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Features

Lisa Gelley Martin in Inheritor Recordings / Photo by David Cooper
 

Alone and Together

By Zoe Quinn

As a choreographer, performer and teacher, Lisa Gelley, co-artistic director of Vancouver-based Company 605, is fascinated by the complex relationships between individuals and larger groups. Her work investigates how individual identities can exist and transform the larger whole.

Vancouver-based Company 605 has gained a reputation for intense and physically demanding works that draw from contemporary and urban movement vocabularies. As co-founder and co-artistic director, Lisa Gelley uses their signature sharpness and speed to explore the complex relationships between individuals and larger groups. In several recent works, members of a group explore their own unique gestural expressions and then have those incorporated back into the group dynamic. This theme is one equally reflected in the company’s creative process, which uses collaboration to combine individualized movement with a group dynamic, and the administration of the company, which Gelley shares with Josh Martin, her partner with whom she recently had a child. As the responsibilities of parenthood have required them to share tasks differently, Gelley is now applying her experience on step removed from her creations to their future projects.   

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Company 605 de Vancouver est reconnue pour ses créations intenses et physiquement exigeantes qui puisent la gestuelle des danses contemporaine et urbaine. La cofondatrice et codirectrice artistique Lisa Gelley se sert de leur signature – une gestuelle aiguisée et rapide – pour explorer les relations complexes entre l’individu et le groupe. Dans les chorégraphies récentes, chaque danseur explorait son propre langage physique et l’intégrait ensuite à la dynamique du groupe. Ce thème reflète aussi le processus créatif de la compagnie, axée sur la collaboration pour développer à la fois l’individu et la collectivité, ainsi que l’administration, que Gelley partage avec son conjoint Josh Martin. Ils ont récemment eu un enfant, et leurs responsabilités parentales les engagent dans un partage de tâches différent. Travaillant jusque-là toujours dans la cocréation et l’interprétation, Gelley envisage maintenant de se consacrer à un rôle à la fois, soit chorégraphe ou danseuse, pour les prochaines pièces de la compagnie.

Lisa Gelley Martin in Inheritor Recordings / Photo by David Cooper

 

The audience joins in a round dance after Kristy Janvier's showing / Photo by Leif Norman
 

Healing as Performative Practice

By Jillian Groening

The Young Lungs Dance Exchange Research Series in Winnipeg, featuring Jaime Black, Brenda McLean and Kristy Janvier, focuses on exploration and idea generation. Photographer Leif Norman and writer Jillian Groening collected fragments of this shared creative ground.

From November 2016 to January 2017, photographer Leif Norman and I were tasked with observing the Young Lungs Dance Exchange Research Series, held in Winnipeg, Manitoba. The series focuses on exploration and idea generation without the pressures of a final production, encouraging the creators to take risks and to try incorporating new elements into their practice. This year the series supported three choreographers, Jaime Black and Brenda McLean, both based in Winnipeg, and Kristy Janvier, who hails from Flin Flon, Manitoba, a northern rural community.

 

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The audience joins a round dance after Kristy Janvier’s showing / Photo by Leif Norman

Belle Jumelles / Photo by Ruth Gillson Photography
 

Broadening the Stage

By Cristina Matteis

Pervasive conceptions about which bodies are considered beautiful, professionally acceptable or healthy continue to restrict how individuals seek self-expression through the art of dance. Activists, experts and dance artists discuss the importance of body diversity in presenting a wider range of lived experiences onstage, reaching new audiences and connecting with them more meaningfully.

Discussing the importance and experience of body-size diversity with activists, experts and dance artists, including burlesque performer Belle Jumelles, contemporary dance artist Lynda Raino and dancer and arts administrator Émilie Poirier, this feature explores what is gained in expanding our aesthetic expectations of bodies on stage and what cultural trends are at work to foreclose that conversation. For these artists, audience have had strong and positive reactions to seeing bodies and stories to which they can relate on stage. A greater multiplicity of lived experiences on the stage, and great room for physical diversity, can both broaden dance’s audience and deepen the connection with them.

