Ep. 03 Intersections Between Community, Identity, Dance, and Technology with Freya Björg
Olafson and Mo Dhaliwal.
Today on the show, we welcome two special guests, Freya Björg Olafson and Mo Dhaliwal.
Freya is an intermedia artist working with performance, audio, painting, and video. Her work
engages with the influence that technology and the internet have on identity and the body. As a
technologist and futurist, Mo came to dance by way of software after working in Silicon Valley
for several years. He is a cultural navigator and the creator of the Vancouver International
Bhangra Celebration Society. Both Freya and Mo work to challenge the status quo and cross
boundaries, cultures and sectors. We discuss Mo’s journey and how he has mediated the
previous anthesis between his work in software and his involvement in dance. Mo also shares
with us the role that technology plays in the communities that he works with and cautions that
while it is powerful in creating access, it can also entrench inequalities. Freya sheds light on her
work, including insights on her latest piece. We also discuss how Freya views her work in terms
of engaging with community. Furthermore, we delve into the role of both dance and technology
moving forward and some of the shifts we expect may occur. Through these discussions, we
hope to broaden the definition of dance along with increasing accessibility and both Freya and
Mo are doing work to make this happen. To hear more from this fascinating discussion, join us
Key Points From This Episode:
• Introductions to Freya and Mo and what drew them to The Future of Dance discussion.
• Post 9/11, there was a reconfiguration of the world and art was a means to work out tension.
• Mo’s views on the convergence of technology and dance and how he learned about it.
• Learn more about how and why Freya uses virtual reality and internet-related technology.
• Insights into Freya’s latest work, MÆ – Motion Aftereffect
• Find out what Mo thinks about the future of VR, other technologies and the dance world.
• For diasporic communities, technology is crucial in capturing potentially lost art forms.
• What Freya’s community engagement in her work entails.
• Discover how Freya’s relationship with her own body has changed through her work.
• For Mo, moving towards dance after tech burnout was healing and organic.
• How technology can exacerbate inequalities in terms of access and commodification.
• Technology has been an instrumental tool in Freya’s practice’s visibility.
• The future of traditional dance performances given the rise of digital tools in the space.
• What Mo believes the role of the dance community is in light of the shifting nature of society.
“Dance seems to be the language that we can use to not only express our own identity, but to
perhaps create connections with others.” — @modhaliwal [0:10:09]
© 2019 The Future of Dance
“These cultural forms that have a certain nostalgia to them, the conversation tends to be more
about capture than it is about expression necessarily.” — @modhaliwal [0:18:22]
“Because I’m between disciplines, in some ways it’s been important for me to look at the in
between spaces where we try to define parameters around discipline or form or expectation.” —
Freya Björg Olafson [0:20:15]
“I like to provoke reflections on our understanding of disciplinary forms.” — Freya Björg Olafson
“It tends to be the middle-class that has the socio-economic flexibility to be able to absorb these
dance forms, document them, do things with them and then go and turn it into a commercial
property.” — @modhaliwal [0:26:26]
“One of the things that allows a possibility for the appearance of me doing more in some ways
than I might actually be doing, is in fact technology.” — Freya Björg Olafson [0:27:52]
“Digital tools to interface and generate and engage and shift how we create and experience
choreography is a wonderful area to explore because it offers more possibilities for viewers to
intersect and experience work.” — Freya Björg Olafson [0:31:27]
“I would love for people to start seeing dance as not being something that is performed for you
and we’re just passive observers but it’s something that is a language. And it’s a language that
you can learn and you can start integrating it into your own life as a form of expression.” —
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
Freya Björg Olafson
Onassis Cultural Center
Video Pool Media Arts Centre
Atlantic Center for the Arts
School of Contemporary Dancers / University of Winnipeg
Royal Winnipeg Ballet
© 2019 The Future of Dance
Shawna Dempsey / Lorri Millan
Les Jeux De La Francophonie
Sarah Anne Johnson
núna (now) festival
Canadian Consortium for Performance and Politics in the Americas
Mo Dhaliwal on LinkedIn
Mo Dhaliwal on Twitter
Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration Society
BC Alliance for Arts + Culture
Multicultural Advisory Council for the Province of BC
Vancouver Jazz Festival
Nina Jane Patel