We welcome Robert Kingsbury to describe the process of creating his piece Can Be Is Hiding for tonight’s performance of Women’s Voices.
Robert: I was a little bit surprised when I was asked to be a part of the Women’s Voices show this year. All the proceeds from this show go to Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis. I saw the show last year and was impressed with the strong lineup of choreography offered by local women. In contemplating what I felt might be right for this event, I immediately enlisted the help of a female acquaintance. Katie Ewald is a dancer with a strong background in conceptual work. She moved to Guelph with her husband to raise their son. I had been interested in connecting with Katie so I decided to make this piece a bit of a “get to know you”.
Katie went to an influential choreographic school in Belgium called PARTS and has worked for choreographers Daniel Leveille and Ame Henderson. She teaches a gentle Pilates class at Temple Studios on Wednesday evenings. During our first rehearsal, I have never had anyone ask for so much clarity. Katie wanted to authentically explore the tasks set out by my research. This is part of the rigour of some contemporary forms of dance and choreography. How much time in the process is invested into sensory research, what are the specific intentions of the work, and do the performers have a precise understanding of their role. I was challenged to answer why I want to present my work to audiences instead of just doing it for my own experience. I eventually realized that in the process of performing I am challenged to be receptive, which allows me to grow. I believe that the possibility of witnessing this is of value to the audience.
During rehearsals we talked about what was going on in our lives, how we were feeling. I realized that every moment that we shared was somehow going toward what would be created. We indulged in my sensory mapping improvisations, where the attention of the body is kept in specific visual or felt places for prolonged durations. After our first rehearsal, I was happy to hear that Katie’s neck was feeling better than usual. A recurring injury that comes and goes eventually evolved the nature of our performance into something very specific.
One of the things that we talked about was the desire to dedicate yourself to deep research, yet finding this difficult when the available funding is limited. We agreed that compensation in different forms might allow us to feel more willing to be involved. Within the next week Katie asked me if I’d do some babysitting or vacuuming. I happily played with her son on several occasions, allowing her some time to relax or get organized. From our discussions and this mutual exchange I feel a shared sense of value in the process we’ve had. We created a space for community, friendship, and the mutual expression of our desires onstage and in life. This happened because we kept a specific intention for the work. The goal was for whatever happened to be mutually satisfying for each of us. For me this meant learning to be receptive in every moment both to myself and to someone else. This has become the gift that I would like to share with Guelph.
Working equally in dance, music for the stage, and choreography, Robert has had the pleasure of participating in many artistic collaborations. In his work he produces audio, film, and movement to create a sense of embodied performance installation. A graduate of York University’s Fine Arts department, Robert is honoured to be part of Guelph’s rich community of artists.
Tonight in celebration of International Women’s Day, the Guelph Fab 5 is proud to present Women’s Voices. This fabulous event will take place at 7pm at John F. Ross, E.L. Fox Auditorium, 21 Meyer Drive, Guelph. Tickets can be purchased at the door and all proceeds will go to Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis. After the show, we invite you to join us for a reception.