Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Dasein Dance Theatre comes to the CSA Nooner

On Wednesday, November 21, at 12pm, Dasein Dance Theatre brings their evocative work to the University Centre Courtyard, University of Guelph. Guelph Dance asks choreographer Lacey Smith how she developed the three pieces she is excerpting for this CSA Nooner, how she adapted them to perform in the Courtyard, and what’s up next for Dasein.

Lacey: The pieces we’re presenting for the CSA Nooner were all developed at different times between 2007 and 2012.  Each work has a life of its own and began with very different themes and questions in mind.  By revisiting each of these works in preparation for this show I have begun to recognize a unifying quality emerge.  A very strong sense of yearning is pulling through each of these works in various forms.  In Unframed Portraits the three women yearn to be heard and felt. In my solo, Unsettled Dust, I yearn for a lost loved one and in Emergence there is a paradoxical yearning for closeness/comfort and for independence.  As an artist it is refreshing to see that the sensation/emotion/experience of one idea can be explored in so many ways and reminds me how simple and complex we humans are.

Hannah Goldberg, Whitney Mah and Brandy Ostrosser perform Emergence. Photo: Lacey Smith 

At first the thought of performing these works in the University Centre made me think of all the potential problems with a space like this (the noise of a busy area, the hard floor surface).  Then I realized that this would be a good learning experience and challenge as a performer and choreographer.  Instead of the audience entering the performers’ space—as happens in a traditional theatre setting—we (the performers) will be entering into the audience’s space, an intriguing twist for performance artists. 

I chose to remount these works in their original state and not alter them for this space.  The audience will see the works as I have seen them throughout the creation and rehearsal periods, intimately and free of elements such as lighting.  Although I haven’t changed the choreography, I’ve been observing the pieces from three sides, as they will be seen at the University.  We’ve tried to consider our spacing more three dimensionally and have considered the range of our energy and experience within the work to prepare for this performance environment.

Sandra McCulloch performs Unframed Portraits. Photo: David Hou
Dance provides infinite possibilities to explore and dig into what we experience in our lives here on this earth.  Dance provides a never-ending opportunity to learn and share in a community of passionate and giving people and evokes things that are entwined deeply in our Being.  When I dance I am experiencing life with my whole self in that moment.

Lacey Smith performs Unsettled Dust. Photo: Caitlyn Vader

We will also be performing Emergence at Dance Ontario’s DanceWeekend in January.  Following, we will be presenting, FLUX 2013, a full evening of work by Andrea Nann and Lacey Smith in London on March 23rd at Palace Theatre.

You can follow Dasein on Facebook or Twitter to find out more about their upcoming events:

Lacey Smith is the founder and artistic director of Dasein Dance Theatre in London, Ontario, where she began her journey in dance over twenty-five years ago. After completing a BFA (Hons.) in Performance Dance at Ryerson University, Lacey created works for Dance Ontario’s Creative Partnership and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal’s First National Choreographic Competition. She is currently working on the creation of Eunoia with Fujiwara Dance Inventions in Toronto. She is an associate artist with pounds per square inch performance, under the direction of Gerry Trentham. In London, Lacey has produced two full-evening dance productions and frequently teaches and creates work for local youth. She is a co-founder of London Dance Collective, where she teaches open community classes and facilitates workshops. In 2011, she began a mentorship program for young dancers. 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Jennifer Mackie and Lynda Murray on Transforming Guelph Dance

Becoming Guelph Dance after being the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival for so long felt like a logical, straight-forward, and relatively easy transition—after all, we’d already expanded beyond the annual 4-day Festival to include all the elements now under the umbrella of Guelph Dance: our Training, Camps, Productions, In Schools workshops, and of course, the Festival. “Guelph Dance” as a brand was more inclusive and, frankly, way easier to say!

But, of course, change is never so easy. And this transformation involved the insight and direction of many, many people behind-the-scenes, including the formidable talents of strategic consultants Jennifer Mackie of Arrowood Consulting and Lynda Murray of Murray Marketing. We asked Jennifer and Lynda to weigh in on what went into the year-long preparation for this event.

