Over the past year, Andrea Nann and Dreamwalker Dance have been working with Guelph community members to create a version of the company’s original Toronto project, The Welcome Project, to be presented at the festival this year. Here’s what Michelle Silagy and Danielle Denichaud of Dreamwalker Dance shared with us about the project:
GD: What are you most excited about telling the audience about your work?
DD: The Welcome Gesture Project began as a multi-site community project engaging hundreds of newcomers through in-person workshops. We culminated our work during Newcomer Day 2019, where newcomers, ambassadors, artists and youth facilitated a shared experience of The Welcome Gesture. Together, we created an inclusive space for kind connections, and we moved in unison during 5 minutes of silence! We found this to be exhilarating. The transition to an online format of the work, focused on Sharing Stories, which invited individuals to create movement and word portraits of their story of « home ». These creations emerged out of small group online « Petal » experiences. In want of surrounding “web” connections with delicate care, these Petal Groups flourished through these personal stories told and heard virtually. This is the kind of storied energy within the Welcome Gesture Project, all of which contains multi-generational voices within Dreamwalker Dance Company Artistic Director Andrea Nann’s Conscious Bodies Methodology. The Welcome Gesture Project is a positive public action. We hope audiences will find this to be invigorating and above all welcoming.
GD: Were there any surprising benefits to the process of bringing your work online?
DD: The depth of connection across digital landscapes and the creation of community experienced during limited time in shared digital space was remarkable. The palpable sense of inclusion and kindness transmitted and received through our digital zoom boxes created a real experience of belonging between participants, beyond expectation. How resilient we become in the presence of each other was revealed to us each time we came together. The digital landscape also allowed individuals living in diverse regions to participate in real-time, which may not have occurred in-person. This availability broadened the community reach of this work, and made it possible for individuals to connect in the comfort of their homes.
GD What do you hope the audience will take away from your work?
DD: We hope audiences will feel the kind connections and visceral feelings of community that The Welcome Project ensemble co-created each time we came together. We hope audiences will join in during the invitations to move, breath and imagine together. We hope audiences will, with us, take pause to feel their minds opening, their heart beating, their bodies moving, and their spirits soaring as inspired by what we have co-made during this time of isolation. We wish to share a moment where audiences will feel meaningful, authentic connections as possible when dance and intention work in concert to bring us together through movement, artistry, and celebration. We hope to share the celebratory nature of inhaling and exhaling in the company of each other, as we fully inhabit the Welcome Gesture.
Don’t miss the presentation of The Welcome Project: Sharing Stories Guelph on Opening Night, Wednesday, June 2nd at 7PM.