Thursday, November 19, 2015

Lament for Solo Computer

It's been awhile, quite awhile since I wrote here about my own work. I write a lot about my work: for grant proposals, for festival applications and calls to artists, in my various and too-many notebooks, but rarely here.

This week I have the most wonderful opportunities to perform a work from Blue Ceiling dance repertoire in two very different places. The first is "Hello World", a concert/performance put together by the TOLOrk (Toronto Laptop Orchestra) at Array Music (tonight, November 19th at 7:30 pm. 155 Walnut Ave, just south of Trinity Bellwoods Park). The second is "After Dark", a fundraiser for Jillian Peever and JD Dance at the Intergalactic Arts Collective space in the Artscape Young Place building on Shaw St. 8:30pm onwards).

I'd like to tell you a little bit about this work.

Lament for Solo Computer.

It is named for the exhausting and gorgeous music by Jascha Narveson.

Sometime in 2008, I think, storyteller/actor Lisa Pijuan-Nomura and I decided we wanted to make a performance work together that would have something to do with ghosts. We asked our friend Jascha Narveson (then a graduate student in music composition at Princeton University) if he had any music that he thought might be relatable to that theme. Jascha sent us a Dropbox full of ideas, one of which was Lament for Solo Computer.

Well, Lisa and I both got pregnant and our co-creation went on the back burner. (Lisa, should we get back on this now?)

But Lament for Solo Computer lingered in my head.

Fast forward to the fall of 2012. While assisting Andrea Nann in the programming and planning of the Whole Shebang, I asked if she would be interested in a collaboration between Jascha and me. She said yes and away I went on the path to finally creating to music Jascha had suggested we use years before.

When I approached Jascha about using the music, he said he'd always hoped I would  want to use it one day. And he graciously shortened his track by 90 seconds to accommodate the strict 10 min time limit for the epic 2012 Whole Shebang. (It was epic for many reasons, not the least of which was live tattooing in performance).

The theme of that year's Whole Shebang was twinning. There were twin performers, duets, a mirror movement choir of performers and audience. My work was a solo, but my starting points were two: the lamenting computer itself (Jascha's score) and Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken". I would become a nasty, nihilistic creature who sees, for 9 min and 30 seconds, both roads at once. How would she change?

I was very angry while I made this piece. Just two weeks before I had premiered another solo, a joyful one called Frankenstein Fragments that embodied musicality and quirks and stole gratuitously from former works for the sake of self-mockery and fun. Right after the performances of Frankenstein Fragments I found out that a dear dear friend of mine who was sick, was not only very ill, but actually now dying.

I was so pissed off, I could not summon the love of performing, the drive to create. I was just mad as hell. And I had less than two weeks to make this new piece for the Whole Shebang.

I couldn't get through tech rehearsal but for the grace and loveliness of Andrea Nann (thank you Andrea), I couldn't find my place in the music, my right hamstring was twanging like a strung ham and I was quite sure the audience would think I totally sucked. Totally.


The first step to remounting Lament for Solo Computer was to watch the video. I was surprised when I watched it at how much is really in there. The choreography actually embodied that anger, rather than just me being angry on stage. The dance and the music transcended the circumstances under which it was made. At the end of the piece the applause is loud, there are whoops and cheers. Something was happening.

Here's another wonderful reason for remounting repertoire and why we as artists should be revisiting our works. When encountering the material removed from the emotional landscape in which it was originally made you get to discover what's really there....

Something was there back then and something is there now.

My friend who was dying died less than two weeks after The Whole Shebang 2012. He's in there. The anger is in there. But they don't drive the dance any more, they lie inside the impulses. They colour the muscles and skeleton in motion.

They leave room for something more.

photos by Omer Yukseker

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

This Dance, This Gal, This Wonderful Gal: Kate Alton

Like a great number of people I've been able to interview in the last year, Kate Alton has been a hero, an inspiration, a beautiful puzzle of an artist. She's about to open her first show in a few years in which she is dancing. If you haven't witnessed Kate performing, go now. If you have...well you know what I'm talking about then.

Kate managed to answer a few questions I sent her way in the flurry of both our worlds -- tours ending, homecoming, children, rehearsals, and the million other occupations that demand our time. I am so grateful Kate's usual candidness and eloquence.

Without further ado....Kate, unedited. This interview.

LUCY: What motivated you to make this production happen?

KATE: Honestly it was the unending desire that dancers constantly have, somehow to keep on dancing. My life with two kids is very full. I feel lucky to have had so much time to dance before they came into my world. But I also long to keep that dancing part of myself alive, and for my kids to have a sense of that part of me too. 

