Q&A with Robert Kingsbury of Not Applicable Productions

Not Applicable Productions, created and led by Robert Kingsbury, will present the film version of the work Arcade Continuous at the 2021 Guelph Dance Festival. Developed through the 2019 Breaking Ground Mentorship program, we are excited to see how the full-length work has been developed and adapted for film. We spoke to Robert about the piece and the upcoming festival:

GD: What are you most excited about telling the audience about your work?

RK: I’m thinking a lot about the relevance of choreographic gestures in a time when the performances we watch are no longer in theatres, but accessed through screen-based technologies. I’m not just talking about watching dance films or archives online, but rather that the way that, for instance, politicians, public figures or people in our social media circles respond, has become the subject of a gaze that used to instead meet the performance of a hockey player, violinist or dance artist. There is both a de-professionalization at play here and also an expectation that anyone might fill the role of performer at any time. I’m interested in what it means to perform in a world that can’t afford or deems performances unsafe, and how as dancers we adapt, not in service of bringing the stage to the screen, but rather pulling the body back out of the technological realm that it has so deeply entered. ‘Arcade Continuous’ is a piece that has researched what choreographing/performing dances, entering into somatic practices and playing/designing video games have in common. It places the virtual beside the physically imaginative and asks the viewer to question what artistic material becomes, when we enter into shared virtual space. 

GD: Were there any surprising benefits to the process of bringing your work online

RK: Rehearsing on zoom has increased the degree of conversation that makes up our process and has also allowed us to very easily reference previous archives of the work together, watching, responding, planning and imagining based on what we have done in studios in the past. This project was already focused on the contrasting spaces of the digital and analog, mixing tech and embodiment not towards performative goals but rather to live out an unanswered question about how we negotiate this computer driven age as embodied practitioners. Rehearsing virtually has heightened this experience, research and conversation even more deeply, in a way that we would never have imagined. The emphasis on this work of interacting as individuals with scores, choreographic structures and experiential games, has become even more necessitated by working at a distance. This has given us a chance to highlight how we each relate to the choreographic materials as individuals and humans, whereas in the studio sometimes we all get swept up in the preparation of performance. Limitation as it turns out, can offer a ground for the imagination, in place of a crisis.

GD: What do you hope the audience will take away from your work?

RK: I’m hoping that the work offers a sense of curiosity, play, inner dialogue and engagement. I hope that some of the forms, movements, ideas and interactions in this work spark connections, form memories and offer a sense of grounded possibility.

You can see Arcade Continuous at our “Late Night” series on Thursday, June 3 at 9:00PM. Festival Passes are now available!

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