[kad_youtube url=”http://youtu.be/CMBx4K67qWM” width=450 ]

Live Art Dance is excited to host Frédérick Gravel and collaborators, Dec 4-6, 2014 with Usually Beauty Fails, a searing and insightful look at human dynamics as influenced by the relatively new world of social media.

This work has been touring the world with great success, but not without a bit of controversy. Yes, there’s full frontal nudity from both genders, but it’s not so much this as it is the content that accompanies it. Using the ubiquitous presence of beauty/fashion/seduction/sex, Gravel’s proposition almost comes across as an antidote to the need to please.

beauty_fails_flat 300 Back in the summer, when we were looking for our primary marketing image for this show (yes, the one to the left) we polled friends and colleagues for reactions. Our concern was that people would find it offensive or it would resonate negatively with viewers. What we found was that, regardless of gender, those polled loved its downright cheekiness and all the metaphor and suggestive narrative contained within. Given the current media furor surrounding JG and violence against women, we have a heightened sensitivity to this image and have been second guessing our choice to use it. More polling for reactions, more discussion about content and intent.

One of the most interesting conversations I had revealed the layers present in Usually Beauty Fails. I was talking about the artist’s dislike of gender clichés and how his dancers – male and female – took turns being dominant, vulnerable, desired, and desiring. At this my colleague remarked on the contradiction inherent with this image, which itself presents a bit of a cliché. And therein lies point: Gravel is not trying to avoid clichés but to stimulate dialogue around them. in this Usually Beauty Fails is a jewel of provocation. It’ll make some people squeamish while thoroughly resonating with others.

Which camp will you find yourself in? There’s only one way to find out: join us December 4-6 at 8pm in the Sir James Dunn Theatre.

Live Art Dance is seeking an Administrator to help guide us into the future. This is a full time position that comes with a dynamic level of responsibility and involves working within a creative hub. The successful candidate should be able to start the week of September 15, 2014. Please email a cover letter, up to date CV, and references to Paul Caskey at: paul@liveartdance.ca by September 3, 2014.

Download the job description here.

 

Live Art Dance is just over five weeks away from opening our season (today is the deadline for the  Early Bird Special!!) but that doesn’t mean that great dance performance isn’t already upon our doorstep! On Thursday August 21, the latest edition of Prismatic festival opens with a number of dance activities worthy of your attention and, for those from the Valley (or escaping to it!), the inaugural edition of the Festival of Dance Annapolis Royal also kicks off.

For those taking in Prismatic, be sure to check out Santee Smith / Kaha:wi Dance Theatre’s production, NeoIndigenA on the 23rd. Santee Smith is a riveting performer whose work explores the intersection between Indigenous culture and contemporary dance. Her roots within the Mohawk Nation combined with classical dance training gives Smith a wonderfully unique capacity as a performer. One performance only!

For those wishing to maximise your dance card, shoot out to King’s Theatre in Annapolis Royal for two programs that alternate days between Thursday and Sunday. Featuring Company of Angels’ acclaimed Dancing in the Third Act, Mocean Dance’s wonderful Canvas 5X5 (premiered by Live Art in Jan 2012), and a pair of works by Toronto-based JD Dance, this is an excellent opportunity to whet your palette for the season to come.

Vive la Danse libre!

(Kahnyen’kehàka – Mohawk Natis a riveting performer

One of the most popular conceptions I am greeted with these days is that summer time = quiet time on the dance front… While there is a grain of truth in this (it’s true, we are NOT racing in production mode), summer time is when we get caught up on all of last year’s loose ends while also nailing down the foundation for the coming year: artist contracts, hotel reservations, subscription packages, ideas germinated for the pre-show talk series… Urban Foragingoh my, how that quiet summer time list of things-to-do gets long fast! Happily, Live Art Dance’s core staff has been bolstered with a pair of summer staffers, Hannah Harper and Karen Gross, who’ve been a great aid in helping coordinate the many pieces that need to be in place before that aforementioned production mode kicks in to high gear. If you’ve received a Spam consent form, our subscription package, notification of the PINK pass, or some other recent communication, chances are good that Hannah or Karen is behind it.

In between a little urban foraging (check out those red currants we stumbled upon!) and beach visits with my grrls, the pieces are slowly falling into place for a kick@ss new season of dance. We have a really exciting group of artists due in town, a superb roster of sponsors in place (their support is inspiring us to raise the bar this year), and are finally comfortably settled into our new suite of offices with our friends at 2b theatre. With one more month of summer time we should be more than ready to welcome the public to our 32nd season!

One of the most exciting developments carrying us forward is our freshly rejuvenated website and I’d like to give a big shout out to our geekgoddess, Ms. Jennifer, for her constant presence and creative input. Please take some time to wander around our site and let us know what you think.

