Unleash Your Imagination with Katie Ewald

We want you to have the inside scoop, so in the weeks leading up to the 2015 Guelph Dance Festival, the artists will take you behind the scenes and you will hear from the Co-Artistic Directors about their creative vision. You can stretch your boundaries and unleash your imaginations before the Festival even starts! So go ahead, follow your instincts and read on…

This week on the blog, we hear from Katie Ewald, who is curating a component of On the Stage B entitled ReCalibrate. All of the artists involved in this collection can’t wait to share their work with you! Get your tickets for the performance on Saturday June 6 at 8pm through the River Run Centre Box Office!

“How can we make the audience a partner in adventure instead of a consumer?” – Frie Leysen

Katie: I never thought I would curate anything, let alone curate a dance show with sixteen choreographers. But recently, I did just that. And I learned something: I’ve been a professional dancer for almost fifteen years, but I was somehow surprised to discover that I had developed a secret skill along the way. I know how to give performers what they need so that they can do what they’re good at: perform. 

So what do dance artists need? They need space. And trust. And a clean floor. And support in doing what they want to do. And if you can gather a bunch of people to witness the event, well that is just about perfect.  

Recently, I’ve been thinking about how much being an artist has changed in my short career. In her closing keynote address at the 2015 Australian Theatre Forum, Belgian festival director and curator Frie Leysen said “We urgently have to reconsider the role of theatres and festivals, as instruments to facilitate and valorise artists again. And we need more flexible structures, production houses that can work tailor-made with artists.” I’ve been thinking about how artists are often put in the role of having to please others in order to be granted space, money and time to make their art, and how this can undermine the very impulses that make us artists. I want to help facilitate and valorise the artist. I believe we need art in the world that is encouraged to fulfil the vision not of the powers that be, but of the artists themselves.  

Through the Local Initiatives project, Guelph Dance has given me this support and time. With ReCalibrate, I am now able to turn around and offer this support to artists who are, for the most part, local. I am continually impressed and encouraged by Guelph Dance and their trust in local talent. I am honoured to work with them again.

The ReCalibrate artists are Jasmin McGraw, Simon Portigal, Janet Morton, and Lynette Segal, I have asked them to re-imagine and re-construct a recent work that they have performed, and adapt it to the context of Stage B on June 6 at the Co-operators Hall in the River Run Centre.  

I will be working with these four amazing people to see what they can do with the initial work that they presented for Short&Sweet: Guelph Edition at Kazoo! Fest, to expand it for a different situation. They are talented and distinctive artists with different experiences and methods of engaging with performance.

What connects all of the works is their strong conceptual basis, and the fact that none of the pieces used ‘music,’ but rather sound design or text. I want to offer the audience a journey into these three distinct worlds, to entrust with them the demands of being present to art. 

I can’t wait to see what the artists come up with. I know it will be compelling.

L to R: Jasmin McGraw, Lynette Segal with Janet Morton, and Simon Portigal, performing at Kazoo! Fest. Photos by Jacklyn Barber.

Jasmin: Last Friday night at Silence, the concrete space was jam-packed, with barely any room to move. The space was a blank raw canvas and the night was produced in such a way the dancers felt an incredible amount of respect and support. Not an easy feat, so much trust. It was the first time in a while where I danced and felt supported enough to create from a place deep within myself and express it without prejudice.

Without the clean professional production feel, the edges of the performance space were not so defined.  The dance pieces bled right into the room. Not with the intention to bring dance down to meet the public, but instead to be so close that the spectators were a part of the experience and had no choice but to let it over-ride their intellect and hit them in the gut. 

The new challenge is: How to Re-Calibrate this experience to a formal stage?  I don’t believe that it can be the same animal but it does pose an interesting question. Is there a way to have the audience be actively connected to the work on stage without having them standing right next to you? And can I be true to the message of the night? This is the challenge.

Lynette: I am honoured and thrilled to have embarked upon a collaborative artistic relationship with the remarkably talented and wise Janet Morton. We have created a forum to bring our art practices and dialogue together, as we go forth as female artists in our middle passage. Although Janet has had an interest in the ravelling and unravelling of things in her art for a long time, this will be our second shared iteration of this concept.

Let’s make sure these incredible artists have a full house! Get your tickets now: seats are assigned and prices go up May 31.

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