In the weeks until the Festival gears up, we will be featuring several GCDF dance artists here on the blog. Please join us every Monday and Thursday 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!
Kate Franklin and Kate Holden, co-founders of Toronto-based firstthingsfirst productions, share an intimate dialogue about the creative resurrection of a view is a view is a view, choreographed by Emily Molnar, for our On the Stage, Stage A series on Friday, June 1, at 8pm.
|Photo by Kristy Kennedy.|
Holden: How do you feel re-visiting a view is a view is a view three years after we last performed it?
Franklin: I was really nervous to start rehearsing the piece again. When I last performed it in 2009 I was in probably the best shape of my life. I have been training hard over the past three weeks in preparation for our rehearsals. When we got into the studio last week, I was amazed at how quickly the movement came back to me. I will always be in awe of the mystery of muscle memory. I can’t believe that so much of that movement stayed buried deep in my body for three years and then just resurfaced when I needed it! As we rehearse the piece, my mind goes back to the wonderful and challenging time we had making this work with Emily. She pushed us so hard, and got such great material and such great performances out of us. This work is so dear to my heart, and it is a real gift to be able to work on it again.
Is there a moment or a story that stands out for you about the making of or performing of a view is a view is a view in 2009?
Holden: There are a number of sections in this work that are improvised—some with more structure than others—and I am in disbelief looking at them now that Emily trusted us so much at the time to let us run with them. And we did run with them. There’s a section where you [Franklin] are speaking into the microphone saying what you see around you in the room, always speaking in the present tense: “She is wearing red,” “It is dark,” “You are looking at us.” I am improvising around a movement phrase and occasionally trying to wrestle control of the microphone to speak in the past tense: “It was sunny,” “She was late,” “He had looked away.” I remember the last couple of shows that we did, getting to a point where we were comfortable enough to really play with the section, contradicting each other, tripping each other up. And struggling so hard for the microphone that I got pushed all the way across the stage. You’re [Franklin] a force to be reckoned with! It was so fun to be able to poke fun at each other and at what was happening, in the moment. That kind of trust and direction given by a choreographer is so liberating.
|Photo by Kristy Kennedy|
What was one of the most challenging things about creating this work, or about re-mounting it?
Franklin: The two most challenging things about remounting a view is a view is a view are the spacing and the music. We’re trying to fit big movement into a small space, which ultimately I think will be very interesting and exciting for the audience. Our movement will just barely be contained by the intimate space of the Co-operators Hall! The music is very challenging in this piece. The pianist, Arthur Rubinstein, uses a lot of rubato (if I remember my Grade 3 piano lessons, I think I’m using the correct musical term here…) so it’s really tricky to find the downbeat of the music. When we need to find tight unison together, it’s often very hard to rely on the music. I have to watch you and just sense you a lot. It requires a lot of focus and attention.
We’ve been remounting on our own for four rehearsals now. What do you think will happen when we start working with Bonnie Kim as a rehearsal director next week? Are you excited to bring her in?
Holden: Definitely. I think Bonnie Kim is going to kick our butts into gear! Bonnie is one of the best rehearsal directors around—she has a very keen eye and is also a great performance coach. We can get to a pretty solid place working on our own, but having someone on the outside is key for this kind of work. There’s no other way to get the unison tight. There’s also an importance in having a witness for the improv sections. Improvising always feels different when people are watching than when you’re working on it on your own.
Do you have any distinct memories from the last time we performed at GCDF with Kate Alton’s Double Life?
Franklin: I remember shopping for vintage clothing in downtown Guelph… I want to go do that again! I remember having a sore lower-leg… I’m going to physio tomorrow to prevent that scenario from repeating itself! I remember getting to perform twice—once on the mainstage and the next day as part of the performances for young people. I remember going to see some performances in the park and getting a great sandwich from a bakery, which I think was called “With the Grain.” I remember being very tired when your parents drove us home. All in all, I had a great time.
|Photo by Kristy Kennedy|
What specific qualities will you bring to a view is a view is a view three years later? What has changed for you as a dancer or as a person in the last three years?
Holden: That was a good shopping trip! I still wear some of those clothes. As for change… So much has changed and so much is the same. I think I’m more efficient as a dancer than I was. I don’t perform work like this very often any more. The work that I have been in recently has been much more based on inner state development and improvisation, but I think I still have the technical chops to do this one. I love the challenge of the complex physicality. In life I think much more has changed—I’m more settled in some ways, and in other ways I’m making some major shifts. I’ve just left a great company job with Dancemakers to make space for other things and I’m studying CranioSacral Therapy. I’m developing my teaching more and have started choreographing my own work. It’s an exciting time.
One other thing that has changed is that we finally have a website. Yay! We’d love to have some traffic on it. Have a look: ftfp.ca
firstthingsfirst productions was formed in 2005 by powerhouse dancers Kate Franklin and Kate Holden to commission new contemporary dance work. Through its commissions, ftfp has built up a body of work that is thoughtful, transparent and honest. Powerful in its ability to communicate and clear in its kinetic language, ftfp’s repertoire is engaging and inspiring.