There have been several points along the way to making this show when I was tempted to throw in the towel, because I do feel compromised in so many ways- time, money, energy, and ability are all compromised here. I have constantly struggled with the question of whether what I can produce right now is worthy of an audience. But I have tried to make these questions central to the premise and the content of the show. 

Lastly I would say that a lot of the motivation to push forward with it has come form others around me- those who saw my initial showings and the people at hub14 who offered to co-produce, which was such a huge and enormously helpful boost both practically and for my spirit.

LUCY: You have always been a performer unafraid of vulnerability on stage  -- at least in my eyes you are! It feels like this production is even more so….How do you keep this vulnerability and honesty so personal and keep yourself or sense of self safe?

KATE: Hmmm, great question! You are such an insightful person Lucy. I don't know! Yes, I feel more vulnerable than ever. I cannot really rely on my dance technique anymore. I am not strong and versatile. My tools are age, experience, and I hope, artistry. 

At the same time, I never felt a need to protect myself in the experience of dancing or performing. I was pretty much born with my heart on my sleeve and have never been able to shove it back inside my chest. In fact I guess the idea of protecting myself from an audience has never even occurred to me, as I guess it might or must for very famous people.

LUCY: Do you have a pre- or post- performance routine? 
KATE: I have not performed much for a long time now. In the past yes, I tried to maintain a fairly consistent warm-up routine. I found that this was easy whenever I danced in a company situation as a dancer-for-hire, and much more difficult once I was self producing because of all the hats we must wear when we do such multi-tasking work. 

Right now I don't really know how to warm up anymore. Everything that used to be part of my routine is inappropriate to my current condition. Barre work it problematic because I can neither stand in comfort with both legs parallel nor both externally rotated. Floor work doesn't work because my hip won't fold as it used to. And if I force any of these things the hip flares and I lose more mobility. This means that I can't really do class anymore, and I miss that so much. 

I have yet to really sort it out! I do pilates and use the eliptical machine because running is no longer workable. I am also very lucky to have a reformer at home and I use it a lot.

LUCY:  What does it mean to dance with or through your injury?

KATE: I am still trying to figure out how to dance with it. I think that in this piece I am really dancing THROUGH it whereas I hope over time to figure out how to really dance WITH it. To use the body I have now instead of trying to adjust so I can dance as I did with the body I used to live in. It feels like a process of shedding. 

LUCY: What keeps you inspired to create and perform? Do different things apply to the different roles? 
KATE: I have come back to this question several times, trying to answer it. I don't seem to have an answer! It is just in me to do it I guess. I love performance generally. I think I love it as a form with which to communicate. I think the heightened activity of performance, whether as creator, performer or audience member is something I live for, something I love to share with other people, in all the different roles.

​November 6th - 15th at hub14
Fri- Sun Nov. 6th-8th and Wed-Sun Nov11th- 15th at 7:30pm

Tickets: $15, Pay-What-You-Can on Sunday Nov 8th 
more info:

all rehearsal photos of Kate Alton in rehearsal for This Dance by Aria Evans.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

EUNOIA on tour: what we learned....

flying over Canada, headed home

I posed the question "what did you learn on the EUNOIA tour?" to all the collaborators involved in the mounting of this work for touring, thinking the answers would offer amazing insight into the value of getting a chance to revisit a work, tour it....something dance and theatre, especially the indie or small-scale companies, don't get to do very often.

My original thought was about the deepening of artistry, the new audiences in new landscapes that take in and give back from fresh perspectives. 

I did not anticipate the full spectrum of beauty that would come in their responses.....Read them all, you won't be sorry. (Some have not replied yet and will be added in a later post.)

Thanks team for your intelligent, profound thoughts, as if I could expect any less.

getting notes in rehearsal in Halifax

Claudia Moore (performer, freest of spirits, continual source of inspiration, great sharer of chips and wine):
It comes down to LOVE for me- something I'm always learning about and that helped me all along the EUNOIA way.
How love carries me deeper into life, helps me face the hard parts, helps me learn new things and opens the door 
to joy....there was lots of joy.

Also to WORK- so much to work on! Listening, mostly. But the work can't happen without love. My basketball coach
dad talked a lot about desire and that stays with me. I see desire here as love- it's like the motor to get me 
somewhere, to give me energy for learning things and growing.

Love for everyone in the EUNOIA family. You are all divine and I am so happy to be with you in this adventure.

Love for Christian and his book for the beginning, to Denise for making the way with skill, fun and artistry.