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Les idées reçues sur la beauté, l’apparence professionnelle, la santé et l’athlétisme de certains corps font encore obstacle à l’expression dansée de nombreuses personnes. L’article ci-dessus se penche sur la diversité des corps – son importance et l’expérience de différentes personnes – avec des activistes, des experts et des artistes de danse, y compris la performeuse burlesque Belle Jumelles, l’artiste de danse contemporaine Lynda Raino, et la danseuse et travailleuse culturelle Émilie Poirier. L’auteure explore les gains possibles dans l’éclatement de nos attentes esthétiques ainsi que les tendances culturelles qui étouffent les discussions sur le sujet. Pour les artistes interviewés, voir sur scène des corps et des histoires qui reflètent la réalité suscite des réactions fortes et positives. Une gamme plus large d’expériences et une place pour la diversité physique sur les plateaux peuvent à la fois élargir le public de la danse et approfondir les liens avec les spectateurs.

Belle Jumelles / Photo by Ruth Gillson Photography

Sampradaya Dance Creations in Taj (2013) Photo by On Up Photography
 

Legacies

By Aparita Bhandari

A generation of established artists and teachers of South Asian dance forms, Menaka Thakkar and Lata Pada, who teach bharatanatyam, and Joanna de Souza, who teaches kathak, discuss the various roles they have had to adopt along their careers. They reflect on the development of their teaching and performance practices and, now that they are nearing retirement, how that knowledge and institutional momentum will be shared with the next generation.

By the early seventies, Indian classical dance had established a footing in Canada. Establishing solo performers, artists such as Menaka Thakkar and Lata Pada, had founded schools in bharatnatyam, and by the 1980’s, other teachers such as Chitralekha Patnaik and Joanna De Souza had started teaching other Indian classical forms including Odissi and Kathak. Part activists, part teachers, they found themselves explaining the rigour of the dance forms to arts councils and funding bodies, to get Indian classical dance recognized as an art form worthy of their support. They also needed to educate parents who often put their children, usually daughters, into classes to learn Indian culture that learning dance is not just a hobby, but requires discipline and practice. Aparita Bhandari spoke to three of these leading artists and teachers, Pata, Thakkar and De Souza, with whom she has studied, about the changes they have seen over their careers, and what their future holds for them.

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Dès le début des années 70, la danse classique indienne avait pris pied au Canada. Des artistes solistes établies comme Menaka Thakkar et Lata Pada avaient fondé des écoles de bharatanatyam. À partir des années 1980, d’autres enseignantes comme Chitralekha Patnaik et Joanna De Souza commençaient à enseigner d’autres formes classiques indiennes, y compris l’odissi et le kathak. À la fois activistes et enseignantes, elles se sont trouvées à expliquer la rigueur de ces formes aux conseils des arts et aux organismes de subvention, afin que la danse classique indienne soit reconnue comme un art digne d’appui. Elles ont aussi sensibilisé certains parents qui inscrivaient leurs enfants (souvent des filles) aux classes de danse pour les exposer à la culture indienne : la danse est non seulement un passetemps ; elle exige discipline et pratique. Aparita Bhandari a interviewé trois artistes et enseignantes phares, Pata, Thakkar et De Souza, avec qui elle a étudié, sur l’évolution de leurs carrières respectives et leurs perspectives sur l’avenir.

Sampradaya Dance Creations in Taj (2013) / Photo by On Up Photography

Departments

Editorial

By Lee Slinger

As the ground begins to warm up after the winter, it often feels that warmth is reflected in the increased activity of the human bodies, dancing, moving and generally bumbling, as the spring takes hold. It is the season both for starting new projects and for presenting works that lie hibernating, developing, over the winter. This issue reflects that feeling of energy and excitement. 
 
