Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Embrace Adventure with Mocean Dance: Susanne & Lesandra's 3rd Festival

In the weeks leading up to Guelph Dance Festival 2014, some of the Festival artists will 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 and engage in conversation about dance in our comments section below. Embrace adventure with us in 2014!

Susanne Chui shares a bit about her experience working with choreographer Lesandra Dodson for the third time. Mocean Dance performs at On the Stage A on Friday, May 30 at 8pm at the Co-operators Hall of River Run Centre. Tickets are available now through the River Run Centre Box Office!

Susanne: In preparation for writing this blog post, I reflect that this is actually my third time performing in the Guelph Dance Festival, and each time it has been in work by Lesandra Dodson. I further reflect that each time Lesandra and I travelled to the Festival, we have been at very different stages in our lives, and in our work as dance artists. In fact, the Guelph Dance Festival has acted as a kind of marker in the ongoing flow of time.
Photo of Mocean Dance by Holly Crooks.

Susanne: Our first appearance at the Festival was 2003, when we performed the quartet Kuere, with TILT: sound + motion dance company, where I was a dancer, fresh out of the School of Toronto Dance Theatre, and Lesandra was choreographer-in-residence. The second time, in 2011, we presented a solo I commissioned from Lesandra, called Her blameless mystery.  By then, both Lesandra and I had moved from Toronto and were living out east, myself in Halifax, NS and Lesandra in Fredericton, NB. I had made the transition from being primarily a ‘for hire’ dancer in the ‘big city’ to a wearing the many hats of being an independent dance artist in a smaller city. Lesandra had kids and built a family life in New Brunswick, while becoming immersed in that community and continuing her choreographic practice.

Now in 2014, I am returning to the Festival as Artistic Director of Mocean Dance company, having made another big ‘move’ from independent dance life to running a company. Lesandra also took on a leadership position in her community, as Executive Director of the Charlotte Street Arts Centre.
Photo of Mocean Dance by Holly Crooks.
Susanne: Inasmuch as our lives have changed over the past 11 years since Sandy and I first came to Guelph, her choreographic work has also shifted, evolved, and changed with time. Over this period I have been in a fortunate position to sense this shift, literally through my body, by performing her work. So how has it changed? Well I would say that the biggest shift is a  ‘distilling towards the essential’. Where Kuere was highly physical, dense, fast paced, layered with text, the work we will be presenting this year, A leash for two hounds, is sparser, less ‘dancey’, more pared down. In creating this piece, Lesandra wanted to challenge herself to work within limits. The first was how to create a duet on a man and a woman that is not a traditional male-female “relationship.” The second was to not use text or video, two elements that were becoming common in her work, and played a large role in Her blameless mystery. The third was to use props, but also with the limitation of using them outside of their intended way. As she worked with Darryl and I, she further began to impose limitations, including the significant choice to have us face the back for almost the entire piece. The question then became what can be expressed when the face is taken away?
Photo of Mocean Dance by Lesandra Dodson.

Susanne: To me, these limitations are part of Lesandra’s search for the essential. She has always been a huge ‘editor’ of her material, she’s not the kind of person who is married to the movement: if it’s not speaking to her, it’s cut! (So much so that we joke that all her pieces end up only being 12 minutes long!) But I think this shift towards essentialism goes beyond editing. I think it speaks to a deeper desire that is surfacing in Lesandra. She appears to be at a stage in her life where less is more, where depth trumps breadth, where the ‘why’ is more important than the ‘what’. I see this in her life as well, having survived the amazing circus of independent dance life, raising a family, and running an arts centre, she is taking a step back and looking at what is essential to move forward. I’ve seen this shift in many of my peers and I’m starting to feel a pull in this direction as well. To me this is what makes following an artist’s work over the long term so exciting: you get to see the work evolve as a reflection of the evolution of the artist herself. I’m pleased be able to witness this process and be part its’ expression through dancing Lesandra’s work. I wonder if audiences in Guelph will remember the other two times we presented at the Festival, and if they too will experience this subtle shift. Looking forward to finding out!