Love when I need to let go- again and again and again. Love for this frustrating challenge.

Love for my addiction to dance and my refusal to get help. I've made peace with that, though may have to find a
way out at some point...? So happy it's possible to still tour and all at 62.

Love for those strangers in a dark room who come to see what will happen. Love for connecting with them,
for my ongoing fascination with "the magic of theatre".

Love for trying to do the impossible tasks- becoming invisible is one of my favs. I could do that all day long.

hanging out with Tedd Robinson in St. John's airport

Gerry Trentham (performer, voice coach, writer of beautiful poetry, eternally my big brother):

That Phil and Laurel are great travelers - thanks for all the adventures 

That Denise is full of surprises - she is much more in many directions than I ever though possible in one person. She is an inspiration and I am so fortunate to know her 

That I think I married Ron (lighting designer) -- he sounds exactly like my partner -lol

That creating and performing Eunoia with each of you is a gift from some very generous gods

that the performance of Eunoia - the depth, textures, community, leadership, collaboration, all demanding presence is a whole body/mind active meditation - an journey of transformation that can always be more refined - a lesson and practice for life.

it reassured me in my belief 

that you can never know what another is thinking -especially an audience

that performance can take a lifetime to master 

that every world is complex - there is no us and them 

that I am a detail 

that I am very truly thankful to thoughtful presenters, dedicated board members, bright administrators and those who support us to perform

that the voice in spoken text can offer a breadth of interpretation not unlike dance -  speech is a danced choreography of sound

some of the company at Cape Spear, NFLD

Hope Terry (performer, survivor, provider of kale and constant surprises):
The conclusion that there is nothing to grasp onto, that security is fleeting:  sickness, health, happiness, sadness, success and failure  come and go, so is humbling. Sometimes wishing it wasn't so.
Reminiscing for a time when life seemed more secure and perhaps viewing the confines of this sureness through rose-coloured glasses or at least enjoying the moments that it feels so. 
If it were not for my beautiful artist family holding me and each other up in these fleeting states, life would seem rather grim, but with this support in each other's messiness, I find joy, and glee and silliness and power.
A power that is kind of sweet in its own weird way. Maybe this power that we cannot own, still gets to pass through us, rush through us in a way so we get to experience, as one gets to experience the mountains outside of Calgary, or the wind of St. Johns's or the rushing Yukon river, and maybe we happily wave at it as it passes through and reminds us that we are nothing, yet part of everything?
Maybe a reminder that we don't own anything, but are part of a larger 'sharing program', which includes EUNOIA.

some of the company at Nose Hill, Calgary

Jillian Peever (understudy who was called upon suddenly and who filled in with more grace and sheer will than we could have imagined):

​I don't know how to follow all these beautiful responses, but I definitely​ learned something during this process. 

About Eunoia... I learned that it is complex, but at the same time simple. I learned that the perspectives from within the piece and from within the group of amazing artists in it are all unique--and that is necessary and beautiful. I learned that there is time to live in the work. I learned that being part of it also means watching it, watching each performer add their piece to the story. I learned that poetry can be some serious shit! Seriously detailed and thorough. That reciting poetry, like performing dance movements, takes mental and physical practice, skill, concentration, and presence. 

I learned that we are all ageless and beautiful and unique! 

Thank you everyone. I learned so much from each one of you. What a perfect team! I'm so honoured to have been able to share the experience. 

Fish and chips at the Duke on Duckworth in St. John's

Miko Sobreira (performer, soon-to-be-new-dad, a most patient and creative collaborator, warmer-upper of the audience)
What I learned from Eunoia, is that I can witness my journey through the joy of others, that there is no better social work than ART, and that it is for others but not for our selfs, otherwise it is not truly art. 

the intrepid Nick Andison, technical director 

Kevin Ormsby (understudy, overachiever, all around nice guy)
What have I learnt.

That integrative artistic practices is important to the future of Canadian Dance. The detail, work and subtle nuances of being in the process enlivened the reason I Dance but also provided a grounding where physical practice / embodiment met and ‎was integral to the Creative practice / presentation. 

Experiencing contemporary practice rooted in traditional Asian concepts could and can be abstracted to support one's artistic inspiration and inquiry. 

In fact how we think of physical communication in dance should not be separated from the breath, vocal sensibilities or the relationships between internal and external being. 

Innate‎ connection to ones artistic practice will never appall but will create gusts, leaving a hush where murmurs or in fact chants, are a stamp that marks overall ingenuity between all collaborators. 

