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!
Susanne Chui shares a bit about her experience working with choreographer Lesandra Dodson for the third time. Mocean Dance performs at On the Stage A on Friday, May 30 at 8pm at the Co-operators Hall of River Run Centre. Tickets are available now through the River Run Centre Box Office!
Susanne: In preparation for writing this blog post, I reflect that this is actually my third time performing in the Guelph Dance Festival, and each time it has been in work by Lesandra Dodson. I further reflect that each time Lesandra and I travelled to the Festival, we have been at very different stages in our lives, and in our work as dance artists. In fact, the Guelph Dance Festival has acted as a kind of marker in the ongoing flow of time.
Now in 2014, I am returning to the Festival as Artistic Director of Mocean Dance company, having made another big ‘move’ from independent dance life to running a company. Lesandra also took on a leadership position in her community, as Executive Director of the Charlotte Street Arts Centre.
|Photo of Mocean Dance by Holly Crooks.|
Susanne: Inasmuch as our lives have changed over the past 11 years since Sandy and I first came to Guelph, her choreographic work has also shifted, evolved, and changed with time. Over this period I have been in a fortunate position to sense this shift, literally through my body, by performing her work. So how has it changed? Well I would say that the biggest shift is a ‘distilling towards the essential’. Where Kuere was highly physical, dense, fast paced, layered with text, the work we will be presenting this year, A leash for two hounds, is sparser, less ‘dancey’, more pared down. In creating this piece, Lesandra wanted to challenge herself to work within limits. The first was how to create a duet on a man and a woman that is not a traditional male-female “relationship.” The second was to not use text or video, two elements that were becoming common in her work, and played a large role in Her blameless mystery. The third was to use props, but also with the limitation of using them outside of their intended way. As she worked with Darryl and I, she further began to impose limitations, including the significant choice to have us face the back for almost the entire piece. The question then became what can be expressed when the face is taken away?
Based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Mocean Dance is nationally recognized as a leading company from the Atlantic region. Led by Artistic Director Susanne Chui and Artistic Associate Sara Coffin, Mocean brings together artists to create, produce and tour exciting new work annually, collaborating with some of North America’s finest choreographers. Now in its thirteenth season, Mocean is committed to its home base in Nova Scotia, contributing to the province’s growing dance and arts community by providing opportunities for creation, performance, collaboration, development and education. www.moceandance.com