Thursday, 23 February 2012

Lynette Segal on Working with Karen Kaeja

Members of Fall on Your Feet Collective are working with Karen Kaeja in the creation of a new piece commissioned by the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival for Women's Voices 2012.

Lynette: Gearing up to work with Karen came on the heels of spending a week in Toronto analyzing the mechanics of Kaeja Elevations, partnering work that Karen and Allen Kaeja developed over the last thirty years as part of their vast movement vocabulary—where contact improvisation and contemporary dance exquisitely coalesce.  

Rehearsal with Karen Kaeja

Despite the modest time-frame of roughly 32 hours to create a 15-minute piece with five dancers from Guelph's own Fall on Your Feet, the process is immensely creative and inspiring.  Imbuing moments of tender intimacy, as a mother to her child, or a daughter to her aging parent, Karen works her magic by continually remixing and adding her voice to the movement vocabulary derived from short phrases which the dancers created.  Solo, duet and group forms weave into the fabric of what will become Karen's choreographic contribution to Women's Voices

Over the many years I've known Karen, she has maintained her master status as one of the most articulate and captivating dance improvisers in Canada.  Working with her again has been an absolute honour and delight.  I am joined by champions Janet Johnson, Kelly Steadman, Georgia Simms, and Tanya Williams of Fall on Your Feet and gifted local music artists, Shannon Kingsbury and Sue Smith, in another wonderfully creative occasion in this vibrant community of ours.  Looking forward to seeing you there!

Thoroughly blessed by the tremendous community we call Guelph, Lynette Segal brought the founding members of Fall on Your Feet together to provide collaborative improvisational opportunities. Recently appointed treasurer for the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival and in her third year as a board member, Lynette has been informed by her work of 17 years as a Massage Therapist, and also volunteers for Hospice Wellington.  

On Thursday, March 8th, 2012, and in celebration of International Women’s Day, the Guelph Fab 5 is proud to present Women’s Voices. This fabulous event will take place at 7pm at John F. Ross, E.L. Fox Auditorium, 21 Meyer Drive, Guelph. Tickets can be purchased at the door and all proceeds will go to Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis. After the show, we invite you to join us for a reception.  

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Kelly Steadman for Women's Voices

Kelly: Its Wonderful Pictures In Light began as a quartet that I made using 4 senior company members for the Guelph Youth Dance Training Program. Yann Tiersen’s Comptine d’Un Autre Ete was an obvious music choice to me. I was immediately and immensely moved by it, and felt that it was a perfect fit for the emotional range I was to work with. These 4 youthful dancers were incredibly receptive to the movement ideas, and offered themselves genuinely in their interpretation of what I was asking them to do.  I wanted to give them the chance to relate to and interact with each other as well as with this stunning piece of music.  It was really their imprint that caused me to pursue developing it a little further. 

The following year I was asked to be the Co-Artistic Director for Royal City School of Ballet and Theatre Jazz Inc.’s tri-annual performance.  I was given the opportunity to create 10 pieces and couldn’t resist the chance to develop this one into an 8-dancer piece.  I decided to use some of the same movement sequences, but switched the music to Summer ’78, (also composed by Yann Tiersen). The structure of this song is refreshingly simple, and I clearly heard 8 voices blending into one, which fit wonderfully well with the vision I had in mind. 
Kelly Steadman and Robert Kingsbury. Photo by Dakota Burpee.
The concept was inspired by the video produced for this song.  It depicts a day in the life of a young woman in reverse. It sparked a daydream about the thoughts and images that flash at the passing of a person’s life—a sort of 8mm reel of poignant, or perhaps random moments. These might trigger feelings of regret, doubt, certainty, and I would hope... acceptance. The idea that most of the moments we re-experience at passing come from the time before we turn 25, and witnessing the power of influence the youthful dancers have on each other, seemed to make my simple vision seem relevant and honest. 

I used a lot of canon in this dance. To break it down, canon is a choreographic device in which movements introduced by one dancer are repeated exactly by subsequent dancers in turn.  My hope was this would help to depict the replaying of fragments of life images, but also to keep the flow of the piece going to reveal a single voice.  It seemed like a fun and level-appropriate task for the dancers as well! Perhaps I overused it.  It becomes predictable, but then again what’s more predictable than death? 

My wonderful father-in-law passed away in December. I like to imagine what he experienced as this happened. I look for it every time the dancers grace me with their dancing in this piece, which is something I’ve never told them. 

