Festival Artist Feature: Denise Fujiwara of Fujiwara Dance Inventions

three dancers jumping while looking away from each other. They are wearing different shades of grey. There are three more dancers behind them whose faces cannot be seen. Behind them is a fence and green trees.
Photo by Fran Chudnoff

Fujiwara Dance Inventions is bringing their collaborative work Moving Parts to Exhibition Park for our IN THE PARK series. This time around they are performing with the Guelph Chamber Choir! Denise Fujiwara, choreographer of Moving Parts shares about the piece that has been in the works since 2017.

What motivated you to make the work you will be sharing at the Guelph Dance Festival?

Denise: Moving Parts is a response to the increasing complexities and conflicts in the world. What can we do when other people don’t agree with us? Argue? Fight? Expert negotiators and mediators say we should start by listening. That can be really hard when we don’t agree or trust the other person, but it’s the best way to start. Listen, with curiosity. With this performance, we consider alternatives to reacting with fight or flight. Can we be courageously open and curious? Can we be creative, skillful, daring, kind? In difficult times, singing and dancing can be a practice and a tonic that uplifts and heals.

How long have you been working on this piece and how has it changed since its inception? 

D: We started working on this piece in 2017 and showed excerpts of it at DanceWorks 40th and Dusk Dance’s 25th Anniversary shows. The pandemic slowed our progress, but then we finally premiered Moving Parts last summer in Toronto and Hamilton. Each of the dances started as an experiment. I wrestled with how not to be predictable in the choreography, how not to be literal with the lyrics, but relevant to the themes of the larger work, and how to honour each song. In the end we selected the pieces that created a journey and that spoke of issues that were important, difficult and timely, and that just about everyone can resonate with.

What was your biggest takeaway from the process of creating this work?

D: To be in harmony means to be in friendship and peace. To sing in harmony is the embodied experience of that. We’ll get to sing and make friends with a Guelph-based choir for this show. This entire collaborative work of choristers, musicians, dancers and audiences is a joy to be a part of. The rhythms are healing and the songs and their arrangements inspire us. Last year, many people in the audience came back to see the show more than once and sang with us. We hope you’ll find the work uplifting too, and we look forward to seeing you and singing with you at the park.

You have three chances to catch Moving Parts performed by Fujiwara Dance Inventions and the Guelph Chamber Choir IN THE PARK happening Friday, May 31 at 7PM, and Saturday and Sunday, June 1 & 2 at 12noon.

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