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Holla! Natasha Powell's Vernacular

By Collette Murray

As artistic director of Holla Jazz, Natasha Powell is informed by social dance and communal dance practices of African-American jazz, hip hop and house dance. But instead of replicating first-generation jazz or lindy hop, her movement style is an evolution of these forms.

Collette Murray sat down with Powell to discuss her burgeoning career, in which she recently created her first solo-choreographed production, FLOOR’d. Drawn from cultural institutions such as juke joints, the work won a Dora Mavor Moore Award for “Outstanding Performance – Ensemble,” one of four Dora nominations for Powell and her company this year.
 

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La directrice artistique de Holla Jazz, Natasha Powell, s’inspire de la danse sociale et des pratiques communales de danse jazz afro-américaine, du hip-hop et du house. Sa mission n’est pas de reproduire les danses jazz et lindy hop de première génération, mais plutôt de définir son style en évolution dans le contexte actuel. Collette Murray s’est assise avec Powell pour discuter de sa carrière émergente, et de sa première production intégrale, FLOOR’D. Puisant les institutions culturelles comme les juke joints, elle réalise une chorégraphie qui s’est mérité un prix Dora Mavor Moore dans la catégorie « performance exceptionnelle – ensemble », en plus d’être en lice pour trois autres prix.

Powell / Photo by Alvin Collantes

 

Photo-Painting with Damian Siqueiros

Enter into the photos of Damian Siqueiros. Known for his vibrant and often surreal images of dance and circus performers.

Though his images are arresting and aesthetically pleasing, Montréal-based photographer Siqueiros works from a politically engaged perspective, calling himself an “artivist” and “photo-painter.” Instead of photographing dancers in performance and on the black box stage, he prefers to curate the elements of the shoot himself to create images of dancing bodies in landscapes we don’t often see them in. This process has led him to develop other skills out of necessity – makeup artistry, set/costume design and digital arts – that he harnesses as elements of his craft.
 

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Damian Siqueiros est un photographe établi à Montréal. Il produit des images saisissantes et esthétiquement agréables tout en étant politiquement engagé. Il se désigne « artiviste » et « photo-peintre ». Plutôt que de prendre les interprètes en photo sur scène, dans une boite noire, il préfère commissarier les éléments des séances photo pour capter des corps dansant dans des contextes inhabituels. Ce processus l’a amené à développer certaines compétences par nécessité – le maquillage, la conception de costumes et de décors, et les arts numériques – qu’il déploie dans son métier.

A-Reum Choi in Song of Red, a photo from the series Song of the Inner Chambers, a project about gender equality created in collaboration with Korean dancers while in residence at the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Seoul and the CALQ / Photo and art direction by Siqueiros

 

Beginnings are Everywhere

By Jane Gabriels

Join Jane Gabriels on her journey to the 2018 Coastal First Nations Dance Festival (CFNDF). Responding to the experience from a place of accompaniment, Gabriels pivots from viewer to witness. Including a statement from Margaret Grenier on CFNDF’s ten-year anniversary.

Before moving to Vancouver, Jane Gabriels met Christine Sokaymoh Frederick, an urban Aboriginal Cree-Métis from Alberta. Frederick explained how our earth recognizes and knows us by our footprint – its weight, the feel of it, how we press into the ground. In this article, Gabriels, the new Executive Director of Made in BC – Dance on Tour, explores this notion, reflecting on her time at the 2018 Coastal First Nations Dance Festival. Inspired by the dancers at the festival and how they shared personal stories in relation to performances, Gabriels responds from a place of accompaniment, pivoting herself from viewer to witness.
 

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Avant de déménager à Vancouver, Jane Gabriels a rencontré Christine Sokaymoh Frederick, qui s’identifie comme autochtone urbaine Cri-Métis de l’Alberta. Frederick lui a décrit comment la terre reconnait notre pas – le poids, la sensation de celui-ci, la façon que nous poussons le sol. Dans cet article, Gabriels, nouvelle directrice générale de Made in BC – Dance on Tour, explore cette notion en revenant sur son passage à l’édition 2018 du Coastal First Nations Dance Festival. Inspirée par les danseurs qui partageaient des histoires personnelles en lien aux performances, Gabriels répond à son expérience par l’accompagnement ; elle change sa position de spectatrice à témoin.

