Guelph Dance Festival Sneak Peek: Tracey Norman

In the weeks leading up to Guelph Dance Festival 2013, some of the amazing dance artists who will perform at the Festival will also 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 or engage in conversation about dance in our comments section below. Welcome to our 15thanniversary year!

Tracey Norman presents at our In the Studio series on Saturday, June 1 and Sunday June 2, 2pm,at Dancetheatre David Earle, 42 Quebec Street. Book your tickets now!
Tracey: I was reading an article and came across the line “by the very act of watching, the observer affects the observed reality.” This was something I had heard before but, as is often the case, this time something about it registered with me differently. The article was explaining the results of a scientific study in which particles behave differently when viewed versus otherwise. I was interested in the human application—the effect we have on each other’s reality by the very act of observing or witnessing.
Witness. Photo by Craig Chambers.

At about the same time as I read this article, I was taking a workshop with Lee Su-Feh of Vancouver and about to embark on a creative process with Jesse Dell and Jordana Deveau (JDdance). Su-Feh’s workshop was called “Observing and Adjusting” and it had me thinking a lot about “how” we see each other. And so the starting point for my work with Jesse and Jordana stemmed from this interest in both how we come to witness one another and how we alter our behaviour accordingly, based on our cognizance of being watched. We worked on many physical tasks related to this interest that led to developing a vocabulary for the work. During this time, I came to terms with something that had been on my mind but unarticulated for a while: as dancers we’ve chosen to participate in an art form in which we inherently pronounce “watch me”, although we may not always be comfortable or embracing of this idea. The performers I’m most intrigued by often display a certain mix of comfortability and vulnerability in the knowledge of being watched. They’re able to strip away ego (as much as is possible) and give and take equally with an audience.

Witness. Photo by Craig Chambers.

Witness was created in collaboration with Jesse and Jordana. The work asks them to be both wild and precise; to execute intricate movements and communicate in a specific language while sharing a real-time experience in which the viewer is invited to witness and affect the performance. The movement language is sometimes detailed, gestural and mysterious, while other times it is large, risky and flies through space. Our outside eye for this work and all of my work in recent years is veteran dance artist Julia Sasso.

Witness. Photo by Craig Chambers.

Witness premiered at episodes | andscapes, a co-production by JDdance and Tracey Norman with DanceWorks CoWorks in April 2013. Prior to that it was shown in-progress at Series 8:08 and in excerpt form at Dance Ontario’s DanceWeekend 2013.

Toronto-based dance artist Tracey Norman has presented her choreography across Canada. Currently on faculty in the Department of Dance at York University, Tracey received her MFA in Choreography & Dramaturgy in 2010.
JDdance (JDd) is a dance-theatre collective that was founded by Jesse Dell and Jordana Deveau in 2009. JDd is a multifaceted collective that strives to create, produce and present high caliber, thought-provoking, contemporary dance work.

Witness (excerpt) from Tracey Norman on Vimeo.

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