Phil's-eye view of set up at Theatre Junction Grand in Calgary

Phil Strong (composer, problem-solver and wittiest person you will ever know):
Noel Coward claimed, "there is no fun like work". 
He was a smart cookie, but I think it would be more accurate to say "there is no fun like GOOD work" or, as in this particular case,  
"there is no fun like good, challenging, rewarding, artistic work - in a dedicated team of amazingly talented and profoundly decent people ". 

Not only "fun", but a blessed state. 

I continue to be blissed out by Canada's geographies, landscapes and the preponderance of awesome people - and food!

The necessity to adapt the show to each environment and the freedom and opportunity to continue to experiment and learn on this level is completely exhilarating. And so was the experience of all of us together and individually dealing with and overcoming adversity.

Speaking of which, flu is humbling and a good teacher, not to mention equipment failure .. and and and and…. I forget. What was I saying? Hey, where are my keys? Oh yeah, I need to be more mindful and carry extra ID in a safe place. or maybe get an government-issued tattoo.

warming up somewhere....could be anywhere....

Sylvie Bouchard (performer, best roommate (she was mine!) giver of many remedies for mucus and grant panic):
I knew already but learned again, and more deeply, how incredible this group of people is. So generous, loving, funny, and supportive of one another... it's a real gift, and I feel so lucky to be part of this beautiful team. 

I knew already, but continued to learn that the work is bottomless. It changes me, and then it changes as I change. The work with Denise never ceases to teach me and makes me discover new ways to approach / delve into rehearsal and performance. Softer ways... 

I learned how amazing it is to be able to focus on my tasks as a dancer a tour, without having to take care of other production issues...  What a gift!

I learned how to go to bed earlier, I was inspired by my roommate Lucy!

I learned that there are ways to still eat your vegetables on tour! :-)

I experienced amazing communities, stunning festivals and series, and met such beautiful people in all the places we went to: Halifax, St-John's, Calgary and Whitehorse. Thank you immensely for all these beautiful and earnest connections. 

I learned that when you come out of the Hot Springs, your legs feel like lead for a few moments... such a weird sensation....

our most patient and wonderful stage manager Marianna Rosato

Eunoia team at the Takhini Hot Springs near Whitehorse, Yukon

Laurel MacDonald (video operator, multi-talented multi-disciplinary artist, one whose hair is never mussed by the wild Cape Spear winds):

What did I learn about EUNOIA? (so far ; )

The all-encompassingness of it, in process and in fruition. The complexity of the many layers wide and deep, the dizzying detail within each layer, the multiplicity of interaction between them.

The ongoing subtle morphing that occurs as we learn more and more about the piece and how we influence it, and as we adapt to the constant changes in physical and psychological context.

How we are continually challenged to be more fleet of foot, tongue, brain than we thought we could be... then, just when we have risen to the challenge and gained a new sense of accomplishment, it reminds us, once again, that: no, no, we have still not learned everything yet - there is always another lesson in store.

Laurel at work

Denise Fujiwara (choreographer, mastermind, force-with-which-to-be-reckoned):
What I learned about EUNOIA:

- that beautiful thinking is the only way to go.  Christian Bök is a remarkably positive, curious, creative thinker and somehow, those qualities have infiltrated our work.  Those qualities have made a difficult project rich with exploration, learning, creativity, delight and friendship.  Aristotle used the term eunoia to refer to the feelings of goodwill one must have in order to cultivate a relationship and to form the "ethical foundation of human life".    I am grateful for the friendships that have deepened through the generous extensions of trust, commitment and kindness of all involved with this project.  EUNOIA, the performance work blossomed because of that generosity.

that "In rhetoric, eunoia is the goodwill a speaker cultivates between himself and his audience, a condition of receptivity."   Thanks to Gerry for stepping up as Voice Director and teaching me how this is possible.  

Denise Fujiwara, classic, during strike in Whitehorse

all photos used by the generosity and photographic power of Phil Strong

in Toronto
November 3-7 at 8pm
November 8 at 3pm
Harbourfront Centre Theatre

Saturday, October 17, 2015

EUNOIA in Calgary: Marie France Forcier relocates and Fujiwara Dance Inventions at Fluid Festival.

1    Marie France Forcier is the artistic director of Forcier Stage Works, a dancer and new Calgarian. After her very recent relocation from Toronto to Calgary. She made the performance of Fujiwara Dance Inventions' EUNOIA an assignment for her class at the University of Calgary Dance Department. EUNOIA is on tonight at Theatre Junction GRAND as part of Fluid Festival in association with Word Fest. Here's a quick Q and A with Marie France.
photo of Marie France Forcier by Walter Lai

     LR: How is the relocation to Calgary going for you? 