See you soon,
Susanne Chui

Based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Mocean Dance is nationally recognized as a leading company from the Atlantic region. Led by Artistic Director Susanne Chui and Artistic Associate Sara Coffin, Mocean brings together artists to create, produce and tour exciting new work annually, collaborating with some of North America’s finest choreographers. Now in its thirteenth season, Mocean is committed to its home base in Nova Scotia, contributing to the province’s growing dance and arts community by providing opportunities for creation, performance, collaboration, development and education.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Embrace Adventure with Our Platinum Sponsors

As we gear up for the Festival this weekend, we would like to highlight our Platinum Sponsors, who have all contributed $5,000-$9,999 of support to our 2014 Embrace Adventure season. Intrigue Media, 1460 CJOY/106.1 Magic, and 93.3 CFRU have all been promoting the 2014 Festival, helping to make sure that you - our lovely and enthusiastic audience members - mark your calendars, buy your tickets for the Stage and Studio, and show up at the Park with picnics and sunscreen!

Did you see Festival footage in the waiting room at your doctor's office, while enjoying a pint at Bobby O'Brien's, or while in line for a table at Eggcetra? Intrigue Media has helped us engage you - our community members - year-round, by playing this snappy little video on "Intrigue TVs" across our great city! There is nothing better than clips of stunning performances to get you excited for the next year's line-up! Special thanks to Emma Rogers and Jeff Dale for their energy and ideas.

Do you remember hearing about our Arts Explosion March Break Camps or the action-packed Festival we have planned for you when you were in the cereal aisle at the grocery store or commuting into work? 1460 CJOY AM and 106.1 Magic FM have been recording and playing our ads for the last two Festivals, helping us to reach you in your homes and workplaces. We can't wait to see you at all of the Festival events with your family members and co-workers! Special thanks to Brenda Reid-Gibson for her enthusiasm and support.

Do you study in the Bullring, exercise at the Gryphons Athletic Centre, or work on the University of Guelph Campus? Our partnership with 93.3 CFRU has been helping to bring the University community and the wider Guelph community closer together over the last two years We look forward to seeing the friendly faces of University students and staff in the crowds next weekend! Special thanks to Heather Jarvis and Sophie Clark for the enthusiasm and insightful interviews.

All of us at Guelph Dance hope that you will follow in the footsteps of Intrigue Media, CJOY/Magic, and CFRU by Embracing Adventure with us from May 29-June 1!

Sincere thanks also go out to our Funders, Partners, and other Sponsors. We appreciate the unique relationship we have with each of you, and the varying contributions that you all make towards this exciting Festival weekend. On behalf of the Guelph community, thank you for making this "cultural jewel" possible.

2014 Festival Sponsor Board. Design by LINDdesign.
For more information on the 2014 Guelph Dance Festival, please see the full schedule here. If your business is interested in becoming a Sponsor, or if you would like to support us personally, please read up on all the ways to Support Dance!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Embrace Adventure with Katie Ewald & Lynette Segal: Spotlight on our Local Dance Artists

In the weeks leading up to Guelph Dance Festival 2014, some of the Festival artists will 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 and engage in conversation about dance in our comments section below. Embrace adventure with us in 2014!

Katie Ewald and Lynette Segal both share some of their story here. Both of them perform at Local Initiatives on Friday May 30 from 4-6pm, at Boarding House Arts, 6 Dublin Street South. Suggested donation $15, or pay-what-you-can. Wine and tasters provided by OX, beer provided by Wellington Brewery.

Lynette: The time I’ve carved aside to play with Steph Yates has become such a valuable, enriching part of my days. As a musical and visual artist, Steph has courageously stepped outside of her comfort zone, and literally stretched herself in ways she hasn't in many, many years. In the studio together, we've created movement sequences, both of us offering ideas we then play with; flip, reverse, slow down, speed-up, etc. She sees patterns, textures, and sound qualities that open up new dimensions to our explorations. When I've come with a sound concept, she inventively finds ways to create it. Steph is a sensitive, gifted and open-minded multi-disciplinary artist. This extremely positive creative process has provided a refreshing exposure to the collaborative dialogue between artists working in diverse fields. Now, back to work!

Photo of Lynette Segal and Steph Yates by Isabel Segal-Grossman. Artwork by Michaela Cruz.
Katie: Guelph. My groovy new home full of artist moms.

As an artist I have been lucky enough to live, go to school, and work in Europe; tour with Danielle Leveille Danse to festivals all over the world; establish my place in experimental dance company Public Recordings as a long time and much appreciated collaborator; and work with the lauded English theatre company Forced Entertainment early in my career.

