Richard Gorrie: The GCDF Through My Eyes

Richard Gorrie is president of the GCDF board. He has a theatrical background: as an academic he studied the history of theatre riots and as a performer he has toured coast-to-coast-to-coast. Currently, he researches and supports educational design, development and technology at the University of Guelph, as an associate director of the Centre for Open Learning and Educational Support.

Richard: Contemporary dance. I like to watch. And through the years, I’ve watched in different ways.

In the warren of theatre spaces where I worked in my twenties, in the wings or from the back of the house, I was able to peek in on rehearsals for the likes of the National Ballet School and Dancemakers (that’s when I first fell in love with Peggy Baker). As a select and secret audience of one, I was mesmerized by the commitment and concentration of the dancers even when they thought no one was watching.

Karen Kaeja’s Bird’s Eye View; GCDF In the Park. Photo by Anuta Skrypnychenko

Sometime after that, I had my initial glimpse of the inimitable Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, following my wife Wendy (I’m sorry Peggy) as she collaborated and performed with Catrina in the first Festivals. Wonderful! I thought to myself as I watched with the rest of the audience.

A regular after that, I was soon enlisted to archive the Festival on vIdeo, a marathon endeavour which involved attending and taping pretty much every performance at every venue. While exhaustive, my view was a distant one, following wide to capture the sum of the piece. However, being inevitably at the back, I also took in the audience as well, noting their seeing and feeling. I experienced the totality of the dance, from stage to house to archived images.

Since becoming President of the GCDF Board, I have left the videography in hands more capable, though not more willing. Now I like to sit near the front, often in the very first row. Where I can see and feel the dancers’ emotions up close. I love to be right at that liminal point where audience and performance meet, where watching becomes being.

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