One theme that emerges from the features in this issue is the important, and often productive, tension between individuals and the collectives of which they are a part. For Lisa Gelley, co-artistic director of Company 605 in Vancouver, profiled by Zoe Quinn, interest in this theme has informed not only her creative work but also her process and her method of managing an arts company. The Young Lungs Research Series in Winnipeg, the subject of the photo essay, with photos by Leif Norman and text by Jillian Groening, also considers the ways in which collective moments can inform individual creativity, offering three artists an extended period of creative development with a variety of forms of response and collaboration with series participants. 
 
In “Broadening the Stage,” Cristina Matteis speaks with numerous artists, activists and scholars about body size diversity on the stage. One of the common threads in their artistic experiences is how different individual bodies can reach out and impact different audiences. By presenting onstage lived bodily experiences not usually seen in dance works, they open not only a collective (and desperately needed) aesthetic questioning of our perception of bodies in public but also greater opportunity for individual audience members to relate to the artistic ideas presented.
 
This issue also presents the voices of those nearing the end of their careers and of those whose careers have more recently taken shape. While Vancouver-based artist Olivia C. Davies and Dario Charles, currently in Toronto but originally from Calgary, discuss forging their own paths, three of the most distinguished artists in South Asian dance in Canada, Joanna de Souza, Lata Pada and Menaka Thakkar discuss their legacies with Aparita Bhandari. Despite the diversity of their experiences, all of these artists consider how we might encourage and support dance artists as committed professionals. 
 
Hopefully this issue leaves you, as it did me, with a desire to reach out and communicate with others through movement in new and meaningful ways.
Davies in her own work Crow’s Nest and Other Places She’s Gone / Photo by Chris Randle

Movers

Weaving Movement
By Charlotte Priest

Olivia C. Davies blends dance and storytelling on the West Coast.

Honouring the past informs the work of Vancouver-based contemporary dance artist Olivia C. Davies. It is an essential and spiritual component of her work. With decades of training in contemporary and contemporary-Aboriginal forms, Davies explores what she terms “the process of bringing back what we’ve lost.”

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Davies in her own work Crow’s Nest and Other Places She’s Gone / Photo by Chris Randle

Dario Charles / Photo by Morgan Gold

Movers

Exploring the Possibilities
By Valeria Nunziato

Dario Charles on seeing dance as a network of opportunities.

Originally a music student, Edmonton-born Dario Charles enrolled at the Edmonton School of Ballet, and was later accepted to the School of Toronto Dance Theatre. Upon graduation, he travelled to Israel to broaden his cultural experiences, studying with Vertigo Dance Company’s International Dance Program.

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Dario Charles / Photo by Morgan Gold

Tracey Norman with daughter Pearl and students of York University / Photo by Raphael Roter

Inspire

Dancing into Parenthood
By Grace Smith

Childcare information and ideas for dance artists.

With more artists continuing to dance after starting families, affordable and appropriate childcare options have become an important issue for the dance community. The Dance Current spoke with dance artists about their tips and suggestions for childcare.

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Students of York University in class with Tracey Norman and her daughter, Pearl / Photo by Raphael Roter

Anik Bissonnette and students of L’École supérieure de ballet du Québec / Photo by Jean-Marie Comeau

List

Anik Bissonnette

Artistic director, L’École supérieure de ballet du Québec

Anik Bissonnette, a former principal dancer with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal and then president of the Regroupement québecois de la danse, has been the artistic director of L’École supérieure de ballet du Québec in Montréal since 2010. The Dance Current asked Bissonnette about what inspires her as a creator and pedagogue.

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Anik Bissonnette and students of L’École supérieure de ballet du Québec / Photo by Jean-Marie Comeau

A class at Great Moving Dancers (GMD) / Photo by Marlowe Porter

Body

Hip Help
By Mary Ellen Baldner

Common hip injuries and their prevention

The human hip joint is a major weight-bearing joint of the body. While they can provide mobility that dancers use to their advantage, repetitive lifts and kicks, rotations of the leg, jump landings and deep squats push the hips to the end of their range and place a high amount of stress on the joints.

