For the First Time, the Fluid Dance Festival Focuses on Local Artists

The pandemic is allowing the festival to discover the power in cultivating a local community

This article is published through our Regional Reporter Program. We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts through the Digital Now initiative.


The longest-running dance festival in Calgary, Fluid Festival, is doing things differently this year. The festival usually hosts international and national dance companies, but for the first time, this year’s lineup boasts only local artists.

In previous festivals, local artists have often been relegated to the cabaret presentation, in a local bar, in a casual atmosphere. Now these artists will be the primary presentation. Springboard Performance, the company that presents the Fluid Festival, is also adapting so that the performances can be enjoyed not only in person but also online until Nov. 7.

The local focus is giving the presenting company the space to contemplate some big questions: What does it mean to develop work in your community? What does it mean to be part of a local, national and international arts community? What is the significance of presenting a festival in the context of a global climate crisis?

“I think we’re starting to see what it means to cultivate community locally and then how that art can play a part in a national and international conversation,” said Nicole Mion, the artistic director of Springboard.

Fluid Festival will feature four projects from artists who are inspired and impacted by living in Alberta, specifically in Calgary. Three curators have joined Mion in bringing communities together for the festival.

Indigenous Joy is curated by AJ Kluck, the audience and marketing co-ordinator at Springboard Performance. A cabaret of short performances focusing on happiness, this showcase features Indigenous Queer artists.

“I wanted to be able to create a space to allow all these beautiful artists to just think and make work about things that make them happy, with the larger goal of showing our community that this expression of joy is an act of resistance,” said Kluck. “It’s really coming out as resistance against the idea of asking Indigenous people to only perform trauma.”

The second showcase, TrümmerDances, curated by Mion, focuses on societal collapse. It’s an invitation to listen as artists explore collapsing the past, present and future and deciding what’s best to leave behind and what to embrace. These works are informed by the changes due to COVID-19.

Jocelyn Mah curated the third showcase, entitled Synergy Set: A Music-Movement Cabaret, featuring musical and dance artists. The performances are all inspired by the term synergism, meaning the interaction or co-operation of two or more organizations, substances or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.

To close, Vogue Mapping, taking place online only, is a collaboration between Springboard Performance, Vogue YYC, the Calgary Institute for Humanities and the Calgary Atlas Project. Vogue Mapping is a unique collaborative project that is inspired by the Calgary Atlas Project’s A Queer Map: A Guide to LGBTQ+ History in Calgary.

In this presentation, audience members can explore a digital map of Calgary that depicts LGBTQ+ history, which is usually kept hidden in this city. The map contains 25 sites of importance and 16 site-specific dance performances: interpretations of the rich history, stories that are usually untold.

“We’re learning and recognizing these places of significance and viewing them with a contemporary lens. The body holds history; communities hold history in different kinds of ways,” said Mion.

“We’ve changed as a society. We have to recognize that. But we still need to be fed emotionally and spiritually by art, just on new terms. These new terms consider Black Lives Matter and consider the environment and consider the truth. The body tells the truth.”