In addition to her role as community investment officer for Calgary Arts Development, Calgary-based dance artist Melissa Tuplin has an independent practice as a solo choreographer, as a teacher and as a member of the interdisciplinary collective Dancing Monkey Laboratories. Her dancebag reflects her keen eye for research, preparation and documentation.
I am a persistent overpacker. I carry a large, overstuffed weekender bag with me to festivals and choreographic intensives. I only work on dance projects once or twice a year, while focusing on my career as an arts administrator, so when I am choreographing, it’s research and time intensive. I live out of this bag!
I don’t go anywhere without my bullet journal to keep track of my life. I also have a dedicated journal for each project I work on, and I usually carry a stack of books (in the shoe pocket of my bag) for the works I’m creating and for inspiration (Feelings are Facts by Yvonne Rainer is a must-read!). When I’m working on a piece with my collective, I carry three copies of the script, one for each hat I wear: choreographer, dancer, director.
I carry an iPad mini in a folio, my iPhone, headphones and a charger. My independent choreographic practice is as a solo performer, so I use the iPad to record rehearsals. The larger screen makes it easier to review choreography when I don’t have a rehearsal director in the room.
I’m a triple-layer dancer. I always have multiple pairs of socks and legwarmers, a toque and a blanket scarf. I bundle up and huddle in the corner of the studio to make notes, stretch and snooze.
I am notoriously bad at taking care of myself. (I don’t think dancers are supposed to admit that!) I’d survive on coffee if I could, so I keep a meal replacement drink, some chocolate and a granola bar in my bag in case of a “hangry” emergency.
A stocked bag with first aid essentials, my medication and a bottle of painkillers and various “dancer detritus” ensure that I’m ready for whatever might happen in the studio. I also carry a small makeup bag and some perfume. Sometimes it’s easier to choreograph with lipstick on, and a little spritz of scent makes me feel like a human when I leave the studio.
Tuplin was featured in the September/October issue for her performance in Dancers’ Studio West’s Alberta Dance Festival, running September 8 through 18.
Dancing Monkey Laboratories released The Void, a short dance film based on their new performance piece, Humanoid — A LOVE SUPREME, which will be shared on December 1.