I moved to Guelph because of pure gut feeling. I hadn’t really ever been here except to one day of Hillside in 2007 to watch my husband-to-be play music. I had heard a lot about the city from him, who spent his formative days in a rock band here. In 2010, pregnant and nauseous, I heard myself saying, “Let’s go to Guelph! There is an amazing music scene there and a DANCE FESTIVAL!”. It became a mantra of sorts in the days leading up to the big move from our life in Montreal. We came here, and 5 months later had a kid.

When I met Janet Johnson and Catrina von Radecki, I was so happy! They are sensitive, wise, curious, courageous dancer moms.  I am really inspired by them both and was immediately brought into the fold. My gut feeling was validated.  

Photo of Katie Ewald by Jacklyn Barber.
Katie: I am pleased to share this Local Initiatives show with Lynette Segal, another inspiring Guelph dancer mom, and the talented musician Steph Yates. The whole building will open its doors and the Arts Incubator studios will feature work by visual artist Adrienne Spier (yet another amazing artist mom!) in collaboration with Robert Kingsbury, a usual suspect in Guelph’s dance scene. Along side all of this, Capacity 3 Gallery, with the Festival of Moving Media, will be presenting a film by Tim Wilson.  This collaboration and cross-disciplinary mingling was exactly what I had hoped for our event.

When Catrina first mentioned the possibility of choosing the space I perform in for the Festival, I immediately thought of the Boarding House building. 
Disappearing Geography requires a strong architectural presence and this particular building has history and character. This piece is both an ode to the architecture that is present in the room and my negotiation of performing solo. Musagetes has very graciously given me permission to perform in their office space. It has that ‘je ne sais quoi’ that the most evocative spaces have. The second I walked into that room I wanted to do my dance there. I am very grateful for the support of Musagetes, and Danica Evering in particular, for taking a risk by showing this project in the place where they work.

Photo of Katie Ewald by Jacklyn Barber.
Katie: It makes me happy that we are engaging the whole Boarding House building with Local Initiatives, and that people will be investigating all kinds of spaces there. Architecture, its role and presence in our lives, has captivated me for a long time. I feel spaces and notice things. I like to just notice, and see if that noticing changes anything. I will be performing Disappearing Geography for the first time as a durational piece. It will be performed from 4pm-6pm, with Musagetes doors closing at 4:45, so you can move over to the Boarding House Gallery and see Echo. The doors will re-open after Lynette’s piece, and I will continue until 6pm.
It will be an intimate experience, as the number of people who can be in the Musagetes room will be limited. But I invite you to come, leave, come back. Have a glass of wine. Repeat.

Lynette Segal studied at Concordia and York Universities, Les Ateliers de Dance Moderne de Montreal, and The School of the Toronto Dance Theatre. Lynette has worked with Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, Dancer’s Studio West, One Yellow Rabbit, 502 Dance Lab, and Portal Dance Projects. In addition to independent solo work, she has been honoured by opportunities to work with Matt Brubeck, Barb Bryce, Ben Grossman, Susanna Hood, Karen Kaeja, Janet Johnson, Robert Kingsbury, Shannon Kingsbury, Susan Lee, Lisa Nelson, Sara Porter, Oliver Schroer, Georgia Simms, Sue Smith, Kelly Steadman, Rebecca Todd, Catrina Von Radecki, and Miranda Tufnell. She co-founded Fall on Your Feet, a movement collective which focuses on teaching and performing movement improvisation. Lynette has taught improvisation to children, youth, and adults and continues to be a busy Massage Therapist for nearly twenty years.

Steph Yates studied ballet in Hamilton under Catherine Samuel, who ruled over the class with a kind hand and wore her hair in a beehive updo. After dancing for two years, Yates abandoned her practice at the resolute age of 8. Now living in Guelph, a good deal more grown-up, she writes and plays music in several bands, one being Esther Grey, and carries on a visual art practice centred on print, mixed media, and stop-motion animation. Yates’ current artistic interests are pattern, imperfection, movement, shadow, and crossing boundaries.