MFF: There have been a lot of changes in my circumstances this year: I became a mother, I relocated out West after 15 years in Toronto and I started my first academic appointment. When people ask me this question, I find it hard to isolate the Calgary factor in the equation. So, I’ll answer as best I can: well enough! I feel as though I haven’t yet gotten much of a sense of the local dance community yet, spending the totality of my time whether at work or taking care of the baby. That being said, I have a short performance and a blog entry coming up for the Fluid Festival. I’m hoping that my participation helps to kick-start my integration.

2  LR: What is your new position at University of Calgary and what does it entail)?
     MFF: That would be Assistant Professor in Dance in the School of Creative and Performing Arts, Faculty of Arts, University of Calgary. Essentially, there are three parts to the professorial responsibilities: teaching, research and community service. This term, I am teaching a first year course: Introduction to Creative Process: Vocabulary and Analysis, and a third year course: Creative Process: Choreography. I feel fortunate, because I love discussing creativity and there is a lot of that going on in both of those courses.
     In terms of research, I am further expending on my existing work on trauma and choreography both in writing and in the studio. I am in the initial draft phase of an article on the politics of presentation and censorship in trauma-related performance, and am starting a new process for a shared program at U of C with Melanie Kloetzel this coming January. Additionally, I am choreographing a work for Dance Montage, a long-running series for community dancers and am serving on various committees, both for U of C and other academic organizations.     

Marie France Forcier's Scars are all the Rage photo by Craig Chambers
dancers: Justine Comfort, Molly Johnson and Louis Laberge-Cote

3    LR: Why did you choose to assign EUNOIA performances to your class(es)?

      MFF: I will be honest and say that I foremost chose EUNOIA for personal reasons. I was out of town when it first premiered in Toronto a couple of years ago and I was disappointed that I couldn’t see it -- this is my chance!

     Of course, there was also more substantial reasoning going into my decision: I wanted the students to see a full-length work from an out-of-town artist, Christian Bök’s poem is a concrete choreographic departure point for the students to research and I believe that exposing dance students to mature artists on stage serves to subtilize or, at least, broaden their appreciation of what is valuable in performance. 

Marie France Forcier's class at the University of Calgary with Forcier's baby River
photo by Oscar Surla

LR: What do you hope the students will absorb/learn/engage with by seeing it?

MFF: I assigned the EUNOIA to my two classes, in fulfillment of different assignments. My first year class will use their experience as a departure point for descriptive writing and basic movement analysis, while my third year class will concentrate on identifying compositional and choreographic strategies inherent to the piece and speculate on how they might apply similar ideas in their own work. 

Saturday October 17 8pm at Theatre Junction Grand, Calgary
Fluid Festival

Fujiwara Dance Inventions continues the Canadian tour in Whitehorse!
Yukon Arts Centre 
October 23, 8pm

Monday, September 28, 2015

Dance TO Showcase Feature #9: Forgive the pun...short and sweet with Yvonne Ng

Please forgive the pun, but our final feature on the Dance TO Showcase artists and presenters is short and sweet on all counts: Yvonne Ng. She may be small, but she is a dynamic performer, thinker, doer, high-energy, witty and compassionate. She is a choreographer and dancer like no other, but also, and importantly, the director of the dance: made in canada/fait au canada festival (d:mic/fac).

Don't forget to get yourself out to the opening party of Dance TO Showcase events, tonight September 28th 5-6:30, followed by a free showcase performance with Louis Laberge-Cote, Tribal Crackling Wind and inDANCE. 

And here, to finish off our interview series, the succinct and smart answers of Yvonne Ng.

LUCY: Why was d:mic/fac founded? How has that shifted over the years?

YVONNE: It was founded to give back to the community, my community; as a complimentary platform to DanceWorks and Harbourfront Centre; as a way to expand my dual life. In addition to dancing/choreographing i also enjoy producing. It started as a short run of shows every other year, but has since changed to a festival format - more programmes in each edition of the festival.

LUCY: What keeps you inspired as a dancer, as a creator, as a curator?

YVONNE: Inspiration for me comes from many sources, it is hard to narrow it down because that kind of isn’t how my mind or life works.  I mean, people are incredible - what we deem the brilliant or good and the less brilliant, bad people, how we respond to each other, what we do to each other knowingly and unknowingly.  I’m not really knowledgable about politics and global issues but the web like nature of the world and its cycles really fascinates me.

LUCY: What do you think dance artists can do to improve the health of the Toronto dance community?