Rebecca Baker and Margaret Grenier / Photo by Chris Randle

 

Embodied Economies

By Jillian Groening

What are the complexities of making dance work in late capitalism? Six artists (Mike Prosserman, Dainty Smith, Eroca Nicols, Ming Hon, Laura Elliott and Freya Olafson) speak out about commodification, capital and subverting current economic and political structures.

Mike Prosserman / Photo by Glen C

Departments

Editorial

By Emma Doran

Recently, I was fortunate to sit in on a discussion about safe spaces for dance artists. Taking place during the Dancer Transition Resource Centre’s Keep on Moving conference in late September, the conversation brought up many issues – privilege, accessibility, language. But the issue that came up again and again (and again) was money. What does it mean that many dancers often work in spaces that do not or cannot offer financial stability? 

Monetizing artistry is tricky. In performative arts the issue can be dire. Consider this (perhaps overly simplistic) point of comparison: in visual arts, the price of an art object is determined by a number of factors that come together to determine the level of want for the piece, and as visual art critic Robert Hughes wrote, “Nothing is more manipulable than desire.” How do we measure desire for a dance performance? Is it by ticket sales alone? And, how does this perceived desire work to support future creation? In essence, how does monetary value impact creativity? These and other questions are explored in our In Conversation. 

In our main feature, Jane Gabriels offers a peek into her experience visiting the Coastal First Nations Dance Festival this past February. Her stunning portrayal of the land rivals virtuosic travel writing, and instead of simply focusing on the performative aspects of the events, she brings up the often overlooked or invisible aspects of a festival and what takes place in the in-between spaces. 

Realistically and often for financial reasons, many dance artists create in in-between spaces. For our feature profile, Collette Murray spoke to Natasha Powell, whose Dora Award-winning work FLOOR’D was born in her living room and reimagines the jook house as a modern-day space. Finally, our photo essay also asks the viewer to reimagine performance space. The photographer Damian Siqueiros, instead of depicting dancers in their typical environs – the studio or stage – works with them to art-direct unexpected surroundings. 

Wishing all of our readers a warm and joyful holiday season!

Doran / Photo by Yuli Scheidt

Movers

Fluent in form
By Xdzunúm Danae Trejo-Boles

A dancer in his mid-twenties, Rivera, who started his training in gymnastics, works to combine ballet, breakdance and contemporary dance.

“When I was younger, I was always emotional or empathetic,” explains Rivera. “And I hated that. I used to be so embarrassed when people caught me crying.” It was not until Rivera started dancing that he was able to accept his emotions not as flaws but as strengths.

Rivera in Victor Quijada’s City Thread / Photo by Marie-Noële Pilon

Movers

Mutual Inspiration
By Elise Tigges

The Scheitzbach brothers

Michael and Kevin Scheitzbach make up Flow XS – a duo of brothers working to make a name for themselves as hip hop artists in Canada and the United States.

Michael Scheitzbach and Kevin Scheitzbach / Photo by Dani Carlton

Report

The Middle-Hand
By Valérie Cusson

Reconsidering the role of the agent

Agent? Manager? Producer? As the roles of the artist representative evolve, “middle-hand” cultural workers struggle to define their function in the cultural ecosystem. What is an agent, other than the “salesperson” they are frequently associated with? At the Festival TransAmériques (FTA) this past spring, I sat on a panel organized by Creative Agent Manager Producer (CAMP), a collective who curate collaborative sharing meetings with artists, middle-hands, presenters and arts council representatives. We found that this obsolete vision of agent as salesperson is hurting the profession by minimizing the complex tasks we handle for the field.

The List

Victoria "VicVersa" Mackenzie

What inspires Victoria “VicVersa” Mackenzie?

An active member of the Montréal street dance community, Victoria “VicVersa” Mackenzie has been breaking for ten years. She’s a graduate of Ecole de danse contemporaine de Montréal and is currently a member of Tentacle Tribe.

