Embrace Adventure with Deanne Bingleman: The Mad World of Cell Phones

In the weeks leading up to Guelph Dance Festival 2014, some of the Festival artists will share their vision with us here on the blog. These intimate, behind-the-scenes looks will bring us closer to the artistry, process, and experience of dance. We encourage you to not just read these amazing stories, but to ask questions and engage in conversation about dance in our comments section below. Embrace adventure with us in 2014!

Deeanne Bingleman joins the Guelph Dance Festival for the first time with her Renaissance School of the Arts Dance Company, who will perform at Youth Moves, Sunday June 1 at 4pm. Tickets are available through the River Run Centre Box Office.

Deeanne: Sometimes things in life smack me in the face, and, in a positive way from an artistic perspective, haunt me until I create a dance about them to get them out of my system. Lo and behold Mad World. The constant bombardment of people allowing themselves to be interrupted by these gadgets, people checking them obsessively, walking into people, having car accidents from the “need” to text made me feel like I was the observer looking into a fish bowl of chaos. I failed to understand this need people have developed to be attached and observed quietly for a long while. 

Taxi drivers thanked me for talking to them. I finally asked one of my regular drivers about this new policy and he replied “it isn’t a policy, it’s just no one talks anymore, people get in the car, mumble addresses and then don’t say a word for the rest of the ride because they have something in their hand they are working on etc.” Then I started noticing that students become fatigued more quickly, and wondered what changed. They, too, were attached to the constant goings on in friends’ and aquaintances’ lives through these gadgets. Deep down the buzz of a “dance evolving” was coming on.  

The final moment that pushed me to actually start creating was being at the Conestoga Mall in the middle of the week, and the food court was packed at 11:00 am, which I thought felt weird for a non-holiday time. But even more weird was that I only heard the clangs of the food preparers. Despite the food court being packed, no one was talking. NO ONE! To this day it sends shivers down my spine. I knew Mad World was born.

The “Mad World” dancers in rehearsal.

Deeanne: I decided to set the dance on the dancers without the phones. They didn’t know about the phones originally, they just knew there was a “twist” to the dance. Week after week, they excitedly came up with inventive guesses of what I was going to do to the dance but no one ever guessed phones. When we finally finished the dance and they were told the “twist” no one believed me, because I’m not wired up and still proudly own a flip phone. At first they were excited about the concept, and I think they still are, but over time we’ve also had reflections on what their own “Mad Worlds” are. It was eye-opening for me: despite the conveniences these gadgets bring, the dancers were also  saddened that things like parties, sleepovers, and just hanging out are forever changed by these things. Some have consciously tried to become less attached from their gadgets in pursuit of a real human experience. That is part of my goal with this dance: to see the connection of humanity through the ones that don’t have a phone versus the things that are important for those with the gadgets. It is worrisome that children are becoming more attached to these objects than being a child and having a human interaction.

Renaissance School of the Arts dancers posing with their gadgets.

Deanne: I feel honoured to have students who, despite their world of gadgets, have been very receptive to this journey and we look forward to bringing it to fruition at GDF!

Deanne Bingleman’s life mission is to bring positive dance and drama experiences to as many people in as many nooks and crannies she can find or that find her. Deeanne earned her BA Dance from the University of Waterloo in 1995, is a Leading Edge KW Arts Award recipient 1998, and is one of two Canadians certified in the Maor Dance Workout 2013. Deeanne is the Artisitc Director of act OUT – a teaching theatre program in KW – and she has helped build the dance program at Renaissance School of the Arts. Deeanne is thrilled with the growth of these unique educational programs where she welcomes EVERY body. www.renaissanceschoolofthearts.com

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