Thursday, September 3, 2015

Dance TO Showcase Feature #4: Holly Treddenick of Femmes du Feu

One of the things I am particularly proud of in my career is the time I spent working with Circus Orange -- dancing with fire and pyrotechnics in all types of environments and weather systems. Through this work I came to understand circus as an art form beyond its large-scale entertainment appeal. I also came to know aerial dancers such as Holly Treddenick (well, to be honest I knew her before, but I got to know her better during my time working in circus). I saw multi-talented artists  striving to challenge themselves physically and emotionally through the art, defying the idea that circus is purely spectacle. 

Holly Treddenick is now one of the founders of Femmes du Feu, a company is doing just that, making contemporary dance/contemporary circus works that defy simple categorization and seek emotional impact. They are a company chosen to be part of the Dance TO performance showcase this fall,  programmed by Dance TO Showcase partner Harbourfront.

photo of Holly Treddenick courtesy of the artist

LUCY: Why was femmes de feu founded? how has it shifted over time?

HOLLY: Femmes du Feu was founded in 2003 by Lindsay Milakovick (now known as Lindsay Goodtimes) and myself. We had been long time dance partners and friends. We had gone through School of Toronto Dance Theatre together (graduating in 1999), had created and performed together, and had become close friends. 

Lindsay and I had learned fire-spinning from a friend, Natalie Fullerton. We began choreographing fire dances using our dance backgrounds and our new fire skills. We did a few shows together and spent a summer busking on the streets of downtown Toronto. As we were doing more and more performances and decided to put it under an umbrella and form our company, Femmes du Feu. That was us, “women of fire”- both fire signs in our western and Chinese astrological signs!

Around 2005, our other best friend from our School of Toronto Dance Theatre days, Sabrina Pringle, arrived home after touring with the Caravan Stage Barge with new skills of aerial silks. We convinced her to teach us. The three of us were heading deeper and deepr into the world of circus. Sabrina joined Femmes du Feu in 2006 and we began integrating aerial silks into our work.

photo of Sabrina Pringle and Holly Treddenick courtesy of Femmes du Feu

The company has changed a lot since it’s inception, our focus has always to integrate circus skills with contemporary dance, to cross disciplines while exploring new formats and collaborations. Lindsay has phased out as an artistic director, though she still joins us on occasional projects. 

We also now host events such as Aer Time and Circus Sessions in order to help develop the art form.
Femmes du Feu photo by Zhenya Cerneacov

The company has changed and morphed even by the sheer nature of staying committed to each other, the company and an arts practice. There have had to be times where we were more or less active, but I’m excited to see what lies ahead for us.

LUCY: Between you, Sabrina and your regular collaborators there are lots of kids! How many?

HOLLY: I have 2 kids, Sabrina has 2, Natalie Fullerton, who works with us often has 1, Lindsay has 2, and Lara Ebata -- another regular collaborator is super aunty!!

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

HOLLY: If I stay open, inspiration comes from everywhere and anything. I’m finding more and more that the closer to myself that I look and listen for inspiration, the more honest and from my heart I create.

I often turn to this quote:

“When you’re afraid, just train
When something doesn’t feel right, just train
When you don’t believe in yourself, just train
The only thing that won’t betray you is your training”
- Sakaki

Training= conditioning, improvising, reading, seeing shows, writing, rehearsing, keeping my body/ mind/spirit healthy

Femmes du Feu photo by Foto Dances

LUCY: What do you think dance artists can do to improve the health of the Toronto dance community?  -- Not that it’s ailing, I want to accumulate ideas for how to make things better!

HOLLY: More affordable studio space! Wow. That’s important. And more venues/performance series/ presenters to present raw, unfinished experimental works.

LUCY: Do you have a dream project for Femmes du Feu?

HOLLY: There isn’t one “dream” project for Femmes du Feu. For us the dream is more of a continuum. I would love to produce a show for World Stage and tour around the world-- Canada, Europe, Asia, bring our families…

I dream of seeing the community work we do (like Aer Time and Circus Sessions) continue and one day be run by the next generation.

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. Who was it, when, where, why was it impactful?

HOLLY: I recently saw It Comes In Waves by Blue Mouth Inc. The show began by canoeing to Toronto Island. It was presented as part of Panamania. It was magical, mystical, mature, fresh, raw, exposed and personal. We were in nature. We touched the water, trees, grass. Saw a naked dance. Ate, drank, danced. We were guided through self-reflections. The acting, the music, the images, the scenes; I was moved. Each performer is unique and so special. I was there with my best friends. It was an experience. It opened me up. I would be so honored to work with those artists one day.

See Femmes du Feu in beautiful action at Dance TO Showcase

Tuesday September 29th at 4:45 pm 
Fleck Dance Theatre
Free admission for Toronto professional dance artists.
to reserve your spot RSVP: info@dancetoshowcase.com

for more on Femmes du Feu:
http://www.femmesdufeu.com

for the full schedule of the Dance TO Showcase performances:
http://www.dancetoshowcase.com/#!showcase-performances/czy5

all about Dance TO Showcase: 
www.dancetoshowcase.com

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