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If the corps had a leader...

By Grace Wells-Smith

Andreea Olteanu has been a corps member at The National Ballet of Canada for twenty years, since she was eighteen. On the eve of her retirement, after this 2018/19 season, Olteanu spoke with Grace Wells-Smith about her twenty-year career with the company.

Offering glimpses into her training, Olteanu talks about her training at the Quinte Ballet School, getting hired by James Kudelka, the physical demands of corps work, mentoring new dancers and about other pivotal moments in her career. Olteanu’s family is enmeshed in the ballet world: her husband, Patrick Lavoie was a first soloist with the company and her son trains with Canada’s National Ballet School. She’s candid about the demands of motherhood in a physically demanding job and the support she felt from artistic director Karen Kain along the way.

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Il y a vingt ans, le National Ballet of Canada engageait Andreea Olteanu, qui avait alors dix-huit ans, dans le corps de ballet. À la veille de sa retraite après la saison 2018-2019, Olteanu parle avec Grace Wells-Smith de sa carrière au sein de la compagnie. Elle offre un aperçu de sa formation à la Quinte Ballet School, de son embauche par James Kudelka, des exigences physiques du travail, de son soutien des nouvelles recrues et d’autres moments d’importance dans sa carrière. Sa famille est entrelacée dans le monde du ballet: son mari Patrick Lavoie était premier soliste avec la compagnie et leur fils s’entraine à l’École nationale de ballet du Canada. Elle partage avec candeur les enjeux de la maternité avec un emploi physiquement rigoureux et de l’appui qu’elle a reçu de Karen Kain en chemin.

Olteanu / Photo by Karolina Kuras

 

 

In review

The Dance Current looks back at a year of dance writing and photography on thedancecurrent.com

 

 

Dumas in Rochon-Prom Tep’s Un temps pour tout / Photo by David Wong

 

 

Dance and/as Protest

By Elan Marchinko, Rodney Diverlus

Public protest on the land now called Canada often disrupts the rhythms of everyday life. Dance, when used in and as protest, entails the work of remembrance and caring for difficult histories, memories and stories. Elan Marchinko explores four performative works that engage in protest. Included are Rodney Diverlus’s choreographer’s notes.

As a researcher, dancer and choreographer, Elan Marchinko explores four performative works that explore protest: Verba Ukrainian Dance Company’s The Holmodor Project, Chai Folk Ensemble’s Meridian, Signal Theatre’s Bearing, and Tableau d’Hôte Theatre’s Blackout. By looking at these staged performances as acts of protest, Marchinko examines how Indigenous, settler and diasporic bodies can tell the histories of colonial violence of a society premised on neoliberal multiculturalism where the policing of difference masquerades as “diversity.”

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Les manifestations sur le territoire actuellement appelé Canada dérangent souvent le rythme quotidien des personnes qui s’y retrouvent. Lorsque la danse est déployée pour contester, ceux qui s’en servent doivent prendre soin de récits et de souvenirs difficiles. Chercheuse, danseuse et chorégraphe, Elan Marchinko se penche sur quatre œuvres performatives qui explorent la manifestation: The Holomodor Project de la Verba Ukrainian Dance Company, Meridian du Chai Folk Ensemble, Bearing du Signal Theatre, et Blackout du Tableau D’Hôte Theatre. Elle considère ces œuvres comme gestes de protestation. De cette perspective, Marchinko examine comment les corps autochtones, colons et diasporiques racontent la violence coloniale d’une société sous- tendue par un multiculturalisme néolibéral, où la « diversité » est un masque pour le contrôle de la différence.

Brandon Oakes and Daniel McArthur in Signal Theatre’s Bearing / Photo by Dahlia Katz

 

 

How does a body occupy space?

By Robert Kingsbury

Padmini Chettur on the politics of form

After training in classical Indian dance, Padmini Chettur joined a collective of artists working with the radical bharatanatyam modernist choreographer Chandralekha, whose oeuvre dealt primarily with deconstructing the form. Breaking away in 2001, Chettur formed a practice that shifted the choreographic tradition to a minimalistic vocabulary, visually translating philosophical concepts of time and space, as they relate to contemporary experience. Robert Kingsbury sat down with Chettur after her recent performance at Anandam Dance Theatre’s Contemporaneity 3.0 this past April to chat about working overseas and the politics of form.

