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Liliona Quarmyne in her own work Woman, Walking / Photo by Jameelah Rahey
 

Searching for Questions

By Michael Lake

Working in the realms of art and social justice, Liliona Quarmyne is a choreographer with more questions than answers. Michael Lake explores her philosophical approach to choreography.

Hailing from Ghana, Quarmyne describes herself as a “contemporary African artist,” although she makes sure to note that she is foremost an inquisitive person. Working in the realms of art and social justice, Quarmyne moved on to Montréal in 2002, where she became involved with Compagnie Danse Nyata Nyata, citing Zab Maboungou as a great influence on her work. From Montréal, Quarmyne moved to Antigonish, Nova Scotia, where the new distance from the vibrant arts culture of Montréal changed the kind of work she could create: living in a smaller place resulted in a stronger focus on her work as a solo artist. In June of 2017, Quarmyne choreographed a piece for the Global Water Dances Project, an initiative for which over 100 performances were created around the world to highlight local water issues. Her contribution was inspired by the Shubenacadie River in Nova Scotia, which is under threat due to plans to create natural gas storage caverns. The piece was created in collaboration with Denise John, a Mi’kmaq artist and Dorene Bernard, a grassroots grandmother and activist. 

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La militante et chorégraphe Liliona Quarmyne cultivent les questions plutôt que les réponses. Née au Ghana, elle s’identifie comme « artiste contemporaine africaine » et sa curiosité est le moteur de sa pratique. Elle déménage à Montréal en 2002, où elle se joint à la Compagnie Danse Nyata Nyata ; la directrice artistique Zab Maboungou deviendra une influence importante. Quarmyne se relocalise ensuite à Antigonish, Nouvelle-Écosse. Loin de la scène vibrante montréalaise, elle adapte sa chorégraphie à la taille de la communauté et se penche sur la forme solo. En juin 2017, l’artiste crée une pièce pour Global Water Dances, une initiative qui présente plus de 100 spectacles à travers le monde pour sensibiliser les peuples aux questions régionales liées à l’eau. Elle s’inspire de la rivière Shubenacadie, menacée par la construction prochaine de cavernes de stockage de gaz naturel. Pour cette danse, elle travaille en collaboration avec l’artiste mi’kmaq Denise John, et la grand-mère communautaire (grassroots grandmother) Dorene Bernard.
 

Liliona Quarmyne in her own work Woman, Walking / Photo by Jameelah Rahey

Members of Empirical Freedom: Aimedee Gunnink, Ceniza Aviles, Nyasha Nyamaka (back), Albert Mejia, Amy Plett (back), Oliver Reyes, Rachel Forbes and RheAnna Houston / Photo by Glen Co Photography
 

Resistance and Resiliance

By Lucy M. May, Vladimir "7Starr" Laurore

How Krumpers across the country are shaping their communities through advocacy.

In the early 2000s, independent of one another and within different cities, a handful of Canadian dancers, athletes and artists were struck by images of a street dance emerging in the inner cities of Los Angeles. Krump is a street dance of resistance and resilience, notorious for its aggressive characterization, exceptional speed of execution and body control, musical asymmetries and theatricality. While Krump exploded across the world, a new dance community was being born in Canada. Without direct access to teachers, Canadian dancers began decoding Krump from videos found on YouTube – following young California residents, who were crafting the form from an amalgam of “hip hop clowning,” ballet, theatre and gang culture. Krump dancing, also known as “wildin’” or “buckin’,” was transforming violence in the environment. Northern neighbours strove to catch up with this way of being and moving. Groups called fams — the groups of dancers or “families” allied together to develop a style under the leadership of a more experienced “big homie.” Krumpers across the country advocate that their dance is a tool for personal growth. 

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Au début des années 2000, une poignée d’artistes de danse et d’athlètes de différentes villes, sans liens entre eux, ont été frappés par les images d’une danse de rue émergente des quartiers pauvres de Los Angèle. Le Krump est une danse de résistance et de résilience, caractérisée par l’agressivité, la grande vitesse, la maitrise du corps, l’asymétrie musicale et la théâtralité. Alors que le style explose partout dans le monde, une nouvelle communauté en danse se forme au Canada. Sans accès direct à des enseignants, les artistes commencent à décoder le Krump à partir de vidéos publiées sur YouTube ; ils suivent les Californiens qui façonnent leur expression avec un amalgame « d’imitation du hip-hop », de ballet, de théâtre et de culture de gang. La danse Krump, aussi connue comme « wildin’ » ou « buckin’ » transforme la violence et les quartiers au Nord ont voulu émuler ce mode de vie. Des groupes de danseurs nommés « fams » ou « familles » se sont alliés pour développer un style sous la direction d’un « big homie » avec plus d’expérience. Les Krumpers partout au pays soutiennent que leur danse est un outil de croissance personnelle.
 

