Arriving at dance relatively late, Davida Monk has nonetheless fostered important communities and cultures for dance in Western Canada.
Davida Monk has had a multi-faceted career in dance. In her thirty-five years in the profession she has been a performer, a choreographer, a teacher, an artistic director, mentor, curator, presenter, producer and an advocate for dance in Western Canada. Her commitment to the form began while studying with Peter Boneham in Ottawa, continued through stints studying in New York City, and eventually led to a teaching post in the University of Calgary’s department of dance. Monk discusses the challenges and rewards of producing and creating dance in Alberta and about the integral role played by landscape, nature and music in her current company m-body.
Davida Monk a une carrière plurielle en danse. En trente-cinq ans de carrière, elle a été danseuse, chorégraphe, enseignante, directrice artistique, mentor, commissaire, diffuseur, productrice et bâtisseuse pour la danse dans l’ouest du Canada. Son engagement dans la discipline commence alors qu’elle étudie auprès de Peter Boneham à Ottawa et se poursuit avec des périodes d’études à New York et un poste de professeur dans le département de danse à l’Université de Calgary. Monk revient sur les défis et la richesse de produire et créer la danse en Alberta, et sur l’importance du paysage, de la nature et de la musique dans sa compagnie, m-body.
Davida Monk in From One Country to Another (2013) by Lee Su-Feh / Photo by Don Hall
Contra and country dancing have been practiced for centuries. We joined one group in Toronto to investigate why the social dance persists. It turns out that it is a strong community and by joining in, one immediately feels a part of it. And it’s really fun!
It’s impossible to capture a dance in images but this photo essay, with images by Simon Chambers and Andrew Morris and select quotes from the Toronto Country Dancers, gets at what contra dance is really all about – good, clean, social fun.
Photo by Simon Chambers
In what is often considered a male-dominated dance form, a new generation of bgirls carves out alternative modes of expression, dismantling stereotypes and pushing the boundaries of the form as they go.
Professor Mary Fogarty addresses some of the realities of being a woman in a male-dominated dance practice, while considering how this practice is underpinned by a society where men dancing are often considered deviant in their own right. As a practising bgirl who has spent years interviewing bboys and bgirls from various countries about every imaginable aspect of their practices and lifestyles, in this article Fogarty continues to unearth new questions about the lives of female dance artists in Canada today. Studying the arts from a sociological perspective, she reveals street dancers living in a time when their dance form is becoming increasingly codified and institutionalized, and yet, continuously questioned in terms of its legitimacy and status as an art form.
La professeure Mary Fogarty se penche sur quelques-unes des réalités auxquelles se confrontent les femmes dans une forme de danse dominée par les hommes, le hip-hop. Et ce, dans une pratique sous-tendue par une société où les hommes en danse sont associés à une certaine déviance. Fogarty est une bgirl chevronnée qui a passé des années à interviewer des bboy et bgirl de différents pays sur tous les aspects imaginables de leur art et régime de vie. Avec un axe d’étude sociologique, elle continue à soulever de nouvelles questions sur les femmes artistes qui travaillent au Canada aujourd’hui. Elle révèle que malgré que la danse de rue devienne de plus en plus codifiée et institutionnalisée, sa légitimité et son statut artistique sont toujours remis en question.
Kate “Lynx” Alsterlund / Photo by Ron Harris
Mentorship creates opportunities for emerging artists to benefit from the wealth of experience that established artists carry within themselves. But mature artists also get something out of the relationship. By encouraging them to stay connected to developments within the field, mentors gain insight about emerging trends and realities while transmitting valuable knowledge about the changing history of life as a dancer.
In 2011, The Canadian Senior Artists’ Resource Network (CSARN) was launched to provide support to our senior artists and recognize their substantial contribution to our country’s cultural and economic well-being. Since January 2014, a mentorship program pairing interested senior artists with artists at earlier stages of their careers is among the services offered by the organization. Emerging performer Amanda Davis and Canadian dance veteran Claudia Moore, both based in Toronto, are participants in the program. Davis holds a BFA in dance from Ryerson University and is currently rehearsing with Alias Dance Project. Moore, active as a performer since the early 1970s, is the artistic director of MOonhORsE dance theatre and producer of the Older & Reckless series. Somehow, years apart, the two women have walked comparable paths and interestingly, the two share uncannily similar mannerisms. Engaged in an arranged six-month mentorship sponsored by CSARN, they discuss their experience thus far.
