Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Festival Artist Spotlight: Swashbuckling Fun with Frog in Hand

This week's Artist Spotlight blog is guest-authored by Colleen Snell, artistic director of Frog in Hand. The company performs its new work Dragon in the In the Park series, at Exhibition Park on Thursday, June 2nd, 7 pm; Saturday, June 4th, 12 pm; and Sunday, June 5th, 12 pm; and at our new park location, Hanlon Creek Park, on Friday, June 3rd, 5:30 pm.

Frog in Hand is a multidisciplinary and site-specific performance company based in Mississauga, Ontario. We mix dance and theatre with visual art, costume and design. Last year we performed our 1920s inspired piece,
Café Noisette, for the In the Park series with the Guelph Dance Festival. This year we are thrilled to return with another exciting production, Dragon.

The Production
Dragon is the timeless story of two knights on a quest to slay a dragon, yet it is no traditional fight between good and evil. When these knights find their dragon, they do not encounter the beast they expect. After a struggle, they learn the consequences of their violent acts; they redefine the meaning of courage and realize the redemptive power of empathy. Our production is an epic legend blending swordplay with dance, magnificent costumes and immersive set design. Damian Norman (dancer, actor), Colleen Snell (dancer, certified actor combatant) and Andy Ingram (certified actor combatant and fight director) bring this tale to life while Joe Pagnan (lighting/set designer) and Noelle Hamlyn (textile artist, costume designer) construct and design the visuals. 

The plot of our production is simple, yet deeper metaphors lie beneath this recognizable exterior. Dragon manipulates a traditional legend as a way of studying greed, humanity’s strained relationship with nature, the power of movement to cross borders between cultures and the overarching importance of myth and archetype in defining a collective human identity. Oh – this is of course in addition to swashbuckling fun, breathtaking feats of physical prowess and spine tingling thrills.

The Process
Dragon was created for the Off the Wall project, a multi-arts event Frog in Hand organized in collaboration with the Living Arts Centre and the Art Gallery of Mississauga. Off the Wall 2015 involved twenty-three artists of all disciplines who worked in five teams to create original, site-specific performances. While Damian, Joe, Colleen, Noelle and Andy had worked together previously they had never worked all together in one group. Andy and Joe had never even met! This creative team had three 7-hour days to devise an original show for the grand staircase in the Living Arts Centre. The work premiered on the fourth day.

Everyone was challenged and surprised by this project as we encountered our characters and crafted our story. Noelle and Joe were confronted with the task of creating the dragon tail (constructed with metal hoops), and transforming the staircase into the dragon’s nest. Damian learned sword work with Andy, who choreographed the fight sequences. Colleen physically researched how a dragon might move and interact. Together we questioned and built a narrative arc, fusing our professional perspectives as actors, dancers, visual artists, and fight choreographers into one project. Certainly the pressure of time was stressful, yet it was also helpful – providing urgency to our process and making each decision count. The work was a hit with our audience, who told us they liked the exciting music, breathtaking action and moving storyline. We’ve since reworked and revisited the piece, performing it in Kitchener for Night/Shift2015. We are thrilled to bring Dragon to Guelph, and can’t wait to share it with new audiences for the In the Park series.

Video below shows excerpts from 'Off the Wall.' You'll easily find 'Dragon!' Take a look.

 Full Festival schedule can be viewed on our website. So much great contemporary dance in four amazing days!

Friday, 15 April 2016

Guelph Dance Defines Gravity in the 18th Annual Guelph Dance Festival!

We are thrilled to announce the lineup for the 18th Annual Guelph Dance Festival, June 2-5, 2016. Bigger and better than ever, Guelph Dance will host 18 dance companies in 9 performances in 5 venues! We promise to define gravity in new ways this season, with dances on ice to dances in trees. We know there is something for everyone, with ticket prices ranging from, well, FREE to $30.

