Masculinity, Spirituality, and the Creation of Chorus II

In the weeks until the Festival gears up, we will be featuring several GCDF dance artists here on the blog. Please join us each week as we get an intimate, behind-the-scenes glimpse into the artistry, process, and experiences these talented dancers and choreographers from across the country are bringing to this year’s Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival. We encourage you to not just read their amazing stories, but to ask questions or engage in conversation about dance in our comments section below. Get ready to Power Up!
This is Sasha Kleinplatz, choreographer for Montreal-based company Wants&Needs Danse. Wants&Needs performs with the GCDF at Exhibition Park in Guelph on Thursday May 31, 7pm; Saturday June 2, 12pm; and Sunday June 3, 12pm.
Sasha: Chorus II is a work that is inspired by my childhood of memory of watching my grandfather pray before dinner. I didn’t speak or read Hebrew, but I remember feeling a deep sense of meaningfulness in the tone of my grandfather’s words, the rise and fall of his voice, and the slight swaying of his body as he spoke. This swaying movement performed during Jewish prayer is called davening, and can be traced back to the Talmud. I have been inspired by this idea of movement as an integral part of prayer; movement that becomes religious in context, and in so being, seeks a connection to some greater power.  
Chorus 11 by Celia Spenard-Ko
I decided to choreograph on male dancers because I wanted to work with people who could embody both my grandfather’s gravitas and physical strength—he is built and carries himself like a circus strongman. In this work I was interested in the juxtaposition of an incredibly strong and adept body, which is expressing something deeply personal.    As a choreographer I have always been drawn toward contradictions, particularly in the realm of gender. In my last choreography, I created an all-girl fight club.  In Chorus II I have tried to tap into the vulnerable side of the athletic masculine body. 
As we created Chorus II, the dancers, musician Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, and I discussed the idea of prayer as a way of sending one’s energy into the universe as an actual attempt to express fears, desires, and hopes in a way that can become almost transformative for those praying. This idea of trying to physically not just express but manifest one’s heart’s desires became a main inspiration for the movement vocabulary and quality of the work itself.
I have felt so lucky to work with a group of dancers who have wholeheartedly embraced both the physical and emotional challenges of this choreography. All of the performers have played an integral part in the creation of Chorus II, I am so grateful for their work and dedication, and can’t wait to share it with the Guelph dance community!
Sasha In the Trees by Marie-Michele Atkinson
Sasha Kleinplatz is a contemporary dance choreographer living and working in Montreal. As a graduate of the Concordia University Dance Program, she began creating work in 2002.  Since then she has developed and choreographed a total of 15 works involving some 40 interpreters and other artistic collaborators. Along with partner Andrew Tay, Sasha created the Montreal choreographic events Piss in the Pool, Short&Sweet and Involved. She will debut her new full-length choreography, Chorus II, at the Montreal, Arts Interculturels in March 2013.

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