The Dance Current featured my work
//Ballet BC's DanceXpress
This is the Q+A portion for the article.
Why did you decide to initiate DanceXpress in schools and needs does the project address?
DanceXpress has its original roots from a project that partnered with a homeless youth organization in downtown Vancouver. While this project was successful, it was short term. And I realized in managing and facilitating the program is that we could have a larger impact if we offered long term program. Often working with young people who are identified at risk, the real work is about developing trust. As a result, we developed a program that went out into the schools, meets students in their communities, where they are most comfortable and dance/movement programming that is consistent and dependable.
Having trained and worked as a dancer and dance/movement therapist in Canada and the UK for 25 years has provided me with a deep understanding of the body. I am an advocate for dance as an experience of the all, and I strive to highlight the importance of the body, dance/movement society and I believe in the power of dance/movement to inspire, define and change individuals, families communities for the better.
Side note: I hate term dance/movement, which is why I want to re-define dance. The current definition of dance does not acknowledge why we dance and how it makes us feel. See my petition and new definition here:
And, also I’ve done this work outside of Ballet BC.
My first artistic outreach process was in Winnipeg :)
The Limelight Project was a 12 week artist residency project at Knowles Centre and their first dance project ever. During the project young people at Knowles Centre had the opportunity to learn, rehearse and perform a contemporary dance with professional dance artists.
Working together as a group using contemporary dance as a language to communicate and learn more about one another, we identified a concept that has significance to the group members and this became the basis for the choreography. The concept informed and inspired the choreographic choices, ultimately creating a dance work that is significant and relevant to the participants – becoming their dance and their message.
I am proud that I now work with Ballet BC - a forward thinking ballet company, underpinned by a passion to inspire audiences with the ideas and excitement of contemporary ballet along with the endeavor to constantly evolve and find new ways of making ballets. The company believes dance has the power to transform- through watching dance, participation in dance and outreach projects.
At the core of all the work I personally do whether on stage, in studio, in schools, and community centres, is the belief that dance has the power to transform the way we see, think and feel in ways we cannot even comprehend.
The initiative seems to encompass accessibility to dance and movement. Can you speak a bit about this?
We live our lives through movement.
All cultures and all time periods people have danced— to mark the significant events in our lives. In a world filled with new technologies that take us away from our bodies, it is vital to invest time, energy and consciousness to our physical body to ensure our health as individuals, families and as a society.
I'm a passionate advocate for dance as an experience of the body, and strive to highlight the importance of body in society. I believe in the power of dance to inspire, define and change communities for the better.
For me, dance is not about learning steps, a style or technique. Dance is any movement the body chooses to make, a physical expression that words cannot express. For all human beings, dance is a way to learn and communicate. As babies we relate to our caregivers through movement and physical contact. As children we continue to learn through movement. All movement is dance; our physical connection to others and non-verbal communication - a life long dance with the world.
The body contributes far more to our lives than just physical attributes such as strength and endurance - it plays a major role in emotions, learning and relationships. The body is intimately involved in all our thought processes, understanding, emotions and decision making.
Westernized Dance -ballet and contemporary dance, as an art forms and it's pursuit of “excellence”, has alienated individuals from their bodies, rejected thousands - telling that they are not good enough to dance.
How can we give dance back to the people? How can “dance” stop rejecting those who could love to dance and move their bodies? How can we alter the perception dance from something that is unattainable? How can we inspire people to be happy dancing as their are? How can all experience the freedom of dance? How can we encourage those who were once rejected, to enjoy dance again?
What have you learned along the way that surprised you?
It breaks my heart to hear people say “I can’t dance” - my response is “you were born dancing”.
So many adults say this.
I want contribute to a next generation of young people that can get up on the dance floor - in any social setting - and feel confident that they can dance.
What’s next for the project?
I am always inspired to think ahead about what the next 20 years will hold for young people. What role can dance/movement support our next generation to thrive in the future?
I recently attended Europe’s First Dansathon (with the support of BCAC) -
DANSATHON was a connected, collaborative, European event to imagine the future of dance. It took place simultaneously in three large European cities: Liège, London and Lyon, as part of the Lyon Dance Biennale 2018. It was co-organised by BNP Paribas Foundation and three major Dance Institutions, one in each city – La Maison de la Danse de Lyon, Sadler’s Wells in London and Théâtre de Liège. The DANSATHON bought together dancers, choreographers, creative technologists, designers, web developers, technicians of all kinds, makers, creators, students and start-ups – people who would not meet otherwise. It was intensive 3 days of work for everyone, with each person working in deep collaboration within their teams. Each team could choose to work on one of the 5 themes focussing on different aspects of the integration of dance tech with the public, emphasising intimacy and connectivity. With space to dance, develop and create relevant technologies and support from coaches and facilitators, everyone worked intensively towards the final “fragment” outputs on the last day. These prototypes were shared with a jury and live audience in each city. In London, the type of outputs varied tremendously – installations, performances, immersion experiences, apps and site specific interactive architecture.
I’m interested in working with new thoughts, ideas of what dance can be for humans and using the advancements not only for performance and audience, but to engage people in their own bodies.
I believe that in a world filled with new technologies that take us away from our bodies, it is vital to invest time, energy and consciousness to our physical body to ensure our health as individuals, families and as a society. Finding a way of positioning the human (body) at the heart of the futuristic world.
We as dancers, artists grounded in the body, have a wealth of knowledge and information to share in our understanding of human movement and our unconscious connectivity to each other through our bodies. Now is the time to share this (even shout about it!) - so that dance can contribute to the development of a technological future - to share visceral experiences with those outside our dance community (or those that identify as dancers) - communicate beyond our circles so that the world can understand the power of dance.
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