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Après une formation en danse classique indienne, Padmini Chettur rejoint un collectif d’artistes qui travaillent avec la chorégraphe en bharatanatyam Chandralekha. Artiste moderniste radical, Chandralekha œuvre principalement à déconstruire la forme. Chettur commence à voler de ses propres ailes en 2001. Dans sa pratique, la tradition chorégraphique devient un vocabulaire minimaliste. Elle traduit en danse les concepts philosophiques du temps et de l’espace en lien à l’expérience contemporaine. En avril, Robert Kingsbury a retrouvé Chettur après sa performance dans le programme Contemporaneity 3.0 d’Anandam Dance Theatre pour discuter du travail à l’étranger et de la politique de la forme.

Photo by Venket Ram

Departments

Editorial

By Emma Doran

Last fall I was walking through the commercial melee that is Toronto’s Yonge-Dundas Square and something caught my eye. A small group of people of all ages were dancing in a circle. As they moved together, they looked so joyful that it stopped me in my tracks. After reading some signage, I realized they were protesting the construction of a dam on the other side of the world.

I’ve long respected the role that anger has in communicating injustice and inciting action, and certainly there are circumstances in which joy is an impossible and inappropriate affect. But until this encounter, I had never realized how protest can also hold room for joy.

The potential of (or fear for) the moving body is testament to its power as a site of resistance. One only has to look as far as the Canadian government’s Potlatch Ban (1885- 1951) to realize the power of the moving body in transmitting cultural knowledge. In this issue, Elan Marchinko writes about dance and/as protest, looking to the work of four groups – Verba Ukrainian Dance Company, Chai Folk Ensemble, Signal Theatre and Tableau D’Hôte Theatre – each who harness the spirit of protest in the theatre space. In the article, Marchinko is able to, as she says, “swerve past what dance is and look instead at what it does politically.”

While editing this and other pieces in this issue, I’ve been considering what language does politically. Even in the small details, the ways we revert or choose to use language has meaning. You may notice, for example, that where style guide convention dictates some words in non-English languages must be italicized, there are Illililu words in this issue that are neither explained nor italicized. If you are curious about their meaning, I urge you to investigate. As a small act of protest, I decided that there’s no need to point to the otherness of an Indigenous language that hails from near to where I live. Why make assumptions about who our readers are and what they might understand? We live on Turtle Island, after all. The way we tell stories is also political.

The issue also features a profile of Andreea Olteanu, who is retiring from The National Ballet of Canada after twenty years in the corps; a photo essay looking back at our past year of reviews; and a conversation with Padmini Chettur about the politics of form.

I encourage you to let us know what you think about our content. Why not write a letter to the editor? ;)

 

Movers

Tanveer Alam is Hatching
By Brannavy Jeyasundaram

Tanveer Alam

Four years ago, Tanveer Alam met with Dena Davida, the co-creator and curator for Montréal’s Tangente, for tea. Davida asked him, “Do you want to become an accomplished contemporary choreographer or an excellent Indian classical dance virtuoso?” At sixteen years old, without skipping a beat, Alam responded, “Both.”
 

Alam / Photo by Alvin Collantes

 

Movers

Miyopin Cheechoo nitishnikashon, niillilu
By Amy Hull

Miyopin Cheechoo

Hanging in Miyopin Cheechoo’s closet is what she refers to as a “timeline” of her dancing journey. This collection of fancy shawl regalia represents her physical and spiritual growth as a powwow dancer. “The most important thing to know about powwow is that it’s not a performance. I’m not here to sell myself. I’ve had people approach me with ‘tips’ on how to market my dancing. That’s not why I’m here.”