 

Wow… January! Is there anything like taking a nice bit of time off only to get caught with a logjam of work all clamoring for attention once January gets going? At Live Art Dance, January means dealing with a shortened marketing calendar to get our first production of the winter season up and running – in this case, TDT’s mesmerizing RIVERS inspired by Ann Southam’s hypnotizing solo piano composition brought to gorgeous life by Christina Petrowska Quilico. Check out a clip here:

Once the January show has run its course (thank you Halifax for showing up!), it’s time to think put the finishing touches on next year’s, get primed for our upcoming fundraiser, the Salt Truck Follies, and of course pay attention to all the upcoming grant deadlines.

Fred Gravel is an artist I have been wanting to bring to Halifax for a long time. It almost happened 5-6 years ago – I remember speaking with then HPX guru Waye Mason about doing it as a coproduction – but then scheduling got in the way. Fred’s still on my radar though, and it seems he’s gaining attention far and wide. Check out this clip from PuSh Festival for Usually Beauty Fails:

Another dream I’ve been having is to see Ballet BC out here on the Atlantic coast. Now there’s a superb company that has gone through their share of rough times only to come out of it stronger than ever. I have been a big fan of this company since my Vancouver days and Artistic Director, Emily Molnar (named by the Globe and Mail as Dance Artist of the Year 2013), seems to be leading them onto exciting ground. My 2014/15 dream list is pretty long and it’s time to start putting some ink on the contracts! As always, our audience can look forward to an eclectic mix from the here and now of contemporary dance/performance.

Dance as an art form is so ephemeral, coming to life for the specific duration of a given performance and then disappearing into memory. Sure, it’s true that all live performance is like this, IE. existing only in the exact moment of its happening, but there’s something about dance’s neural impulse-driven blood & sweat existence in space/time that renders it so… fleeting!

The dance community in Halifax likewise has a certain ephemeral quality as nothing is entrenched enough to resist the march of time for very long. Case in point: Mocean Dance recently celebrated their 10th anniversary (a sure-fire sign of entrenchdom!) and now all of a sudden the founders are completely removed and Susanne Chui is the new face of Mocean. From full flight as a repertoire company to sudden switch into a project company. (For the record, I find it tremendously exciting that they’ve got the hutzpah to embrace change and have every confidence in Susanne’s ability to steer the ship).

The latest change to face of HallyDance was revealed last week when Megan Matheson-Hamilton was announced as the new Executive Director of Dance Nova Scotia (DANS). For those who don’t remember (though it does not seem so long ago…), Megan “Azulita” Matheson used to grace the stage as the promising student with El Viento Flamenco before creating Compania Azul and developing her own style and earning legions of fans across the city. Megan has been working at DANS for several years so has had ample time to learn from outgoing ED, Dianne Milligan.

Speaking of Dianne… what a mountain of gratitude dance in Nova Scotia owes to wonderful Dianne! She has been a vocal advocate for improved conditions for artists of all stripes, has sat on numerous boards and committees in Nova Scotia, the Atlantic region, and across Canada, and has been Chair of the inaugural board for the Legacy Centre for the Performing Arts. Dianne’s drive has been relentless and her commitment full; Megan has big shoes to fill but you know what – she’s going to be amazing!

On behalf of Live Art Dance, I salute the efforts of those who’ve helped build the community we have and look forward to contributing to its constant evolution with a new generation. A toast to the changing face of dance in Nova Scotia!

On Tuesday evening Elise and I welcomed the 3X3X3 dancers into our home for a little maritime hospitality! So sweet meeting everyone and learning a little about who they are and what inspires them in life and dance.

This CanDance inspired/supported creation exchange project is really exciting and I’m so jazzed to work with Tangente in Montreal and La Rotonde in Quebec City. Creating opportunities for artists to meet and exchange ideas is dear to Live Art Dance’s heart, and I realised just how broad this exchange is while drinking wine with our guests. The seven people in the photo hail from Edmonton (Ashely), Regina (Lauren), Quebec (Brice & Maryse), New York (Dorian), and Halifax (Susanne & Jacinte). That’s a lot of origins and diverse geography! Art originates with ideas generated by people who bring their collective experience into the present. I am really looking forward to the present of 3X3X3 from 8-9:45pm, April 25-27 in the Sir James Dunn Theatre.

How many times have I confessed to being the worst correspondent? Personally I’m having a hard time believing that my most recent post was in Sept ’12! How can I have failed to write about all the great shows and events that have occupied HRM’s cultural calendar these past 7+ months!!?? Forget about the learning curve of a new position, staff turnover, a nasty production schedule that had us launch the season with 3 shows in 3 weeks… All that is just work and we should be able to roll up our sleeves and push through it.