Katie Ewald is a dance artist based in Guelph, Ontario. She received her BFA from Concordia University and studied at P.A.R.T.S. (Performing Arts Research and Training Studios) in Brussels. She has collaborated with choreographers Ame Henderson/Public Recordings, Martin Bélanger/LAPS, k.g. Guttman, Lin Snelling, Chanti Wadge, Janet Johnson/Portal Dance Projects, and worked with Daniel Léveillé Danse from 2005-2008. She performed with the experimental theatre company Forced Entertainment in The Voices from 2003-2005. In 2000, she was the only dancer nominated for The Canada Council for the Arts Fund for Future Generations Millennium Prize. She has taught dance workshops across Canada and is currently collaborating on a new duet with Toronto dance artist Mairead Filgate.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Embrace Adventure with Mix Mix Dance Collective: The Ladies of 'Jack Your Body'

In the weeks leading up to Guelph Dance Festival 2014, some of the Festival artists will 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 and engage in conversation about dance in our comments section below. Embrace adventure with us in 2014!

The ladies of Mix Mix Dance Collective's JACK YOUR BODY share some workshop footage so you know what to expect when you join them for a Public Workshop, Saturday, May 31 at 5:30pm at Dancetheatre David Earle Studio. Tickets available through River Run Centre, workshop designed for all levels. Once you learn some moves with Mix Mix Dance Collective, dance the night away with them at the After Party & Late Night Performance, a first for the Guelph Dance Festival!

Ashley & Emily: We will be teaching a mix of waacking, house and hip hop in the class. All of these dance styles are featured in JACK YOUR BODY. We love teaching these styles to people who have never tried them before because they get to know something new. These dances all have their own music and unique history. You will not just be learning how to dance, you will be learning the culture that comes with it. Each of the dancers in JACK YOUR BODY bring their own strenghs to the show and are always excited to share their knowledge. We can't wait to share this show with a new audience! We feel that JACK YOUR BODY is a show that most people can relate to. Most audience members will have seen some of these dances and heard some the music, perhaps not knowing how it all fits together or the social issues around them. We will help change that!

See you on the dancefloor!

Mix Mix Dance Collective was founded to represent diversity in movement, music, and art practice. The work of the Collective deals with issues of equality to challenge socially-constructed identities such as gender and race. Mix Mix Dance Collective is comprised of Emily Law and Ashley Perez, who joined together to create their first 60-minute work JACK YOUR BODY, for the 2013 Toronto Fringe Festival, and then for the 2014 Next Stage Theatre Festival. They are passionate practitioners, teachers, and students of many American street dance styles such as waacking, house, hip hop, and vogue, with a common interest in bringing street dance into a theatre setting.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Embrace Adventure with Deanne Bingleman: The Mad World of Cell Phones

In the weeks leading up to Guelph Dance Festival 2014, some of the Festival artists will 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 and engage in conversation about dance in our comments section below. Embrace adventure with us in 2014!

Deeanne Bingleman joins the Guelph Dance Festival for the first time with her Renaissance School of the Arts Dance Company, who will perform at Youth Moves, Sunday June 1 at 4pm. Tickets are available through the River Run Centre Box Office.

Deeanne: Sometimes things in life smack me in the face, and, in a positive way from an artistic perspective, haunt me until I create a dance about them to get them out of my system. Lo and behold Mad World. The constant bombardment of people allowing themselves to be interrupted by these gadgets, people checking them obsessively, walking into people, having car accidents from the "need" to text made me feel like I was the observer looking into a fish bowl of chaos. I failed to understand this need people have developed to be attached and observed quietly for a long while. 

Taxi drivers thanked me for talking to them. I finally asked one of my regular drivers about this new policy and he replied "it isn't a policy, it's just no one talks anymore, people get in the car, mumble addresses and then don't say a word for the rest of the ride because they have something in their hand they are working on etc." Then I started noticing that students become fatigued more quickly, and wondered what changed. They, too, were attached to the constant goings on in friends' and aquaintances' lives through these gadgets. Deep down the buzz of a "dance evolving" was coming on.  

