Embrace Adventure with Julia Aplin: BLiP

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!

Julia Aplin has choreographed a collaborative piece between Perpetual Motion Youth Company, Swansea School of Dance, and YMI Dancing. She shares with us some journal entries about the piece, which will be performed at Youth Moves, Sunday June 1 at 4pm. Tickets are available through the River Run Centre Box Office.

JuliaBLiP is an interconnected dance work that brings together three dance companies in an exciting new collaboration. BLiP is about creating connections, appreciating differences and understanding how all living things need each other. The work is choreographed to allow each company to shine and to create moments of unity between the groups.
“Blip” is “something that is small that does not last a long time”. In the big picture our Universe, life as we know it has not been around for very long and individual lives are a mere blip. Yet, we each are a beautiful, essential part of the whole picture. This piece celebrates the profound importance of each blip of life in our world.

Some early sketches from Julia’s BLiP workbook.
Entry 2: Went into an amazing fabric store today. I had to focus myself to get only the black, 4-way stretch. Enough to make 25 balaclavas. 25 BALACLAVAS! Now, to me that seems like an unusual request but the sales lady didn’t bat an eye when I showed her the hooded sample and I asked how many thousands of yards I would need.

Entry 3: Here’s my main problem right now…keeping track of exits and entrances! If you leave stage right and your next entrance is stage left it is a problem. I have to make sure every dancer’s exit is in the correct direction, so that she can enter from the right place for the next section. Sounds simple, right? but with 25 dancers from 3 different companies, it’s a mind bender.

Entry 4: My house is full of tiny bits of coloured foam. Why? I’ve been cutting up kitchen sponges. Why? To make mushrooms. Why? Because mushrooms are an important part of the ecological system.

Entry 5: Had a big rehearsal day for BLiP today! Started at Pia Bouman’s YMI Youth Company at 9 a.m. Then, dashed to Cambridge to rehearse with Dianne Long’s Perpetual Motion dance company. On Wednesday, I’ll be rehearsing with Michelle de Browers’ Swansea dancers. All of these dancers are impressing me with their commitment and energy. Wahoooo! Can’t wait for them to meet each other and share in their awesomeness.

Entry 6: Had a great rehearsal with the Swansea dancers today. I came to the studio with, what I thought, was a big question; Do we want a propeller or a leaf? In the end, there really was no question as the leaf won hands down. In fact, the dancers’ excitement over the leaf made the propeller seem kind of sad by comparison.

Entry 7: We had our first full run-through of the YMI Dancing sections today. The dancers are really going for it, settling into their roles and bringing lots of creative energy to the movement. Our morning costume making session was also very rewarding. The dancers came up with fabulous ideas of what species to put on their heads. For example…the BUTTERFLISH!

YMI Dancers designing their costumes. Emilie Claus, Amelia Brown, Ella Corkum, Sarah Andrew-Gee, Cate Billinton, Alexia Christie.

Dhara Sheldrick, Stella Horvath and Jenny Aplin modeling some of the designs at Swansea.

Entry 8: I am trying to get the opening section straight in my head. All three companies are in this section, and I am still having fear of traffic jams. That is why I am up at midnight going over the sketches and doing imaginary, preventative traffic control. Here’s some of the thoughts in my head; If the Spikey ball enters upstage right, then the connected animals can enter downstage left, ok… then the tumble weed crosses from upstage left, yes…! Repeat at least one hundred times until you either A) lose your mind or B) feel confident that it will work.

Some diagrams from Julia’s BLiP workbook.

Entry 9: The daxophone! The first time I heard it I wasn’t sure I heard it right. Hans Reichel was a genius. Did you ever put your wooden ruler on the edge of a desk to make that bwangy sound? Hans Reichel made a collection of odd looking wooden sticks to make that sound even better!!! Hans Reichel made an artform out of that sound! He used his daxophones to make the album “Lower Lurum” to which my boyfriend (also a musical genius, I must say) introduced me and right away I knew it had to be used for BLiP. When I played it for the dancers they looked puzzled, like maybe they thought I might be joking. Maybe a little crazy. Hans Reichel and the daxophone! 
Hans Reichel’s Lower Lurum.
Julia Aplin is a Toronto based artist. Her choreography has been presented across Canada and in Europe. She has created work for Dancemakers, Toco Loca, Urban Vessel, and princess productions, among others. Julia’s career has taken her across artistic boundaries. Julia was a performer with Dancermakers under Artistic Director Serge Bennathan for 15 seasons. Julia teaches dance and movement to a wide range of communities.
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