YVONNE: In general, we should feel even more proud to be a dance artist BASED in Toronto, boast about it.  We’ve got a strong contingent of superb dance artists in Toronto.  We also have dance artists who are wonderfully enterprising and motivated, if they want to initiate change - create complimentary services or join forces with existing organisations who are probably looking for new voices etc. One negative:  Don’t be reinventing platforms just for the sake of building it yourself.  

LUCY what is your dream d:mic/fac?

YVONNE: dance: made internationally - exchanges with different countries - my dream has always been that a dance:made in canada would be a reciprocal exchange with other countries.  That an entire program would travel to Germany or China and Toronto audiences would have dance: made in Germany or China come here.

LUCY: Can you tell me about a performance you’ve seen that was a game changer — artistically or personally? Something you were in the audience for, rather than performing in. 

YVONNE: I'm not really inclined to pick favourites mostly because I just think there is such diversity in dance.  How can I compare a beautiful and raw solo at Series 8:08 to Jean Pierre’s Joe with a dozen amazing dancers creating this visual and sonic cacophony?

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Dance TO Showcase Feature #8: The Unstoppable Jasmyn Fyffe

Electric, powerful, compassionate, restless soul. Jasmyn Fyffe is like a little sister to me, even though there is nothing little or immature about her. I offer this interview with the full disclosure that I admire and cheer for Jasmyn and Jasmyn Fyffe Dance. I love seeing her flourish artistically, I am delighted by her positivity and "let's make this happen" attitude.

photo by Christopher Cushman

       LUCY: Why did you want to have a dance company?

JASMYN: When I graduated from York University I was hungry and eager to get into the industry as both a dancer and choreographer however my impatience led me to really push towards creating my own opportunities and work. I wanted to do shows and create choreography and I wanted to do it right away. 

In retrospect I didn't have to start a company to make this a reality but I did. I wanted to create a platform to create work with dancers and collaborators who were interested in my vision and just interested in me and my journey as an artist. I had no idea what I was doing and I still continue to learn on the job. I have also had many mentors over the years who have guided me along in helping me achieve my goals, including you Lucy.

LUCY: Well, you know I've always loved what you do. It's been a pleasure to be of any use. I hope we can finally dance together sometime soon! I remember at first you had a different name for your company, "as the spirit moves". What was the reason for changing the name of your company? 

JASMYN: When I first started my company I had a particular vision for it. With growth both in life and artistically my vision has shifted. Somewhere along the way I felt the name "as the spirit moves" was limiting and carried with it certain connotations. I don’t want to be boxed or labelled. I want my art to speak for itself; not my gender, race, culture or spirituality. I understand that those aspects may come out in work that I create but they also might not and that is okay. 

In essence, the name Jasmyn Fyffe Dance allows me to feel like I can do as I feel, as I am inspired and just let the art be what it is. There are no boundaries and over the years the dancers I work with best suit the vibe of the work and company at that time.  I have a very solid team of collaborators at the moment that suit the work and enjoy it. For this I am very grateful.

LUCY: What is your dream project?

JASMYN: This is such a tricky question and I feel the answer changes as time goes on.  I’m a dreamer and I like to dream BIG! I think my dream project would be characterized by creating and performing in a show that tours internationally, brings the best vibes to people (both artists involved and the audience) and involves some kind of community outreach.  

I love being on stage sharing with audiences and creating and sharing energy with other artists, I love inspiring and being inspired, and I love travelling. It would also be a part of my dream to share the stage with my son Manoah. Just thinking about all of this sounds so perfect. The sky is the limit!

LUCY: Is there one particular location you’d like to take your company to perform? 

JASMYN: Last year I participated in an arts festival in Sinop, Turkey. It was such an amazing and phenomenal experience for me to travel across the globe and create and share my art. This is a real passion of mine and it always greatly inspires me when I get the opportunity to do so. The vibe in Turkey was very open and very free and I loved it.  I have heard from fellow artists that have worked/lived in Europe about their experiences and I would really love to explore this region more, experience the culture and grow and explore artistically with the company.  Recently I've also become interested in seeing what the contemporary dance scene is like in West and South Africa.  I loved the culture shock I felt in Turkey, it was such a powerful shift that took place in my and it was really life changing. I want my whole company to experience the same as we continue to progress and grow.

LUCY: What do you think dance artists can do to improve the health of the Toronto dance community? 

JASMYN: Well, I think one of the main issues is that we have dance events at the same damn time. I think we are a small enough dance community to have less cross over with our shows and events. It would be super fantastic if we could have a calendar with all the dance events happening and then people could slot their times and events in from there. 

