Q&A with Lacey Smith from Dasein Dance

The Youth Moves Series has been a long time audience favourite at the Guelph Dance Festival. This series typically featured works by several youth dance companies form across Southwestern Ontario. However, this year the series has taken a twist and it will present a very ambitious project lead by choreographer Lacey Smith from Dasein Dance. Featuring 70 young dancers from four cities, The Four Season Projects pays homage to Vivaldi’s popular concertos. Lacey Smith answered a few questions for our blog to get you all excited about this big change.

GD: The theme of the 2019 GDF is “What Moves You” can you share with us what moved you when working in the creation of The Four Seasons Project?
Photo by Caitlyn Vader
LS: Antonio Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. It is no surprise that approximately 300 years after their original composition these concertos remain some of the best-known pieces of classical music to date. Vivaldi’s Four Seasons is riddled with imagery that speaks so vividly and continues to surprise you. It is this world of imagery that has moved us throughout the creation of this work. The music has inspired an entire movement score based on the images the dancers saw while listening to each movement. From these visualization we developed unconventional dances. Sharing this process with all of these amazing youth has also been extremely moving. They bring a beautiful openness and curiosity that is young and fresh. The process has been filled with play, laughter and sometimes tears. The range of life that has been welcomed in and embraced throughout has created a very special work that transcends time and form.
GD: Tell us about the journey of working with four different dance groups in order to create a larger piece? How did your vision come about?
Photo by Edwin Luk
LS: In June of 2017 a movement from the Spring Concerto came on the radio as I was driving. At the time I had been brainstorming about a new creative process for us to take on during our summer intensive. Immediately I knew that this music would be the premise for our new project. From there I started developing the idea of Four Seasons, Four Cities, Four Youth Companies and One Youth String Ensemble. Working with these groups has brought many rewards, challenges and a lot of creativity. Travelling from city to city and developing new relationships with over 60 dancers has been quite an undertaking. The task of managing a cast of nearly 80 performers is like putting an 80-piece puzzle together, except these puzzle pieces are always moving. Just like the Four Seasons, each of these groups has a distinct character which makes the experience rich and constantly in flux. Mostly this journey has provided me with an opportunity for growth. To see a creative process from the lens of young people is a true gift. The older we get the less enchanted we seem to be with the world and our lives. The wonder and the possibility start to fade away over time. These young dancers have given me the chance to enter back into a world that I haven’t seen in many years. Being in this world has opened up the possibility of creating a work that is filled with all the colours of the rainbow. How exciting!
Up until now we have been working with the groups separately. The full cast will come together for the very first time one day before the performance in Guelph. This has taken a lot of strategic planning and careful preparation of all of the performers. We can’t wait to see it all come together…it is going to be magic.
GD: Is there anything else you would like to share with Guelph audiences before your performance?
LS: Did you know that there are a series of sonnets that Vivaldi wrote into the score of the Four Seasons?  There is much controversy surrounding these sonnets, who wrote them and whether they proceeded or followed the creation of the music. One thing that is certain is that they add to the layers of life and to the enchanting complexity of these concertos. Unveiling the sonnets and where Vivaldi wrote them into the score is like turning the pages of a suspense novel.
Photo by Caitlyn Vader
This project couldn’t be fulfilled without the involvement of and collaboration with the musicians. We are so thrilled to have a string ensemble of fourteen instrumentalists that will be bringing this music to life alongside the dancers. Eight of these musicians are youth players and six are professionals with as many as four decades of experience. This project has provided a unique platform for Intergenerational collaboration and exchange. Through this experiential learning opportunity the professionals involved in this project have provided mentorship to the young artists and the professional artists have gained a refining of our own pedagogy through this beautiful exchange. And let’s not forget that we have all gained the gift of youth, which we can’t wait to share with the Guelph audience.
This truly is a remarkable opportunity to celebrate this timeless music and the magic of our youth, together and as a community.

If you have not purchased your tickets for Youth Moves yet, we recommend doing so quickly as this great show will surely sell out!

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