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Empty Seats at the Table

By Tracey Norman

For artist-mothers, the pandemic has magnified the lack of support

In early July, Tracey Norman found out that half of her regular teaching contract at York University had been reallocated. “Time are scarce – I get it,” she writes. But she knew at that moment that she and her partner would no longer to be able afford their part-time childcare. Around the same time, she came across a Facebook post by Kathleen Rea about the absence of artist-mothers since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The multitude of mothers who responded to her post inspired her to write about how the absence of artist-parents during the pandemic will affect the future of dance and how the current times have magnified the lack of support for these parents.

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Au début juillet, Tracey Norman a appris que la moitié de son contrat d’enseignement à l’université York avait été réaffecté. « Les temps sont durs. Je le comprends », écrit-elle. Mais du coup, elle comprenait aussi qu’elle et son conjoint ne seraient plus en mesure de payer leur service de garde à temps partiel. En même temps, elle est tombée sur un commentaire Facebook de Kathleen Rea sur l’absence des artistes mères depuis le début de la pandémie et la multitude de mères qui ont réagi a inspiré Norman à écrire. Elle se penche sur les répercussions de l’absence des artistes-parents pendant la pandémie pour l’avenir de la danse ainsi que sur la crise comme amplificatrice du manque de soutien pour ces parents.

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

 

Athletic Art

By Ainsley Hawthorn

After a prolific ice dancing career, Shae-Lynn Bourne finds more joy in choreographing than competing

If you ask Bourne how she feels about receiving the inaugural Skating Award for Best Choreographer from the International Skating Union (ISU) on July 11th, she’ll respond with characteristic modesty: “I’ve always had this little voice inside of me saying ‘How can you judge dance?’ In a way, you can’t. I feel this about every art. But being acknowledged and recognized was really wonderful, and I felt proud to just be in that category.” Bourne is a three-time Olympian ice dancer from Chatham, Ontario, and now works as a choreographer for top skaters around the world. Although choreography was an unexpected course change for Bourne, she finds more joy within skating now that she is no longer competing.

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Shae-Lynn Bourne a reçu le prix inaugural pour meilleure chorégraphie de l’Union international de patinage le 11 juillet dernier. Si vous lui demandez une réaction à cet honneur, elle répondra avec sa modestie caractéristique : « J’ai toujours une petite voix en moi qui me dit “mais comment juger la danse? ” D’une certaine façon, ce n’est pas possible. Je pense que c’est tout aussi vrai pour toutes les formes d’art. Mais c’était merveilleux d’être reconnue, et j’étais fière de me retrouver dans cette catégorie ». Née à Chatham, Ontario et trois fois médaillée olympique, Bourne travaille comme chorégraphe pour des patineur.euse.s élites partout dans le monde. Même si la chorégraphie a été un changement de cap imprévu dans son parcours professionnel, elle trouve maintenant plus de joie dans le patin maintenant qu’elle ne fait plus de la compétition.

Bourne in Abu Dhabi / Photo courtesy of Bourne 

 

That’s a Wrap

Dancefilms created during the COVID-19 pandemic

Dancefilm, as an art form, is by no means a new medium, but after theatres were shut down and choreographers and dancers found themselves without a stage, an impressive amount of dancefilms were produced. So, to wrap up the year, we are celebrating the persistence of dance communities across Canada and showcasing some of the dancefilms created during the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here to view our continued list of 2020 dancefilms.

La cinédanse n’en est pas à son premier tour de piste comme forme d’art. Mais avec la fermeture des salles de spectacles, les chorégraphes et interprètes se sont trouvé.e.s sans scène. S’ensuit la réalisation d’une quantité impressionnante de productions en cinédanse. Pour clore l’année, nous célébrons la persistance des communautés de danse au Canada et mettons en vedette certains films créés pendant la pandémie de COVID-19.

Janice Ellis in Kwasi Obeng’s Makhelwane / Photo courtesy of Obeng

 

Let’s Talk About Chronic Pain

By Sima Chowdhury

Experts discuss the healing powers of dance

In April, Sima Chowdhury wrote about her struggle with chronic pain after two car accidents and how she successfully healed through ballroom dance in an online column “Dancing Before Walking” for The Dance Current. To delve into the effects of dance on chronic pain, she now speaks with three experts in the field: Andrea de Almeida, a dance/movement therapist who works at the National Centre for Dance Therapy at Les Grands Ballet Canadiens de Montréal; Rebecca Barnstaple, who provides dance and movement programs for people with chronic pain, Parkinson’s disease and other conditions through the Chigamik Community Health Centre in Midland, Ontario; and Dani West, a physiotherapist at Indepth Physio in Calgary.

En avril, Sima Chowdhury a publié « Dancing Before Walking » sur le site du Dance Current. Dans l’article, elle décrit le défi de vivre avec la douleur chronique après deux accidents de voiture, et ainsi que sa guérison par le ballroom. Pour approfondir sa compréhension des effets de la danse sur la douleur chronique, elle a discuté avec trois experts : Andrea de Almeida, une danse-thérapeute qui travaille au Centre national de danse-thérapie des Grands Ballets Canadiens; Rebecca Barnstaple qui offre des programmes de danse et de mouvement aux personnes souffrant de douleur chronique, de Parkinson et autres conditions au Chigamik Community Health Centre à Midland, Ontario; et Dani West, une physiothérapeute à Indepth Physio à Calgary.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash

Departments

Editorial

By Grace Wells-Smith

I usually sit down to write this letter when the issue is nearly complete, and it always feels like I’m taking stock of how the issue has come together and what themes (planned or unplanned) have emerged. My goal is to offer a curatorial view of the work. 