Don’t get me wrong, I know its next to impossible to never have any overlap but it is so hard to get to everything when things seem to be overlapping all the time. Also, (and I know this is happening a bit more these days) but I feel the community is very segregated in terms of dance style; it is segregated in other ways as well but I’m focusing on dance style. We need more cross over in the community so that we can grow together in a more well-rounded fashion.  These are just a few thoughts that have been running across my mind.

LUCY: Can you tell me about a performance that was game-changing/life-changing/art-changing? Something you were part of as an audience member — who was it, where, when, why was it impactful?

JASMYN:  This is such hard one for me to answer, and I don't know why. I guess it is because I have seen so many inspiring performances but Im not sure which ones have been life or game changing. And I am also trying not to be 'typical' or 'cliche' as well.  However I remember watching Crystal Pite's Dark Matter and just being so mesmerized by the beauty, structure and brilliance of it all.

I love when I am sitting in the audience seriously trying to figure out how an artist has come up with their creation. It is very fascinating. I had seen clips of it online before watching it live and even they made me want to go into the studio and start creating something or just start moving in general. 

Be inspired by Jasmyn Fyffe Dance 
Tuesday September 29th 4:45pm
Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre
admission is free for Toronto dance artists by RSVP to

more about Jasmyn's company:

Full Dance TO Showcase performance schedules:!showcase-performances/czy5

all about Dance TO Showcase

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Dance TO Showcase Feature #7 Outspoken, Fiesty and in your corner: Hari Krishnan

He's funny, he's fresh, he's fearless.  Hari Krishnan and his company inDANCE are featured in the upcoming Dance TO Showcase performances. Read on to hear his funny, fresh and fearless responses to my Dance TO Showcase-themed questions.

LUCY: Could you tell me a few things about yourself that most people in the dance community wouldn’t know? Anything racy, funny, bizarre?

HARI: I am addicted to the movie ‘Grease’- I’ve watched it at least once a month since I was seven years old!
My favorite color is purple.
I don’t drink coffee or tea (My Mom knows why!)
My very last meal would be a PB&J sandwich.
Gay porn bores me.
I must squeeze the toothpaste from the middle of the tube every time (it drives my boyfriend Rex crazy!)
Rex and I would kill to have Stewart Gilligan Griffin for a son along with bitch-Stewie and evil-Stewie!
We still want to kick George Bush Jnr’s ass, for “breaking” the world.
I am pissed Justin Trudeau is so bland and ill prepared.
Kathleen Wynne be MORE fierce girl!
Up yours Harper!
Under no circumstances, should Canada take Justin Bieber back!

LUCY: Wow. I do that with the toothpaste too. Drives my husband nuts as well. So other than Grease, what keeps you inspired — both to keep creating and to keep dancing?

HARI: An innate, insane, masochistic, obsession/compulsion death-wish striving for my ‘voice’ to be heard.  Of course, this struggle doesn’t pay the bills!

But the standing O, when justly earned, is just as rewarding as the other big O! Never enough.

LUCY: So the need to have your voice heard, was that the driving motivation to form your own company?

HARI: I feel I have a strong, unique artistic voice. Through experience, I realized I would have to alter, adapt, dilute or disown that voice if I were to speak through the medium of another artist or company. Therefore the birth of inDANCE.

My company is an umbrella under which I seek shelter from the common prevailing cacophony (the generic Indian dance company) that already exists. 

My artistic practice, though rooted in decades of research and training with disenfranchised hereditary dance communities stemming from critical, often forgotten feminist dance histories, is further informed by my global lived life experiences, my personal politics on gender, queer sexuality and eroticism, breaking the rules of what is considered ‘tradition’, subverting cliché and challenging dominant discourses on global culture. 

inDANCE is instrumental in expanding my personal politics and practice while interfacing collaboratively with local and international dancers, musicians, composers, designers, scholars and activists.

LUCY:  What is your dream project? 

HARI: In a perfect world, I would sell my boyfriend AND my Mom to work on a 3-way collaboration with the National Ballet, Crystal Pite and my company inDANCE – ON MY TERMS. Of course, I believe in Unicorns too!

As far as international collaborations go, my dreams would seem even more impossible….

LUCY: I guess we'll save those for another interview....Down another avenue: what do you think dance artists can do to improve the health of the toronto dance community?

HARI: On a serious note:

We in the Toronto dance community should conduct a brutally honest audit of ourselves. Our best are bailing town and leaving for greener pastures abroad- to the US, Europe, Asia and then returning only after we’ve peaked. Why is that?