My little family!

What I recognise is a shift in my time management priorities: for the many past months my usual writing hours – evenings and weekends – have been devoted to house and home, meaning sitting in front of the computer has taken a back seat. What more needs be said: life is effervescent, and I’ve been enjoying (immensely!) watching my little ‘uns grow!

I promise to stop promising to improve the regularity of my correspondence… We’ll just let it ride and see where it goes.

So… It seems like our season is book-ended by “creation” events: we started with STIR, a really exciting creation lab that gave birth to a lot of fun ideas (not to mention the seeds of a wick’d collaboration between choreographer, Deborah Dunn, dancer, Elise Vanderborght, and composer, Lukas Pearse) and are concluding with 3X3X3, which is a Candance Creation Exchange Project. Three choreographers from three cities contribute three works to a shared program that shines the spotlight squarely upon up-and-coming dance artists. With financial and administrative support from the CanDance Network, this edition is a first collaboration between Live Art Dance and our esteemed partners La Rotonde (in Quebec City) and Tangente (in Montreal). The concept is pretty simple: each presenter champions an artist from their community who contributes work to a program that then tours to each others venues. The rewards are great: the artists get to share their work with new audiences while being engaged by their peers in the process, and the audiences get to see work by up-and-comers who rarely voyage beyond their immediate horizons.

Jacinte Armstrong presents Falling Off the Page, which she performs with the always stunning Susanne Chui. Inspired by calligraphy and being in the present, this is a gorgeous piece that features two superb dancers well-tuned to each others presence. The work was originally presented via the Kinetic Studio’s Exploration program and featured a series of film installations by Jeff Wheaton. Check out a short video: Small Brushes by Jeff Wheaton (From Falling Off the Page)

From Quebec City comes Maryse Damecour with another exceptionally performed duet from a gifted young dance maker. Damecour’s work straddles the boundaries between dance and theatre and plays with notions of identity, fear and solitude.

Dorian Nuskin-Oder made her way to Montreal via New York, and now calls la Belle province home. Interested by the power that cinema holds over our visual landscape, she is fascinated by the idea of re-purposing film/ideas as a method for framing and contextualising her choreography.

Three sharp works full of punch; I can’t wait to see them onstage together! Check out the show, April 25-27 at the Sir James Dunn Theatre.

You never know what you’re going to find when you go digging. A few years ago I began filtering the dirt in my back yard to put in a garden… I dug up so much stuff: broken bottles (Minard’s linament anyone?), car parts, claw feet from a bathtub (the fourth must still be out there somewhere), rusty nails, and clunkers galore… Someone told me my neighbourhood had been filled in with the rubble from the Halifax Explosion, and seeing as how our house was built in 1917, I suspect they’re bang on.

On the surface, everything was pretty (well, pretty overgrown is more accurate) and gave no indication whatsoever of what lay beneath the surface. Like in the photo below… this used to be a parking lot up until a few days ago. Who would have known beneath its dilapidated surface lay the residue of some former life? But there it is, a foundation upon which something, at some point in time, was built.

I began thinking about what we see and what we don’t see when the back hoes first started unearthing these bricks and mortar. Perhaps because Live Art Dance is currently involved in a project that is all about foundations, and revealing a little of what’s hidden behind the facades we’re accustomed to looking at.

This week, from Sept. 3-7, along with The Room, we have assembled a stellar crew of artists and facilitators to explore the creative process: Choreographers Jacinte Armstrong, Deborah Dunn, and Lisa Phinney; composers/musicians Erin Donovan, Geordie Haley, and Lukas Pearse; media/spoke word artists Nick Rudnicki, Tim Tracey, and Ardath Whynacht; and dancers Rhonda Baker, Miriah Brennan, Susanne Chui, and Elise Vanderborght; and facilitators Kathy Casey and Don Rieder. Their research will culminate on each of three nights in a series of performances (check out STIR in the 22nd Atlantic Fringe Festival), but what we’re really interested in is the foundation, all that bricks and mortar stuff hidden beneath the surface. As audience members we’re privileged to walk into theatres, galleries, etc and be able to witness works of art in its polished glory. Rarely are we afforded a tour of foundation, the blood and guts struggle of wrestling ideas into some coherent form of creative expression. STIR is all about this: Artists assembling ideas, laying brick upon brick and seeing how it can all stick together to support some magnificent ultimate thing.

Bring your curiosity and $7 to the Park Place Theatre (Point Pleasant Drive, Lower Parking lot (home of Shakespeare by the Sea))) Sept 5-7 at 8PM. Shucks, bring an extra fiver so you can have a beer with the artists and share your thoughts about what you saw.