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A class at Great Moving Dancers (GMD) / Photo by Marlowe Porter

Mediterranean Orzo Salad with Orange Vinaigrette. See the full recipe at Feeling-Foody.com

Dancer's Kitchen

Kallee’s Dressing Trio
By Kallee Lins

Dressings and sauces help create healthy and delicious meals

Whether you’re in the mood for a filling grain bowl or a lighter green salad, this trio has endless applications.

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Mediterranean Orzo Salad with Orange Vinaigrette. See the full recipe at Feeling-Foody.com

Renée Salsiccioli / Photo courtesy of Salsiccioli

Practice

Thinking Small
By Galadriel Watson

Dance educators discuss the challenges and opportunities of teaching in small communities

If you want to teach dance, do you have to stick to a city and pass on small-town living? The Dance Current spoke with three instructors teaching in communities in British Columbia with less than 8000 residents about what makes it hard and what makes it great.

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Renée Salsiccioli / Photo courtesy of Salsiccioli

Photo courtesy of Davi Rodrigues

What's In Your Dancebag?

Davi Rodrigues

Artistic Director, Lamondance

Davi Rodrigues is the artistic director of Lamondance, a pre-professional training and performance company in Vancouver, established by Lara Barclay and Monica Proença in 2009. Originally from Brazil, Rodrigues shares his own interest in cultural exchanges with the young company members. As a teacher, choreographer and administrator, he fills his dancebag with items for the body and mind.

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Photo courtesy of Davi Rodrigues

Kathleen Rea / Photo by Simon Tanenbaum

From Our Archives

Kathleen Rea
By Denise Solleza

May 2002

Having recently retired from performance, contemporary dance artist and artistic director of REAson d’etre dance productions Kathleen Rea told Aimée Dawn Robinson in a profile in May 2002 that she had begun expressive arts therapy as a result of the struggles that pressure, anxiety and frustration of performance brought into her life. Since the profile, Rea graduated with a master’s degree in expressive arts therapy and started a private practice.

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Kathleen Rea / Photo by Simon Tanenbaum

Ashleigh Powell (centre) leading Sharing Dance participants in a community rehearsal (2016) /  Photo by Jackielou Perez

Backstage

Participation
By Elise Tigges

A celebratory cross-country dance initiative

Sharing Dance is an initiative begun by Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS) to bring dance to as wide an audience as possible. It includes programs in schools for children and youth, and in communities for seniors and those living with Parkinson’s and dementia. 
For the second year, its keynote event is the multigenerational, multi-location Sharing Dance Day, which sees communities across the country perform the same choreography. As one of the signature events for this year’s Canada 150 celebrations, this year’s choreography, created by Eugene Baffoe, Kimberley Cooper, Roger Sinha and Tracee Smith, speaks to Canada’s rich history and diversity. The choreography is set to a specially remixed piece of Canadian music by Laura Silberberg-Sgroi remixed by Skratch Bastid and performed by the Afiara Quartet featuring Inuit throat singer Tiffany Ayalik, who was born in the Northwest Territories. 
Ashleigh Powell, a member of the artistic staff at NBS and the manager of Sharing Dance, leads many of the rehearsals held in the Toronto area. She aims to create a place where “everyone’s first or primary experience in dance is in a meaningful, safe space.” For Powell, Sharing Dance Day gets people moving and gives them an opportunity to explore and enjoy dance. As a whole, says Powell, “Sharing Dance’s different initiatives bring dance to everyone.”
 
Sharing Dance Day is June 2nd with events held across the country. Learn more >> nbs-enb.ca/Sharing-Dance

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Ashleigh Powell (centre) leading Sharing Dance participants in a community rehearsal (2016) /  Photo by Jackielou Perez

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