This time, since this is the last issue of 2020, I feel like I have to take stock of the entire year. [Insert comment about how we won’t forget “these strange times.”] 

When I think about the dance industry this year, some things that come to mind are how the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted issues that have always existed; how the Black Lives Matter movement has highlighted issues that have always existed; and how people have been persisting and doing incredible work in the name of these issues whether they are stuck at home or not. 

Tracey Norman writes about one of these issues for our feature story. In July, she came across a Facebook post by Kathleen Rea noting the absence of artist-mothers since the onset of the pandemic. This inspired her to write about how the current times have magnified the lack of support for artist-parents, and how the absence of these parents will affect the industry’s future. 

Our “In Conversation” feature was facilitated by Sima Chowdhury and offers an excerpt from a conversation about how dance can positively affect chronic pain. Three experts discuss their work with dancers, with people who have never danced before and with kids. 

Ainsley Hawthorn profiles Shae-Lynn Bourne, a three-time Olympian ice dancer from Chatham, Ontario, who now works as a choreographer for top skaters around the world. She never expected to go into choreography, but she finds more joy in her work now that she no longer competes. 

And finally, to wrap up 2020, we wanted to showcase some of the dancefilms made during the pandemic. Our photo essay (the cover story) features a fraction of the submissions we received, so we’ve continued the list on thedancecurrent.com. 

As we head into a new year, please do not hesitate to let us know what you want to read and how we can do better for you.

Movers

Manifesting politics into drag
By Emily Latimer

Heath V. Salazar

Salazar is a Latinx writer and performer living in Toronto who performs as drag king Gay Jesus. They combine drag, theatre and politics to create what they call “protest pieces.” These are social commentaries packaged as performance art – a form of political engagement that Salazar says can communicate across class. They’ve been a part of the artist-in-residence program at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre since September 2018, and since the COVID-19 outbreak have been performing online. 

Read an online Q & A with Salazar here.

Salazar / Photo by Sly Pereira

Movers

Teaching and uplifting from the North
By Saad Rajper

Gurdeep Pandher

Pandher, a bhangra dancer living in Yukon, had been creating videos of himself dancing in various locations across Canada long before the COVID-19 pandemic began as a way to promote a message of diversity and inclusion. The videos have now gone viral.

Pandher / Photo by Christian Kuntz Photography

Check It Out

@danceprompts
By Anne Dion

Guillaume Loslier-Pinard makes a dancefilm a day

Since June 12th, Montréal-based dance artist Guillaume Loslier-Pinard has been posting a dancefilm a day on the Instagram account @danceprompts. The project launched in response to studio closures during the COVID-19 pandemic and will run for an entire year. 

Lucy Fandel and Loslier-Pinard / Photo courtesy of Loslier-Pinard

Inspire

What Lies Ahead?
By Patricia Allison

Dance artists predict what they think 2021 has in store

Everyone will remember the year the world shut down: 2020. As the pandemic swept across the country, dance moved from studios and theatres into living rooms and onto the internet. As this year of upheaval comes to an end, we take stock of everything around us and look towards the future. Patricia Allison speaks to Letabby Lexington, Julio Montero, Susanne Chui, Natasha Powell and Liz Winkelaar about what they think will come next.

Chui / Photo by Jeremy Mimnagh 

The List

Guinevere Last

What inspires Guinevere Last?

Last is an aerial instructor and director of creation at Halifax Circus. Most recently she directed and choreographed Turas Mara: A Journey by Sea (2019). She also directed and performed in the award-winning Fringe show Nautica: A Circus Sea Journey (2016). Last has performed at Halifax’s city-wide festival Nocturne: Art at Night, in 2015, 2016 and 2019. She is the artistic director of the mixed-media collective Ankura Arts. 

Last and Ethan Avila Ruiz / Photo by Erika Flake Photography 

Body

The difference between mobility and flexibility
By Erika Mayall

Vancouver-based dance physiotherapist, Erika Mayall, discusses the importance of differentiating between flexibility and mobility in dance.

Since the demands for increased flexibility in dance are unlikely to change in the near future, our approach to training mobility should. Mayall discusses the benefits of active mobility training and provides examples of modifications that can be made to common passive stretches. 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Practice

Hunger and Humility
By Brannavy Jeyasundaram

Nova Bhattacharya and Louis Laberge-Côté’s partnership avoids the fetishistic guise of “fusion dance”

There is a quality of whimsy and trust that defines Laberge-Côté and Bhattacharya’s nineteen-year artistic partnership, a pairing that transcends artistic disciplines and deliberately avoids the fetishistic guise of “fusion dance” or “East meets West.” The spirit of their collaboration lies in improvisational structures that bridge their movement vocabularies and personal histories.

Bhattacharya and Laberge-Côté in Akshongay / Photos by John Lauener 

Poetry

serenade
By Kendra Guidolin

Lay yourself down to breathe with watery lungs. An astringent soak drowns sweat stains. Seeps through darkened cotton outlines. Inhale to hold it all in; don’t let your skin’s wetness spread. My arid lips meet yours onstage, and

my tongue backstage. Peel off layers to let them air-dry, to save your skin from wrinkling, losing its taut elastic. Tape up those burst blisters with liquid skin. Spritz mint Biotène. Wash it all down with nitrogen and tonic. Watch for the cue

and leave the shower running all nightto steam out the kinks in the crinoline.

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