We seem fully content in our own insulated world.

Unfortunately many of us are racist, ignorant and tend to Orientalize, while grand-standing otherwise.

The awards committees are a dance mafia comprised of the usual suspects nominating, adjudicating and winning! Most jurors don’t even bother to attend most of the shows they’re evaluating.

There is a xenophobic aversion on the part of presenters and audiences to support risk taking cross-cultural work unless the risk taker is a ‘celebrated’ entity. In many instances, the undeserving mediocre still rule.

Even the dance fraternity discriminates against its own i.e. artistic directors, dancers and their collaborators in one genre hardly/rarely exhibit any curiosity to investigate the output of other artists/genres.

All of this harms the impetus to create work that is original and otherworldly. Innovation is welcome only if names/brands are bankable and this mostly ensures repetitive redundancy.

Others have proffered all of the above complaints several times over the years and their solutions put forward are very similar to the ones I have to offer. Unfortunately, it all stops at the level of JUST TALKING.

In any case, at the risk of probably losing some old friends and making fewer new ones, here is my perspective:

I strongly recommend our fraternity keep coming together in person, en masse, regularly in a round table brainstorming session to admit these issues exist and consider various options to address them, because there are many, many perspectives, as there are solutions. These meetings should provide a safe, nurturing environment for all attending to be authentic and honest, thus proving to be a productive forum for all.

While I understand that financial resources are a constraint, we should consider the option of inviting our peers (on a complementary basis) to see each other’s work as often as possible to foster a fair exchange of ideas, and understand each others’s genres on a more equitable basis. With that awareness, we should all be considered Canadian and not necessarily culture or community specific, even when some forms do not fit pre-conceived paradigms of what dance is or should be.

Reciprocally, the invitees should be respectful and curious enough to accept the generous invitations extended to them, to build bridges to kinship.

Hopefully this would help constitute a truly more inclusive integrated dance community.

I call for a bolder, more honest, TRULY progressive mindset amongst artists, presenters and audiences.

Dance artists living in the city must think about what excellence is and how that is defined in dance globally. Without this panoramic and self-reflexive attitude, the quality of dance-making and art-production in the city is going to deteriorate even further and not qualify to be showcased on international platforms.

A truly world class global city like London (UK) or Madrid (Spain) nurtures a multitude of representations in contemporary dance. Artists taking risks and making incredible work come from various ethnicities, specializing in non-European dance styles and embracing differing cultural influences. Many of these artists are the face of contemporary dance in Europe. They are nurtured and supported by arts agencies, arts councils, the dance fraternity and by the community at large. Hence their work is current and representative of a 21st century global world mosaic. 

Sadly, I do not see this kind of support and representation in Toronto and yet we pride ourselves on being a global world-class city for the arts.  I call on presenters in the city to cast a wider net and look at artists of various genres and styles who are making excellent work and are taking risks grounded in this excellence.

Art should not always be about financial profit.

In all fairness, I should not fault the artists and presenters alone, because audiences also play a crucial role through their patronage and perceptions of dance in the city. I appeal to the city’s audiences to partake in all kinds of dance while applying democratic standards in their evaluation of the artist’s unique voice.

Whether the artist is working in singular or diverse styles and genres, I encourage the audience to see their work with a fresh, open mind and not judge or dismiss them as irrelevant on the basis of their name, skin colour or dance genre.

As in most TRULY international cities, I dream of audiences in Toronto who patronize and nurture all kinds of dance with an open mind and heart.

LUCY: Again, wow. Thank you for your honesty and incisiveness. I think some of us are scared to say how we really feel sometimes, but you've shown me that with a good, open heart you can be critical without being cruel in this light.  

Ok, final question: Can you tell me about a performance that was a game-changer, art-changer for you — something you were part of as an audience member — who was it, where, when, why was it impactful to you?

HARI: Hands down it was being in the audience, watching Sylvie Guillem’s farewell performance, “A Life in Progress” at the Sadler’s Wells in London this May. It was an absolutely life changing experience as an artist and human being. Here is a dancer TRULY deserving of the much bandied about phrase “sheer poetry in motion”.
Articulate. Precise. Terse. Haunting.

Aspiring to bask in her shadow makes my artistic Sisyphean life worthwhile.

See inDANCE at Dance TO Showcase performance
Monday September 28th at 6:30 pm 
(right after the Cocktail launch party 5-6:30pm)
Harbourfront Centre Theatre (formerly ENWAVE theatre)

all about inDANCE:

all about Dance TO Showcase:

all photos courtesy of Hari Krishnan/inDANCE