilege and a delight to watch this evolution even though it has been done in the  “black”. As stage manager for On the Stage and Youth Moves, I have had the opportunity to work with many talented choreographers and dancers. Their passion and dedication to the art form is a most enriching experience. The privilege of watching Peggy Baker exhibit her incredible talent up close or Denise Fujiwara transform from a youth to a woman of old age is spell binding, even from the wings.

Meanwhile, the Youth Moves dancers, 18 and under, show a wonderful, professional demeanor—a credit to their passion, their teachers, and their training. Their enthusiasm and responsible attitude make my job so easy and my love of working with youth so satisfying.

Along the way, the technical challenges are always interesting. How much time will it take to set a birdcage in position so that when it is flown in it will be in exactly the right spot for the dancer to access? How much time will it take to determine the specific height and placement of those Japanese lanterns? Oh yes, and what about those feathers that need the perfect lift as a floor fan provides the air!

Then there is the white dance mat that had the entire crew scrubbing away the scuffmarks with magic erasers. The logistics for installing a full sheet of heavy plastic downstage to act as a shower curtain was particularly challenging. However, after much agonizing, the final product was extremely satisfying and a thing of beauty.  In addition, I still remember gingerly striking egg yolks from the stage without breaking the yolks.  I could go on, but I don’t want to give away all the fun!

As this year’s festival is fast approaching, I feel the anticipation and energy building. “Let’s make some Magic”.  I can’t think of a better place to be than in the “black”.


Dorothy Fisher is a dedicated arts advocate, administrator, volunteer and occasional stage manager.  She has extensive experience in board governance, fundraising and theatre production.  She enjoys working with Guelph Dance, Guelph Arts Council, River Run Centre, Guelph Symphony Orchestra and Guelph Chamber Choir.  Dorothy feels particularly fortunate to be involved with Guelph Dance for so many years.

In honour of Dorothy and the inimitable backstage team, the following is a personal note from Guelph Dance Festival Co-Artistic Director, Catrina von Radecki:

Catrina: Dorothy Fisher has been the Stage Manager for Guelph Dance since its inception in 1998.  We don’t even know what the dance festival would be like without her—and Taras Cymbalisty, our lighting designer who has also been with the festival from the beginning.  They are an incredible team, which we rely upon, trust, and respect and about which festival artists continually have great things to say. Thank you, Dorothy and Taras, for always being there behind the scenes, for doing your very best to meet everyone’s needs when there is so much going on during the festival weekend, and for being there again this year!  Happy 15th anniversary year to you too! Thank you also to Jill Grantmeyer who has been at Dorothy’s side over the years as the Assistant Stage Manager. Many of you know Jill from the River Run Centre box office, yet she still finds time to steal away and volunteer for the festival. Truly incredible!

Do you want to be involved backstage?  We offer mentorship opportunities with these incredible people—just let us know if you wish to be involved!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Guelph Dance Festival 2013 Sneak Peek: Parts+Labour_Danse

In the weeks leading up to Guelph Dance Festival 2013, some of the amazing dance artists who will perform at the Festival will also 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 or engage in conversation about dance in our comments section below. Welcome to our 15th anniversary year!

Choreographers David Albert-Toth and Emily Gualtieri join us today. Their company, Parts+Labour_Danse performs at our In the Park series on Thursday May 30, 7pm, and Saturday, June 1 and Sunday June 2, at noon, Exhibition Park. Pay-what-you-can (suggested donation: $15).

David and Emily:

“Realism (...) falls short of reality. It shrinks it, attenuates it, falsifies it; it does not take into account our basic truths and our fundamental obsessions: love, death, astonishment. It presents man in a reduced and estranged perspective. Truth is in our dreams, in the imagination.” – Eugene Ionesco

 In Mixed Company (Caroline Gravel, Milan Panet-Gigon, Jody Hegel, Andrew Turner). Photo by David Vilder. 
We had been working together for a few years prior to starting Parts+Labour_Danse. Despite coming from what some would call opposite ends of the spectrum – David comes from an urban dance background while Emily underwent extensive classical training – we quickly saw that within the sphere of contemporary dance, we spoke the same language, sought to express similar ideas, and aimed to create work of a similar nature. We had in fact long since abandoned the stylistic confines of our previous dance training in favour of a more liberated approach to movement creation, nurtured during our time at Concordia University’s contemporary dance department. Instead of putting contrasting dance styles on stage, we’ve always been more so inspired by the idea of using the different qualities of our past training to feed new and exciting ways of moving, and that this could allow us to focus more on what we chose to say with our movement.
 
In Mixed Company. Photo by David Vilder
Our new work, In Mixed Company, is our first full-length work under the Parts+Labour_Danse banner. Having long since been supported by the Guelph Dance team, we were keen on premiering an excerpt of our new work at this year’s festival. They have seen us grow over the last few years, and we thought it would be exciting to focus on the more physically driven aspects of our work thus far with a tailor-made piece for the park. We’re thrilled to be bringing our team of dancers and creative collaborators to Guelph Dance this year: Jody Hegel, Milan Panet-Gigon, Caroline Gravel, and Lael Stellick, who have brought a passionate investment and artistry to the work; we feel fortunate to have such a great team working with us on this project.

In developing the concepts that we’re exploring with In Mixed Company, we became very inspired by the works of Theatre of the Absurd playwright Eugene Ionesco and novelist Milan Kundera, who each explore the absurd nature of the contemporary human condition in unique, yet complimentary, ways. Ionesco’s approach is rash; he throws it in your face and you have to deal with it. His work is unsettling and jarring. It punctuates the emptiness of the fabricated lives we lead. The at-once tragic and subtle beauty doesn’t lie so much in the work itself but in the reflection that follows a reading or performance. Kundera, on the other hand, is more romantic in his approach. His stories twist and turn around each other in a dizzying, non-linear way, squeezing meaning out of each other as his novels progress. His characters are hopeless idealists trapped in a world working against them. He orchestrates situations that are at once starkly real, and cold, and yet in which there is poetry and beauty to be found. Dreams, transcendence, and love live side-by-side with totalitarian terror, death, and social paranoia.

Both of these authors are present in our work. For the excerpt we’ll be bringing to Guelph, Litost Lost, we wanted to focus less on emotional dissonance, and more so on the beautiful battle to overcome that hardship. What comes from spitting in the face of solitude, in viscerally and violently reaching out to form deep bonds with others, and in asserting yourself and your desires in a world that quite frankly doesn’t give a damn?
 
In Mixed Company. Photo by David Vilder.
Parts+Labour_Danse is a Montreal-based contemporary dance company founded in 2011 by co-artistic directors David Albert-Toth and Emily Gualtieri. The company’s mandate is to create engaging contemporary dance works that dive unapologetically into the rich moral complexities of the human condition, with physical dynamism anchored in genuine presence. Working with a unique theatricality and a movement vocabulary that viscerally fuses classical, urban, and contemporary movement approaches, the choreographic duo sees dance as a tool with which to deeply explore the rich intricacies of the human condition and as a way to move its audience. Their work has been presented throughout Quebec and Ontario, and in New York City. partsandlabourdanse.com