Members of Empirical Freedom: Aimedee Gunnink, Ceniza Aviles, Nyasha Nyamaka (back), Albert Mejia, Amy Plett (back), Oliver Reyes, Rachel Forbes and RheAnna Houston / Photo by Glen Co Photography

James Joselh Phillips (front) and Lise McMillan in Olafson's Consistent Partial Attention / Photo by Josh Dookhie Photography
 

The Virtual is Sensual

By Hilary Bergen

What potential do new augmented reality technologies have for dance? Hilary Bergen investigates how VR and AR technologies can facilitate partnerships between dancers and programmers – bringing about new sensations, stimulating the imagination and re-enchanting our perceptions.

In dance, human bodies have typically been seen as antithetical to interactive technologies. Dance works that utilize responsive or interactive media, in partnership with human performers, have been accused of disembodying or even dehumanizing dance. Nonetheless, as an art form dance has never just been about the body; it is and has always been an assemblage of various media that appeal to several senses through lighting, costumes, and music, the combination of which produces effects that enhance the performing body. What potential do new augmented reality technologies have for dance performers? What is it about dance that makes it a good pairing with immersive or composite environments? And, from the viewer’s perspective, how do virtual reality and augmented reality change the point of view for audiences? This feature article explores these questions. 

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En danse, le corps et les technologies interactives sont traditionnellement compris comme antithétiques. Les créations qui conjuguent les médias réactifs et interactifs avec des interprètes en chair et en os ont été accusées de désincarner, voire de déshumaniser l’art. Néanmoins, la chorégraphie a toujours embrassé plus large que le corps ; elle le met en valeur par l’assemblage d’éléments qui excitent les sens comme l’éclairage, le costume ou la musique. Quel potentiel les techniques de réalité augmentée apportent-elles à la danse ? Dans quels contextes la chorégraphie se prête-t- elle aux environnements composites ou immersifs ? Comment la réalité virtuelle et augmentée change-t- elle l’expérience du spectateur ? Hilary Bergen se penche sur les nouveaux partenariats entre artistes de danse et programmateurs. Bien qu’elles soient difficiles d’accès sans les ressources financières et l’expertise, ces technologies en dialogue avec l’art du geste permettent des sensations inédites, stimulent l’imagination et réenchantent la perception.
 

James Joselh Phillips (front) and Lise McMillan in Olafson’s Consistent Partial Attention / Photo by Josh Dookhie Photography

Anjali Patil / Photo by Devansh Jhaveri
 

Training and Tradition

By Aparita Bhandari

Three artists discuss their complicated relationships to technique.

Whether it’s a matter of a maturing Canadian dance scene or because of the plethora of dancers sharing their work on accessible social media platforms, the boundaries of what’s being taught in Canadian dance schools and what’s being seen on Canadian stages are expanding. 

There are conversations ongoing within the dance community about what exactly constitutes contemporary dance, or why other forms of dance techniques or pedagogy aren’t given the same weight as ballet or modern dance. There are also questions being raised around how to evaluate students who may hail from different techniques of training backgrounds, around who is encouraged to dance and about whether dance institutions such as ballet schools encourage a diversity of bodies amongst their student population.

Still, when it comes to evaluating dance performances, whether in an academic setting or as part of a jury-process for arts grants and other funding applications, it is typically the ballet or contemporary dance yardstick against which dancers are measured. I spoke to a range of dancers and teachers to find out their thoughts on whether these traditional forms of training should still be used as the basis for instruction and for evaluating technique.

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Que ce soit en raison d’une maturation du milieu au Canada, ou de la pléthore de danseurs qui partagent leur travail sur les médias sociaux, la danse repousse ses anciennes frontières formelles sur les scènes et dans les écoles.
 
Des discussions soutenues dans la communauté portent sur la définition exacte de la danse contemporaine, et les raisons pour lesquelles elle prime encore, avec le ballet, les autres techniques et approches pédagogiques. Comment évaluer les élèves de parcours variés ? Qui est encouragé à danser ? Les institutions comme les écoles de ballets favorisent-elles une diversité dans les corps au sein de la population étudiante ? Et pour l’appréciation des spectacles dans un contexte académique ou sur un comité de financement, force est de constater que le ballet et la danse contemporaine demeurent les étalons.
 
Ici, la rédactrice Aparita Bhandari demande à BaKari I. Lindsay, à Tekaronhiáhkhwa Santee Smith et à Anjali Patil si ces formes traditionnelles peuvent encore servir de base pour l’enseignement et l’évaluation technique.
 