Mackenzie / Photo by Alex Gilbert

Check It Out

Little Feet

Heather William’s recovery

Faced with the challenge of rebuilding her body after a traumatic brain injury, Heather Williams decided to write about her road to recovery. The result is her book, Little Feet (2018), which outlines the physical and emotional toll her injuries had on her and her loved ones.

Body

The Hidden Cheat
By Dr. Blessyl Buan

Overusing the foot for balance and stability

In my clinical practice, through which I work with full-time dancers, I’ve observed the prevalence of chronic pain and misalignment of the knee, foot and ankle. Often, young dancers will grip the floor with their toes or collapse their arches to achieve balance. This compensation of the lower limb is an adaptation to inefficient alignment and a sign of weak core stability. By visualizing this system and understanding how to activate this kinetic chain, dancers can prevent injuries and enhance technique.

Photo by Thought Catalogue, courtesy of Unsplash

Dancer's Kitchen

Megha's Creamy Lentils with Rice and Salad

“My recipe was born out of a clichéd East-meets-West philosophy – a journey through personal development challenges and the hopes to sow healthy seeds in my own dance lifestyle,” explains Megha Chatterjee. She was inspired to create this recipe based on the make-your-own bowl food places spread through the length of Spadina and Richmond Street West, by The Dance Current office. The recipe is also a detour from the tempting fast food joints and expensive health food ubiquitous in the area.

Chatterjee is an intern at The Dance Current. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Mumbai, India. A completed graduation in bharatanatyam and self-practice in hip hop led her to The Wooden Stage, a performing arts institute based out of Mumbai and the first aerial arts and commercial dance school in the city. Along with dance, she also undertakes freelance projects in content writing, design engineering and e-commerce back-end analytics. She is passionate about integrating technology into movement practices. Chatterjee is currently training in The School of Groove’s Tier 1 program.

Photo courtesy of Chatterjee

Practice

Singing Feet
By Grace Wells-Smith

A tap teacher teaching a tap teacher

“Who knows the Shim Sham?” Amy Lintunen asks enthusiastically to start her beginner/intermediate tap class at Toronto’s City Dance Corps. Created by Leonard Reed and Willie Bryant in the 1920s, the Shim Sham Shimmy is known as the tap dancer anthem and has also found its way into jazz and lindy hop. Look it up on YouTube, and hundreds of videos pop up – from enthusiasts in their living rooms to professionals onstage. As a tap dancer and teacher myself, I was right in my comfort zone starting with the Shim Sham. I was swiftly removed from said comfort zone.

Lintunen / Photo by E. S. Cheah Photography

What's In Your Dancebag?

Alex Michelle

Pole and aerial performer and co-owner of Vertika Pole Fitness Studio

Michelle has been performing since she was three years old – taking dance lessons, getting involved in Windsor, Ontario’s theatre community and attending an arts school. She has been training in pole and aerial for almost five years now and has competed all over southern Ontario and also in Ohio. As co-owner of Vertika Pole Fitness Studio, Michelle enjoys experimenting with styles and genres of music to find innovative ways to move and connect to her art.

Michelle / Photo courtesy of Michelle

Backstage

Folk Dance Retrospective

Garni Armenian Dance Ensemble

Since 1998, Garni Armenian Dance Ensemble has been creating folk dance and working to support the wealth and beauty of Armenian culture in Montréal. Named after the iconic Garni Temple in Armenia, the group is celebrating its twentieth anniversary with a performance in November. The show will feature dancers from different generations – both those who are currently part of the ensemble and former Garni dancers will be coming back to take part. The retrospective show will be choreographed by Artistic Director Baron Ludvig and will feature the ensemble’s best and most appreciated works. “It’s a celebration of everything we’ve achieved as this dance family,” explains Ludvig. “Baron Ludvig,” as he is commonly known, has been honoured with many awards, such as the “Golden Lauréat” granted to him by the Government of Armenia, on three separate occasions, to recognize his work.

Garni’s one-of-a-kind performance takes place on November 18th atThéâtre Marcellin-Champagnat at Collège Laval, Montréal.

The Garni Dance Ensemble / Photo by Ara Samson

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