En 2011, le Centre de ressources pour les artistes aînés du Canada (CRAAC) a été mis sur pied pour soutenir les artistes aînés et reconnaître leur importante contribution au bien-être culturel et économique du pays. Depuis janvier 2014, les services du CRAAC comptent un programme de mentorat qui réunit des artistes aînés avec des artistes en début de parcours. La danseuse émergente Amanda Davis et la vétérane canadienne de danse Claudia Moore, les deux établis à Toronto, participent au programme. Davis a un baccalauréat en danse de l’Université Ryerson et répète actuellement avec Alias Dance Project. Moore, interprète depuis le début des années 1970, est directrice artistique de MOonhORsE Dance Theatre et productrice de la série Older & Reckless. Et d’une certaine façon, malgré une différence d’âge marquée, les deux femmes ont des parcours semblables, partageant même certains comportements. Engagées dans un processus de mentorat de six mois parrainé par le CRAAC, elles jasent de leur expérience jusque-là.
Claudia Moore and Amanda Davis / Photo by Marie France Forcier
One Saturday night this past January, Managing Editor Brittany Duggan and I ventured out into the cold with a few friends to join the Toronto Country Dancers for a night of contra dancing. In the church hall of St. Barnabas on the Danforth, we were welcomed into the joyous world of contra dance. After three hours of dancing figures like the allemande, the gypsy, the hey for four, the dosido, and swinging and circling our many partners and neighbours, our cheeks tired from smiling so much, we headed to the pub for a well-deserved pint. Although the photo essay, “Sensing the Common Good,” gives you a feel for the spirit of contra, why not get a group of friends together to try contra dance in your own community? We want to thank photographer Simon Chambers and Andrew Morris for their help in creating this piece, and the dancers who participated and allowed us to photograph them.
In this issue, Dr. Mary Fogarty’s feature article “Breaking Bad: The New Bgirls,” explores how bgirls create spaces of female resistance within hip hop culture. Fogarty reminds us of the myriad ways that feminism persists as a tool for understanding subcultures and as a mechanism for asking complex questions about subjectivity and identity. This issue also features a profile of one of Western Canada’s dance agitators, Davida Monk; while one of the pillars of dance in Toronto, Claudia Moore, talks with emerging artist Amanda Davis about their mentorship, which was arranged through the Canadian Senior Artists’ Resource Network. Enjoy!
Vancouver’s Alexander Andison is adjusting to the joys and challenges of dancing away from home. The young artist is in his first year of a BFA at the Juilliard School in New York City and was the student recipient of the 2014/2015 Chrystal Dance Prize. The prize, administered by Dance Victoria, supports a dancer from Western Canada studying at an international institution. From the age of twelve, Andison trained extensively in ballet and modern techniques at Arts Umbrella. After his grade eleven year, Andison decided that dancing was his future and started training in summer programs at the San Francisco Ballet and in New York, helping to earn him a place at Juilliard. Now, living away for the first time, Andison is being exposed to new influences that are expanding his outlook on life and dance.
Meagan O’Shea’s effervescence is contagious. Even over the phone, the day following a “significant” birthday, she can barely contain her excitement about what 2015 has in store. With a showcase at the end of January as part of Dance Victoria’s Dance Days and an upcoming DanceWorks co-production at the Theatre Centre in Toronto in April, the Ottawa-born independent artist has much to look forward to.
Contemporary dancer Carol Prieur has travelled the world since birth. Raised in France, Ireland and on Canada’s West Coast, Prieur eventually settled in Montréal but is never long at anchor. She’s wandered over nearly every inhabited continent on the globe, performing with Compagnie Marie Chouinard, Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie and Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers and has collaborated with many independent Canadian dancemakers. Anyone encountering Prieur’s passion will recognize her as a shaman of dance. Prieur’s personal investment in dance is second to none; she spends countless hours plunged deep in her practice, and still makes time to engage tirelessly with her community.
DanceNL (Newfoundland and Labrador’s provincial dance association), Creative Gros Morne and Memorial University of Newfoundland hosted Karen Kaeja as their first dancer-in-residence. A creative force, Kaeja delved generously and wholeheartedly into the residency. “I was given a wide-open slate to dream up and institute projects in what I consider to be the most stunning province in our country,” she says. Process was key during the residency and, she notes, “this was a very gracious encounter for a hungry dance artist, allowing me to be awkward and imperfect, to take joy in the effort and chaos, and to find meaningfulness in all the infinite mishaps and gems.”
Dancers often complain about their IT bands. The IT band is a connective tissue that attaches from the iliac crest in your pelvis to your tibia at the knee – thus the “iliotibial band.” It functions to stabilize your supporting leg. This band also attaches to muscles that support your knee, working with the muscles in the front and back of your thigh. When the band becomes tight or shortens, it tugs on the lateral side of the knee and can cause misalignment, which can lead to even more serious injuries.
By Larissa Swayze
The University of Alberta has a dungeon, but instead of holding prisoners – it holds memories. The affectionately dubbed “dance dungeon” is home to the archives of Orchesis, the university’s modern and jazz dance group. Current director Tamara Bliss has spent many hours in the dusty storage room of late, poring over photos and dance-related paraphernalia in preparation for Orchesis’ fiftieth anniversary celebration.