Anjali Patil / Photo by Devansh Jhaveri

Departments

Emma Doran /  Photo by John Carvalho

Editorial

By Emma Doran

I first picked up the The Dance Current off the lobby coffee table at the School of Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers. I soon realized how little I knew about the history of my own practice and the artists creating work across the country. It’s not an overstatement to say that the magazine inspired me to continue my studies in dance. As a contributor to the magazine for over a decade, it’s a thrilling challenge to curate its pages. 

The current moment is a captivating time to engage in dance dialogue. I began in this position a week before the word appropriation was brought to the forefront of Canadian magazine publishing, adding fuel to the conversation about not only who is represented within a magazine but also who is writing in it. With my colleagues, I am working toward continuing to broaden who is writing about dance in Canada. 

Each of the features in the magazine reflects, in one way or another, changing paradigms for dancers, dance creators and viewers. Hilary Bergen’s feature explores the intersections of dance and augmented reality technologies. Challenging the commonly held fear that technologies will render embodied experiences obsolete, Bergen outlines how Canadian dance artists are discovering ways to highlight sensory experiences through technological interaction. 

Halifax-based artist Liliona Quarmyne, the subject of our feature profile, makes work that intersects activism and social justice. Michael Lake details her recent contribution to a project inspired by the Shubenacadie River environmental crisis in Nova Scotia. The work was part of the Global Water Dances project, an initiative for which over 100 performances were created around the world to highlight local water issues. 

In the photo essay writer Lucy May, with editorial advisor Vladimir “7Starr” Laurore, shares how Krump made its way to Canada from the inner city of Los Angeles, through TV and YouTube channels, and how it is being harnessed for youth advocacy across the country. The essay is a fit companion to our Influences piece by Jillian Groening, in which she interviewed dance artists who use social media to share work, exploring how this platform has allowed them to rethink how they represent and present their work. 

Finally, as more artists are looking for alternative vocabularies in their own artistic practice, we ask, in which contexts is classical training still relevant? Aparita Bhandari spoke with established dance creators, who each articulated their complicated relationships in relation to training, technique and evaluation. The article is meant as a preliminary discussion that I hope will widen to include a range of voices – including perspectives that address which bodies might be left out when strictly adhering to classical forms. 

Let’s bring these conversations to life this fall. In this vein, I encourage writers and artists to reach out, share their work and collaborate with The Dance Current.

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Emma Doran / Photo by John Carvalho

Emma Kerson and Andrew Hartley in l’inanité des bibelots : love would only slow me down (Blue Valentine) by Simon Renaud / Photo by Jeremy Mimnagh Photography

Movers

Complex Textures
By Helen Simard

Complex Textures: Simon Renaud

Between dancing for companies like Daniel Léveillé Danse, Dancemakers and Ottawa Dance Directive (ODD), as well as presenting his own work, Simon Renaud has established himself as one of Québec’s up-and-coming contemporary dance artists. Honest and self-reflexive, Renaud sees dance as a powerful medium that reaches far beyond the realm of the aesthetic into everyday life, influencing our ways of doing and being together in the world. “I’m interested in meeting and working with new people, and in having difficult discussions. Dance is an excuse to do that.”

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Emma Kerson and Andrew Hartley in l’inanité des bibelots / love would only slow me down (Blue Valentine) by Simon Renaud / Photo by Jeremy Mimnagh Photography

Arlyssa McArthur / Photo by Annalise Chwok

Movers

A Versatile Newcomer
By Grace Smith

Shumka company member Arlyssa McArthur

“Dancing with Shumka is definitely a unique experience!” says nineteen-year-old Arlyssa McArthur, a new full-time company member of Canada’s Ukrainian Shumka Dancers, based out of Edmonton. After auditioning for the company in June 2016, McArthur was accepted as a probationary member before becoming a fulltime member in March of this year – a hire that came shortly before the appointment of the company’s new artistic team, with former company member and artistic associate Joseph Hoffman taking the reins as artistic director.

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Arlyssa McArthur / Photo by Annalise Chwok

Francesca Chudnoff in a still from her video ALGIA, costume created by Driftnote

Inspire

Video Feedback
By Jillian Groening

How DIY screen dance is changing the way we create

For many dancers, getting behind or in front of the camera has allowed them to find community, independence and artistic voice. By utilizing social media platforms, or by running their own YouTube or Vimeo channels, movement artists are breaking the rules around how performance work is presented and viewed.

Video screen dance artists Francesca Chudnoff, Nita Bowerman and Jaime Robinson share their perspectives on creating and presenting DIY videos. 

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Francesca Chudnoff in a still from her video ALGIA, costume created by Driftnote

Susie Burpee in Cotton Handkercheifs and Dog's Tears by Tedd Robinson (2017) / Photo by Leif Norman

List

Susie Burpee
By Susie Burpee

A quarter-century of inspiration

For Susie Burpee, 2017 marks twenty-five years of working in contemporary dance. “I feel both the past and future asking to be considered as I look at the direction of the next chapter of my life.”