Why is Guelph Dance important to Guelph and its community?
Jennifer: “Guelph Dance is a huge contributor to the performing arts segment. It’s great to be able to see the caliber of dance they provide during their annual festival. Guelph has a strong arts identity in the community with emphasis on music and visual arts. For very young dance students, they provide a future dream; for seasoned students and those at university, they provide an opportunity to continue with their enjoyment of dance whether actively dancing or being in the audience; for the career dancer, they also provide training or occasions to present.”

Lynda: Guelph Dance is “an extraordinary ‘stage’ for talented performers from across Canada to converge…[building] on our reputation for innovation and leadership in the performing arts forum.”

Why do you think the change from GCDF to Guelph Dance is so timely?
Lynda: “The organization has grown and evolved over the years and it’s time for the identity to be more reflective. The positioning is more current, expressive and all-inclusive, more adaptable to current social applications and everyday conversations.”

Jennifer: “Achieving the 15-year anniversary milestone is huge for any organization, especially in the performing arts—a branding review with obvious changes can safely happen to this mature and evolving organization. Changing the name speaks to what matters currently and captures how GCDF has evolved.” Jennifer adds, “What’s so interesting is that folks have been calling GCDF ‘Guelph Dance’ for brevity, so it makes great sense to move to this name.”

What role did you play in the change?
Jennifer: “I have provided strategic planning, organization design and board development support for GCDF since 2005. As Arrowood Consulting, we provided project management for the re-branding project, which included process work with staff and the board to revise their Mission, Vision and Mandate statements, [as well as] procurement of a marketing consultant and organizational design work with the General Manager [Catrina von Radecki].

Lynda: “Unleashing the true essence of the brand through both a discovery and strategic process” which she says “brought us to the Guelph Dance platform.” Lynda was an “objective partner” who “pushed the process to ensure all stakeholders were cared for, business objectives were met, and overall outcome was aligned with a strategic vision of the organization.”

Where would you like to see the city and Guelph Dance in the future?
Jennifer: “Because of the organizational strength within Guelph Dance, I would like to see them provide more visible leadership to the Guelph community at large, which continues to build its reputation as a festival and arts event destination. The culture of Guelph Dance is a wonderful fit and model for the arts community in Guelph and thus they can be a catalyst to how our culture evolves.”

Lynda: “There is such an overwhelming opportunity for Guelph to expand and further nurture its reputation as a leader and innovator in the arts and cultural sphere with the repertoire of talent and the national recognition that Guelph Dance has received on the national stage. It’s a natural collaboration and extension.”

Any final words about Guelph Dance as an organization?
Jennifer: “I continue to be impressed by all the staff, board and volunteers of this small organization. I love their energy, insight, commitment to professionalism, passion for contemporary dance, openness to learning and changing to assist the evolving nature of their program and offerings. They are a delight to be creative with and always follow up with what they say they intend to do. It also amazes me how they juggle many balls at once and fluidly and almost effortlessly incorporate work, home life and community engagement.”

Lynda says that she is relatively new to Guelph Dance, but “was quickly taken in by the passion and conviction of the organization to ‘push boundaries’ on all levels.” She adds that she was impressed with the organization’s “business strategy, diversified programming, community engagement, and the need and desire to continue to grow and evolve.”

Guelph Dance thanks Jennifer and Lynda for all their efforts and support!

Jennifer Mackie

Jennifer Mackie, MBA, is a high-energy, quick-start Organization Consultant. Her highly collaborative approach to initiating, planning and delivering results is not only successful, but impressive to clients. Jennifer's "can do" attitude is infectious and she inspires to embrace change. Her industry experience includes, healthcare, professional services, agriculture, insurance, technology, property development, financial services, education, not-for-profit organizations and board/executive environments.

Lynda Murray
Lynda Murray has extensive experience in building diverse and powerful brands, from the revitalization of a publicly traded snack food company to the refocusing of the green branding and sustainability for an environmental organization to the transformation of a national retailer. As a seasoned marketing communications strategist with over 20+ years of experience, Lynda brings a unique combination of business acumen, agency experience and proven leadership. She is recognized as an innovative visionary with an energetic and passionate management style that evokes engagement and delivers results.

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!