 

Cheechoo / Photo by Nick Iwanyshyn

 

Check it out

Mapping Choreography With the StageKeep App
By Elise Tigges

Developed by two University of Toronto graduates, StageKeep aims to solve the choreographer’s problem of creating formations and communicating them to dancers.

Co-founder Axel Villamil, a hip hop dancer with experience dancing across North America and Europe, discovered the need for this technology while dancing with a university hip hop crew. He noticed it was difficult to coordinate rehearsals due to busy class schedules. Artists were using pennies and dimes to represent dancers in space and to try to communicate changes to formations and new choreography. This sparked an idea for Villamil. Thinking, “It’s an archaic way. … We need to digitize this and see what happens,” he partnered with friend and co-founder William Mak to develop StageKeep.

 

Villamil / Photo courtesy of StageKeep

 

The List

What inspires Allison Toffan?

Artistic director of Toffan Rhythm Projects

A leader in the Canadian tap dance scene, Allison Toffan is stirring up momentum as a producer, curator, dancer and choreographer. Her production company, Toffan Rhythm Projects (TRP), launched in 2017 with the inaugural Toronto International Tap Dance Festival and was co-produced by Harbourfront Centre. The roots of TRP were planted in 2011 with the formation of Toronto Rhythm Initiative (TRI), which created a platform for local tap dancers and musicians to collaborate and present their work on a consistent basis. TRP aims to produce artistic ventures reflecting collaborative relationships, curation and community development through youth education, professional development and audience building.

Toffan talks to The Dance Current about what inspires her in this work.

 

Juliana Kelly and Toffan / Photo by ES Cheah Photography

 

From Our Archives

A Second Homecoming for Chan Hon Goh
By Jillian Groening

Director of Goh Ballet Academy

Later this year, Chan Hon Goh will be opening a second Goh Ballet Academy location, in Toronto. The former principal dancer with The National Ballet of Canada has a piece of her heart in the city where she spent much of her adult life, and the expansion resonates with comfort and elation simultaneously.

 

Goh with students / Photo courtesy of Goh Ballet

Body

Summer Rehab
By Dr. Mikaela Buchli-Kelly

How to avoid overuse injuries

With the arrival of summer comes the increase in intensity on many dancers’ schedules. Although increased activity, such as a summer intensive, offers great ways to improve technique and stamina, the increase can also lead to a myriad of overuse injuries if proper conditioning is not put in place. In the interest of injury prevention, it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of common dance-related overuse injuries.

 

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo, courtesy of Unsplash

Backstage

Comfort and Newness
By Anne Dion

This summer, Dance Victoria is bringing back their annual Choreographic Lab, now in its third iteration.

Running from July 22nd through August 3rd, the two-week intensive will again be offering three emerging choreographers and six pre-professional dancers a unique chance to enrich their artistic development through experimentation and collaboration. This year’s intensive will be led by artistic directors Justine A. Chambers and Susan Elliott, who will be mentoring three choreographers: Kelly Hobson, Angela Mousseau and Mahaila Patterson-O’Brien.

The lab offers ongoing support to those who participate, which is why Hobson and several of the dancers are returning. The goal is to establish a balance between comfort and newness. “Often as a creator, you only get one shot at something,” explains Elliot. “We want the experience to be about exploration. They’ll get to try things; they’ll get to fail. Justine and I both feel really strongly about the experiential benefits of being able to fail as an artist, and that’s often not something that’s encouraged or given the time and money it needs.”

The lab’s structure is the same every year: each day the choreographers are given a creative task. While brainstorming the curriculum, Elliot and Chambers left room for the choreographers to bring in their own input to cultivate collaboration. At 5pm participants present their day’s work to give and receive feedback.

A public performance will end the entire experience, presenting the new works at Dance Victoria Studios on August 3rd.

 

Samantha Krystal, Larryssa Yolland, Noah McKimm, Donaldo Nava, Jared Middleton, Isak Enquist, Ellie Bishop, Jacky Halaburda, Mahaila Patterson-O’Brien, Angela Mousseau, Kelly Hobson, Susan Elliott and Justine Chambers / Image courtesy of Dance Victoria

 

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