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Susie Burpee in Cotton Handkercheifs and Dog’s Tears by Tedd Robinson (2017) / Photo by Leif Norman

Nigel Edwards / Photo by Francesca Chudnoff

Body

Hands in Motion
By Darryl Tracy

Curiosity, receptivity and expressivity

The late actor Sir Laurence Olivier once remarked that “The actor should be able to create the universe in the palm of his hand.” For Tracey, this is equally true for dancers. In his teaching practice he emphasizes three aspects of hand articulation: curiosity, receptivity and expressivity.

Read Tracy’s 5 Tips for Hand Articulation

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Nigel Edwards / Photo by Francesca Chudnoff

Photo courtesy of Ng

Dancer's Kitchen

Yvonne's Breakfast
By Yvonne Ng

Purple rice and mango salad

One night, while needing a diversion, Yvonne Ng began flipping TV channels and came across a recipe from Jamie Oliver. This revised version is similar to a dessert she grew up with, made with purple rice and called Pulot Hitam (which means black pudding).

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Photo courtesy of Ng

Students of the Gulf Islands Secondary School Dance Department in Langer's piece Blindness / Photo by John Cameron

Practice

September Support
By Sarah Lochhead

Suggestions for dance educators

The Dance Current asked dance educators working in school boards to share advice for new educators. The advice rings true regardless of experience or where your practice takes you.

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Students of the Gulf Islands Secondary School Dance Department in Langer’s piece Blindness / Photo by John Cameron

Photo courtesy of Hon

What's In Your Dancebag?

Ming Hon

Packing for a performance (and the end of the world)

Ming Hon is an independent dancer, choreographer and performance artist based in Winnipeg – a graduate of the School of Contemporary Dancers Senior Professional Program. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Winnipeg, she found a loophole that afforded her a slim chance of winning the crown for Miss Hong Kong 2003. Thinking she could secretly undermine the pageantry and its fanfare of endorsements, the judges proved her wrong and were not interested. In her practice Hon explores themes of work, labour, leisure, luxury, capitalism and the economy and politics of the female body.

Hon is in the midst of preparing for a new solo show, Only the Dead Wear Shoes to Bed, based on the narrative of a person in a hotel who luxuriates in the parameters of a standard queen room. For the audience it is slowly revealed that the room is an idyllic imagined refuge from the world outside, pre-apocalyptic, war stricken and blazing from environmental disaster. 

What does one pack for a trip to the end of the world?

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Photo courtesy of Hon

Advertisment for The Satie Project with illustration by Bennathan

From Our Archives

Serge Bennathan

Revisiting The Satie Project

It’s been over a decade since Serge Bennathan left his position as artistic director at Dancemakers Centre for Creation in 2006. In the October 2002 issue of The Dance Current, Amy Bowring, director of collections and research at Dance Collection Danse, wrote a feature article detailing Bennathan’s creative process in the making of The Satie Project. The Dance Current talks to Bennathan about his recent work. 

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Advertisment for The Satie Project with illustration by Bennathan

Daniel Alwell / Photo by Gaëlle Le Rebeller

Check It Out

Meet your Mentor
By Marissa Trarback

A digital platform for artistic development

There are many different kinds of obstacles when it comes to starting a career in the arts. Having a mentor – someone to discuss opportunities and career choices with – can make all the difference, but finding the right fit for a productive, fulfilling mentor-mentee relationship can be intimidating and time-consuming.

Mentorly, a website and soon to be app co-founded by dancer Ashley Werhun, of Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal, and filmmaker Katherine Macnaughton, aims to streamline how professional and emerging artists connect.

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Daniel Alwell / Photo by Gaëlle Le Rebeller

Les Grands Ballets / Photo by Sasha Onyshchenko

Backstage

Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal
By Emma Kerson

Un grand changement

Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal is welcoming Ivan Cavallari as their new artistic director commencing in their 2017/18 season. As the company bids goodbye to the departing Gradimir Pankov, who spent eighteen seasons with the company, they are readying their double bill of Edward Clug’s Stabat MATER, an interpretation of Pergolesi’s baroque music, and Uwe Scholz’s choreography of Beethoven’s Seventh. 

The Italian-born Cavallari has had an acclaimed performance career, collaborating with noteworthy choreographers including William Forsythe, Jiří Kylián and John Cranko. He has worked as artistic director for the West Australian Ballet (2007-2012) and Ballet de l’Opéra national du Rhin (2013-2017). 

The opportunity to work with Les Grands is one that Cavallari describes as posing “infinite challenges” but also “infinite chances.” With an affinity for physically versatile dancers, Cavallari views the company’s future as one without limits. “We do art, we don’t do styles.”

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Les Grands Ballets / Photo by Sasha Onyshchenko

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