The final moment that pushed me to actually start creating was being at the Conestoga Mall in the middle of the week, and the food court was packed at 11:00 am, which I thought felt weird for a non-holiday time. But even more weird was that I only heard the clangs of the food preparers. Despite the food court being packed, no one was talking. NO ONE! To this day it sends shivers down my spine. I knew Mad World was born.
The "Mad World" dancers in rehearsal.
Deeanne: I decided to set the dance on the dancers without the phones. They didn't know about the phones originally, they just knew there was a "twist" to the dance. Week after week, they excitedly came up with inventive guesses of what I was going to do to the dance but no one ever guessed phones. When we finally finished the dance and they were told the "twist" no one believed me, because I'm not wired up and still proudly own a flip phone. At first they were excited about the concept, and I think they still are, but over time we've also had reflections on what their own "Mad Worlds" are. It was eye-opening for me: despite the conveniences these gadgets bring, the dancers were also  saddened that things like parties, sleepovers, and just hanging out are forever changed by these things. Some have consciously tried to become less attached from their gadgets in pursuit of a real human experience. That is part of my goal with this dance: to see the connection of humanity through the ones that don't have a phone versus the things that are important for those with the gadgets. It is worrisome that children are becoming more attached to these objects than being a child and having a human interaction.
Renaissance School of the Arts dancers posing with their gadgets.
Deanne: I feel honoured to have students who, despite their world of gadgets, have been very receptive to this journey and we look forward to bringing it to fruition at GDF!

Deanne Bingleman’s life mission is to bring positive dance and drama experiences to as many people in as many nooks and crannies she can find or that find her. Deeanne earned her BA Dance from the University of Waterloo in 1995, is a Leading Edge KW Arts Award recipient 1998, and is one of two Canadians certified in the Maor Dance Workout 2013. Deeanne is the Artisitc Director of act OUT – a teaching theatre program in KW – and she has helped build the dance program at Renaissance School of the Arts. Deeanne is thrilled with the growth of these unique educational programs where she welcomes EVERY body.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Embrace Adventure with Claudia Moore: Dancing with Titanium Hips

In the weeks leading up to Guelph Dance Festival 2014, some of the Festival artists will 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 and engage in conversation about dance in our comments section below. Embrace adventure with us in 2014!

Claudia Moore shares a bit about her experience working with choreographer Susanna Hood. MOonhORsE Dance Theatre performs at In the Studio on Saturday, May 31 at 4pm and Sunday, June 1 at 2pm at the Dancetheatre David Earle Studio. Tickets are available now through the River Run Centre Box Office!
Claudia Moore in rehearsal for Beside You by Susanna Hood. Photo by Omer Yukseker.
Claudia: I’m excited to perform Beside You at the In the Studio series at GDF. I commissioned the work from Susanna Hood for my solo evening, Escape Artist, to celebrate my 60th birthday. It’s based on a poem by P. K. Page. Here is some writing I did on February 10, 2012, after my first creation week with Susanna: 

“Susanna began with improvisations in order to consider my abilities and our process together. What a wild ride for me. I was a bit discouraged after our first day. Improvising is difficult for me due to my physical limitations. I have titanium hips and can’t attack improvisations with the total abandon of my younger body. The tasks became arduous for the wrong reasons and I despaired. Luckily, my mentor, Tedd Robinson, always has words of wisdom for me. “Talk to her. Keep your emotions out of it, but be clear about your physical reality”. I did speak to Susanna and she understood exactly what I was going through; she sometimes struggles with recurring injuries. She adapted her process accordingly and we had a fruitful week together. I was swept away by Susanna’s process; her directions took me to new and profound places. On the final day she put the small pieces we had worked on together in a compelling 10 minute sequence. We are excited to continue.”
Photo of Claudia Moore by Tamara Romanchuk.
Claudia Moore, performer, curator and artistic director of MOonhORsE dance theatre, has been a force on the Canadian dance scene since the late 70’s. She founded MOonhORsE Dance Theatre in 1996 and continues to perform commissioned works through her company. Claudia's major performance projects include a full-evening duet work with performer Dan Wild, Dances in a Small Room (2009), choreographed by Tedd Robinson and James Kudelka, and a solo evening, Escape Artist (2013), choreographed by Paul-Andre Fortier, Susanna Hood, Christopher House and GADFLY (Apolonia Velasquez and Ofilio Portillo). Moore’s acclaimed series for senior and intergenerational dance artists, Older & Reckless, will celebrate its fifteenth season next year. Claudia was a resident artist at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 2008-2010, and has received the Jacqueline Lemieux award for excellence in dance.