Upcoming Fab 5 Cabaret: Behind the Scenes with Janet Johnson

On Friday, February 7, 2014, Guelph Dance’s Co-Artistic Director Janet Johnson will be taking the stage of the Co-operator’s Hall at the River Run Centre with her company, Portal Dance Project. Her piece entitled This Side of Light is the Guelph Dance Festival’s contribution to an exciting collaborative event put on by the Fab 5 Festivals, as they announce their grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The Cabaret show will be the perfect opener to Hillside Inside. Janet shares with us some insight into her piece and her process:
Janet: The piece is inspired by the desire to find a balance between the dark elements within our life and opposing light elements that are often there for the taking. I am inspired by those who seek light over darkness but am also highly aware that there are many elements in one’s life where shadows are present. I have seen up close when darkness takes hold and shakes a person hard. I have also seen an aftermath whereby the desire for light is strong. Creating This Side of Light allowed me a process to express my reaction to living close to a loved one’s darkness and to understand the immense desire to not only break a cycle but to gather all of the light I can while understanding that there is also shadow where there is light.

This Side of Light
was created as a full-length site-specific piece at Goldie Mill in 2011. 6 dancers and live musicians used the walls, garbage cans, and ruins to help create a world for the piece to live in. I am excited to adapt the piece for the Hillside Inside Cabaret.

Janet Johnson in center, performing at the 2012 Women’s Voices event.

Janet: I am hoping that the sensuality and rawness of the piece can evoke a connection, create a world that is both understood and curious. I am hoping This Side of Light steps into that place that isn’t about words but a memory, a sensation, a fragmented place, lucid…all those things that make dance speak to me.

Everything about this event excites me. I love community. I believe in and am highly inspired by and grateful for all of the Festivals within the Fab 5. I want to create dance works for the world I live in and for the people who fuel me, support me, and inspire me – for people whose hearts went into this work without even knowing it. I love the idea of the sharing of art works, creating an evening whereby there are many ways to interpret creativity and expression. I am absolutely honoured to be part of an event such as this.

Janet Johnson, performing in Spontaneous Order by Lynette Segal at the 2013 Guelph Dance Festival.

Janet: Balancing my work at Guelph Dance with being a teacher, choreographer, and dancer is tough at times but utterly rich and relevant. I am a more confident and spontaneous teacher for continuing to explore the challenges and rigour of choreographing and dancing as it allows me to see both sides of the coin. As a creator I need to keep one foot constantly immersed in many aspects of the world I live in. This includes working with all of the brilliant young dancers and movers in my classes.

Being the Co-Artistic Director of Guelph Dance inspires me to stay tuned in with my community as well as the greater Canadian dance community, to continue to ask myself why dance is important, why we need art to foster who we are. I feel immense passion for all of the “hats” I wear and find deep inspiration from my students, dancers and community.

You can catch 
This Side of Light on Friday, February 7, 2014 at 7:30pm as part of the Fab 5 Cabaret at the River Run Centre. 
The performances will also include Tony Dekker (Hillside) of Great Lake Swimmers’ fame, the 9-member band GUH (Jazz), who will perform a musical score to the Festival of Moving Media’s screening of Georges Méliès’ 1912 film, Conquest of the Pole (À la Conquête du Pôle). The Eden Mills Writers’ Festival offers Maestro Fresh Wes, the pioneering, Juno-award winning “godfather of rap”. A little like a Valentine’s Day chocolate box, the cabaret will allow the audience to sample the flavour of each festival, offering a sensual indulgence and opportunity to expand one’s artistic experiences.

Do not miss this event! Tickets available at the River Run Centre Box Office.

Guelph Dance would like to thank the 
Ontario Trillium Foundation for all of their support of this Fab 5 co-production.

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