Kelly Steadman received her B.F.A in Dance from Ryerson University in 2003. She currently performs with Dancetheatre David Earle and local independent choreographers.  Kelly is a co-founder of Fall On Your Feet Dance Collective and currently teaches a variety of disciplines at the Guelph Youth Dance Training Program and Royal City School of Ballet Inc. 

On Thursday, March 8th, 2012, and in celebration of International Women’s Day, the Guelph Fab 5 is proud to present Women’s Voices. This fabulous event will take place at 7pm at John F. Ross, E.L. Fox Auditorium, 21 Meyer Drive, Guelph. Tickets can be purchased at the door and all proceeds will go to Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis. After the show, we invite you to join us for a reception. 

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Getting Ready to celebrate Women’s Voices

Janet: Women’s Voices is the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival’s way of doing our small part in honouring and celebrating women on International Women’s Day. It is an event that encourages a sense of solidarity amongst our community of vibrant women, women facing challenges, and those who come in support of this important day.  On a local note, it is our intention that Women's Voices not only acts as a medium for focus and support of women, but that all proceeds go to Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis.

This year we’re partnering with the Guelph Fab 5, five Guelph-centered performing arts festivals that are committed to enhancing our community and which share a core belief in innovation, that the arts can change the world, and that education is a fundamental activity.

People of all ages will be uplifted by the power of our community to come together and produce great moments of artistic expression, reveal poignant elements of humanity, and find great solidarity in shared effort.  

Women's Voices is for those who believe in the ever-necessary change that needs to occur all over the world for women seeking equality, safety, and expression.  It is a fantastic event for bringing this awareness to our community by means of artistic expression.

We are thrilled that this year we will be featuring not only dance but music and film.  The performers will range from 12-years-old to adult and beyond!  The featured artistic works will be:  Fall on Your Feet performing a new work by Toronto dance icon, Karen Kaeja;
Karen Kaeja. Photo by Ella Cooper
Guelph's dazzling Robert Kingsbury’s premiere of a brand new work with newly-arrived-to-Guelph-from-Montreal dancer, Katie Ewald;
Robert Kingsbury
and born-and-raised-in-Guelph dancer/choreographer/teacher Kelly Steadman who will mount a beautiful work with Guelph's finest youth dancers.  
Choreography by Kelly Steadman
The Hillside Festival will be featuring a youth musician from their Girls and Guitars series. The Guelph Jazz Festival has put forward clarinetist, Tilly Kooyman, and the Festival of Moving Media has offered up a film entitled "Flawed" for this event.  
Women's Voices is accessible for all those interested and hopes to encourage a multi-generational, eclectic group of eager community members keen on the colours and hues which depict the vast arena of women!

Women’s Voices will take place at 7pm at John F. Ross, E.L. Fox Auditorium, 21 Meyer Drive, Guelph. Tickets can be purchased at the door and all proceeds will go to Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis. After the show, we invite you to join us for a reception. 

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Richard Gorrie: The GCDF Through My Eyes

Richard Gorrie is president of the GCDF board. He has a theatrical background: as an academic he studied the history of theatre riots and as a performer he has toured coast-to-coast-to-coast. Currently, he researches and supports educational design, development and technology at the University of Guelph, as an associate director of the Centre for Open Learning and Educational Support.

Richard: Contemporary dance. I like to watch. And through the years, I've watched in different ways.

In the warren of theatre spaces where I worked in my twenties, in the wings or from the back of the house, I was able to peek in on rehearsals for the likes of the National Ballet School and Dancemakers (that's when I first fell in love with Peggy Baker). As a select and secret audience of one, I was mesmerized by the commitment and concentration of the dancers even when they thought no one was watching.

Karen Kaeja's Bird's Eye View; GCDF In the Park. Photo by Anuta Skrypnychenko

Sometime after that, I had my initial glimpse of the inimitable Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, following my wife Wendy (I'm sorry Peggy) as she collaborated and performed with Catrina in the first Festivals. Wonderful! I thought to myself as I watched with the rest of the audience.

A regular after that, I was soon enlisted to archive the Festival on vIdeo, a marathon endeavour which involved attending and taping pretty much every performance at every venue. While exhaustive, my view was a distant one, following wide to capture the sum of the piece. However, being inevitably at the back, I also took in the audience as well, noting their seeing and feeling. I experienced the totality of the dance, from stage to house to archived images.

Since becoming President of the GCDF Board, I have left the videography in hands more capable, though not more willing. Now I like to sit near the front, often in the very first row. Where I can see and feel the dancers' emotions up close. I love to be right at that liminal point where audience and performance meet, where watching becomes being.