Reflections on Purpose in 2 Parts: Margie Gillis and Lucy Rupert


My conversation with the world renowned artist, creator and teacher Margie Gillis (OC CQ) was intended to be about how she brings our art form to a greater audience, by using the inherent values and features of dance in non-dance, non-performative settings. Actually, my work with Margie was  supposed to be in person, in a studio, through her intensive retreat but world and personal circumstances have made that impossible for the time being.

Either way, we wound up at something more lively,  and something ultimately about the how the values and features of our art form can support us in uncertain times.

This is about dance, but also about purpose.
Rigour and mystery.

Opposition and balance.

These word pairs can seem at odds with one another. Balance is good, opposition is bad. Rigour is good and must be used to transform mystery. All that may be true, but is only part of the picture.

Mystery inspires rigour.

The perpetuity of mystery is really what compels dancers to their rig…

Kristen Facciol: endless curiosity at the Canadian Space Agency

In January, Kristen Facciol was in Toronto for the WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) Conference and I was supposed to interview her then. However the conference coincided with the opening of my recent production "8 minutes 17 seconds" and I found myself too overwhelmed to make it happen.
Luckily, Kristen was willing to talk to me later this winter via email and I am so grateful for her beautiful answers to my simple questions.
Kristen is an Operations Engineer at the Canadian Space Agency, part of the Mission Control Group. She has trained at NASA, and trains astronauts herself, remotely operates robotics in space. Kristen was part of a history-making team, training the two astronauts for the first all-female space walk in 2019.
This interview is short and sweet, but so worth the read.
Kristen Facciol photo courtesy of NASA
LR: What drew you to engineering? and to your particular area within engineering?
KF: It was my high school algebra teacher that first planted the seed …

Clarke Blair -- doing the digging in science and in dance

Colleen Snell of Frog in Hand dance recommended I connect with Clarke Blair -- a woman studying science at the University of Toronto and maintaining a performance career as a dancer. I was thrilled to sit down with Clarke, without knowing much of anything about her. I felt awkward, at first, chatting with such a collected, intelligent young woman, but by the end I was simply inspired and energized.

Since this interview I invited Clarke in as a dancer for some studio research I was doing as part of a science-art related fellowship and got to experience observing and dancing with this wonderful person, and this weekend Clarke and I are on a mixed bill in the pioneering series Dance Matters --see details below!

Clarke has an incisive mind and body, and whatever she's doing, she will be curious and we will be intrigued.

photo of Clarke Blair by Francesca Chudnoff

LR:  So tell me about your journey in art and in science.

CB: I've been dancing for ever. I trained with CCDT and …

Sarah Stewart and Lucy Rupert in conversation-- what makes you curious?

Sarah Stewart is a former marine biologist turned data librarian and PhD researcher studying the impact of open data on scientific research practices in biodiversity. She is also a fan of contemporary dance and visual art, with a strong interest in the exchange of information across disciplines.

Sarah appeared on my art-science horizon after the Squash Court Collective show "Mirrors" which I created with Paulina Derbez in the spring of 2019 at the Citadel. She volunteered to work box office for us and we chatted about the science and art connection. Sarah has been a supporter locally, and from afar, of mine for so long that  I couldn't remember exactly how we met.  Was it at Denise Fujiwara's butoh intensives? Was through the theatre world?

Lucy Rupert and Paulina Derbez in "Mirrors" photo by Francesca Chudnoff

Thankfully Sarah remembered. It was through a classmate and good friend while I was doing my Master degree in History at the University of Toronto. M…

Katrina Sukola -- the healthy divide

Katrina Sukola is another scientist with whom I connected through unexpected serendipity.

Two summers ago my son came home from summer camp at the High Park Nature Centre rhapsodizing about a kid named Clem who was in his group. They were both into Voltron and Lego and nature and want to be architects or designers of some kind when they grow up! So on the last day of camp I tracked down Clem's father and offered him my email address. Clem's mom emailed me later and told me she remembered me from the University of Waterloo dance program. We had taken ballet classes together at the Carousel Dance Centre -- a dance school that ran out of the Dance Dept. studios in the evenings when university classes were done. Vania, Clem's mom, was in high school and I was taking extra ballet classes to supplement my university classes.

Fast forward a year and a half: Pablo and Clem are good friends, still into Voltron and Lego and being architects, and also Star Wars and graphic novels and t…