Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Coming to Love Contemporary Dance - in Three Minutes!

This month's post is by guest blogger musician Bry Webb, writing about how he came to love contemporary dance. Give it a read....then go see the show he's talking about: Short & Sweet, part of Kazoo Fest 2016, Friday, April 8, 10:30 pm at The Making Box, 40 Baker Street, Guelph.

Why Short & Sweet Rules by Bry Webb

I know something about contemporary dance.

For some reason, that fact distinguishes me from a fair amount of people.  Dance as performance is a thing that relatively few get to see, compared to other contemporary art forms, like documentary films on the Earth being doomed and/or messages drawn on the back windows of unwashed cars.  Even the automated installations of Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller, or Claire Rojas’ subversive street abstractions, stay in place long enough for an audience to gather.  Contemporary dance, due largely to the fact that it’s underfunded, misunderstood in mainstream culture, and rarely covered in media outlets with substantial circulation, is kind of hard to catch, in an era when pretty much everything comes to you.

I take no credit for knowing something about this art form.  When I lived in Montreal, I met a person who had spent her life studying, contributing to, and challenging the conventions of the medium, and she took me to see many of the best, and some of the worst, performances I’ve ever seen, in a city that is unquestionably the mecca for this kind of art in Canada.  Through her, I had a leg up towards catching what was really happening in contemporary dance, and feeling that it was approachable for a music-loving, music-obsessed music nerd. 

One of the key events that helped me figure out what I loved about contemporary dance was the perennial celebration, Short & Sweet, invented and curated by the go-getters at Wants & Needs Danse.   For one night only, Short & Sweet collects as many of the dance community’s current geniuses as possible, and asks them to do whatever they can with THREE MINUTES. Lighting, a stage, and an audience are provided, and choreographers/performers make their most concise, immediate, and/or purposefully chaotic efforts to engage and often redefine the space.  It’s playful, eccentric, frantic but focused, and for people like me, it offers a window to an art form that seemed sometimes too hidden or self-contained to dive fully into.  The quality and range of work that this event invites is completely inspiring.  After every Short & Sweet celebration I attended, I walked away with a new awareness of what might be possible inside of three minutes.  I laughed, I cried.  The creative atmosphere of these proceedings stays with you for a long while.

I’m very happy that the person who introduced me to Short & Sweet, and contemporary dance at large, is introducing this completely unique event to Guelph as part of Kazoofest 2016. It’s a testament to Kazoofest’s role as one of the most vital arts outlets in this area. Big thanks to Guelph Dance and Katie Ewald for bringing it to us.

We hope this whets your appetite for our upcoming 18th Annual Guelph Dance Festival - June 2-5, 2016!

Monday, 7 March 2016

Why I Love Guelph Dance

This month, guest blogger Michelle Miller, shares with us why she loves Guelph Dance. Michelle serves as the Vice President of Guelph Dance's Board of Directors, and she is one of our biggest champions!

I have been one of Guelph Dance’s biggest cheerleaders since its inception almost 20 years ago, when performances were presented in a church basement. I was so thrilled to be able to see live dance in my hometown. And thrilled that there was an audience of people yearning to see and experience dance and performance that was a little more on the edge. I had studied theatre at the University of Guelph, and unfortunately never quite found my footing in a community of like-minded theater people here. The interest in dance in the community seemed promising. Soon, the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival came into being, and I became one of GD’s most loyal audience members. I shouted from the rooftops; I gathered my friends; I rallied my family to come out and support each and every festival.

Years later I became a board member and began to get an inside view of just how much work it takes to mount the Festival year after year! It is done by total hard work and devotion by the staff, board, and many volunteers that gather at festival time. What has been amazing during the six years that I have been on the board is the dedication that Guelph Dance members and founders have to restructure the organization to keep the Festival moving forward and upward. After 17 years, Guelph Dance has strength and vitality. Those involved have a wonderful spirit and incredible stamina that I find very inspiring. I am honoured to be a part of this organization.

I devote my time to Guelph Dance because we continually talk about pushing boundaries, of trying new ways to reach audiences and engage them. I love that we create opportunities for national and international artists and at the same time support all of our excellent local talent as well. I love that each year the Festival brings something totally different. It keeps me on my toes! That’s exciting. And it keeps me coming back for more.

Let us know why YOU love Guelph Dance! Go ahead and post it directly to our Facebook page!

Michelle is a jeweller by trade. Check out her cool loops and swirls at www.mimijewellery.com.