Here’s a little taste of what’s on offer this year. We encourage you to read the full details on our website
The wildly-popular, pay-what-you-can In the Park series features four companies this year:

·  Aeriosa, from Vancouver, performs “Birds Land Too,” a part-aerial, part-land piece that is derived from the behavior of birds
(photo right: Nicholas Podbrey)
·   Ferenc Feher travels from Hungary to perform “Tao Te,” an explosive male duet
·   Mississauga-based Frog in Hand brings “Dragon,” a piece that includes theatrical sword work
·   the local Hidden Heart Collective performs “Oblivion Shift,” exploring missed connections

These four companies perform in Exhibition Park on Thursday, June 2 at 7:00 pm, Saturday, June 4 at 12:00 pm, and Sunday, June 5 at 12:00 pm, and – new this year - at Hanlon Creek Park on Friday, June 3 at 5:30 pm.

The On the Stage shows take place on two different stages this year: the Cooperator’s Hall at River Run Centre and the University of Guelph’s Gold Ice Rink. Ticket prices range from $15-30.

· Le Patin Libre, a Montreal-based ice skating dance troupe, is featured in On the Stage A, on Friday, June 3, 8 pm. Performing at the University of Guelph’s Gold Ice Rink, this company exploits the idea of glide in its full-length piece “Vertical Influences.” (Photo right: Le Patin Libre (Alicia Clarke)

·  Julia Sasso dances (Toronto) and Suzanne Miller & Allan Paivio Productions (Montreal), both long-time members of Canada’s professional dance community, perform in On the Stage B, Saturday, June 4, 8 pm (River Run Centre). Sasso’s group performs “Sporting Life,” a piece that mirrors our fragilities and perverse lust for violence. Miller & Paivio bring “The Water Project: THIRST,” which reflects on the perilous crisis of water as a global issue.
Sara Porter is featured at our In the Studio event, taking place at the Guelph Youth Studios on Saturday, June 4, at 4:00 pm. In this intimate performance, sure to sell out quickly, Porter performs “Sara does a Solo,” a fearless account of an aging body and reflective mind. Ticket prices range from $15-20. (Photo right: Sara Porter (Tamara Romanchuk)

Local Initiatives
, Guelph Dance’s commitment to fostering the local dance community, features Capacitance, a multidisciplinary, improvisational performance produced and curated by Guelph dancer Lynette Segal. The show takes place on Sunday, June 5, at 2:00 pm at the Guelph Youth Studios, and is pay-what-you-can.

Festival favourite, YouthMoves, features 9 youth dance companies from across Southern Ontario in a professionally-produced performance at the River Run Centre, Sunday, June 5, at 4:00 pm. Youth Moves is the place to see the next generation of dance artists in action, before they’re famous! Tickets range from $15-20.

There are several educational opportunities throughout the Festival, including free post-show chats following In the Studio and Local Initiatives; a free pre-showchat facilitated by Sara Porter before On the Stage B; an ice dance workshop with Le Patin Libre at 9:30 am on Saturday, June 4 ($20); a workshop in Skinner Releasing Technique with Julia Sasso at 9:30 am on Sunday, June 5 ($20); Youth Dance Day on Friday, June 3, with a full afternoon and evening of dance activities ($32); and Teen Dance Day on Saturday, June 4, with a full morning and afternoon of dance activities ($45).
Photo Below: Dance Market (Lydia Summerlee)
The fun and interactive Dance Market is back at Exhibition Park this year, following the Saturday and Sunday In the Park performances. Stick around after the show to participate in short demos given by area movement practitioners. It's the perfect way to try out yoga, pilates, gyrokinesis, and more!

Tickets for all ticketed events, including workshops and youth and teen dance day, can be purchased through the River Run Centre Box Office (
www.riverrun.ca; 519-763-3000). In the Park, Dance Market, and Local Initiatives are all pay-what-you-can events. More information about the gravity-defining 18th Annual Guelph Dance Festival can be found on our website at www.guelphdance.ca.  Mark your calendars and purchase your tickets now so you don’t miss Guelph’s premier dance event of the year!

Look for our poster around town! Thanks to Gareth Lind for the design. 
Photo: Julia Sasso dances (Nicole Rivelli)