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Interviews, essays and commentary published by The Dance Current.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Canadian Tap Dance: On Stage & Screen

By Lys Stevens

“When I slid out onto the stage, my body could feel the sound waves of the 65,000 people screaming.” At that moment on February 12th, choreographer and soloist Brock Jellison joined 120 volunteer tap dancers performing at Vancouver’s BC Place for the 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies. A few minutes later the “hero” tap dancers, some of Canada’s hottest tappers, were added to the mix for a few more minutes of high-level and high-energy foot stomping, while fiddle bows flew with rousing Celtic music. The section, “Rhythms of the Fall”, ended as the bare-chested and tattooed Jellison was joined by flamboyant fiddler Ashley MacIsaac in an electrifying master duet.

Close to four billion people worldwide were watching, a fact hero tapper Travis Knights was fully aware of. “For that one moment I was going to be at the centre of the world,” he says, “and that was a very earth-shattering experience for me.” But those ten or more minutes of personal glory were equally momentous for Canada’s tap dance community. Amid the extreme nationalism and exaltation of athleticism that is the Olympics experience, the moment will likely prove pivotal for tap in Canada.

Tap dance has been featured in performances across Canada in recent years. The 2010/2011 performance season also includes a number of events showcasing tap in various contexts. Fans can revisit the tap stylings of Canadian tap icons Ruby Keeler and Jeni LeGon on screen. The Eastern Canadian Tap Conference takes place in Mississauga on October 16th and17th at Living Arts Centre, and the next Vancouver International Tap Dance Festival and Tap in Canada Conference is planned for fall 2011.

On stage:

After a foray into the commercial dance world internationally, Brock Jellison returned to Vancouver to explore his own artistic voice, creating Ruckus Company, which incorporates tap, hip hop and contemporary dance. His major pieces are 77 minutes (2006) and Ricochet (2007), both featuring original music. Ricochet toured British Columbia in 2009. www.ruckuscompanyproductions.com

Although Ontario-native Heather Cornell’s career is international and largely based in New York City, she maintains strong contacts with Canada’s tap community, recently creating CanTap, an ensemble of top Canadian tappers including Travis Knights, Tasha Lawson, Danny Nielsen, Matt Shields and Dayna Szyndrowski. They have performed in Vancouver, Boston and Germany and would love to tour more in Canada. www.manhattantap.org

Choreographed by Joel Hanna, a Canadian based in New York City, Revolution, The Show was presented at Jacob’s Pillow this summer before touring Europe. Hanna is looking for more North American engagements for the performance. www.revolutiontheshow.com

Decidedly Jazz Danceworks has produced several works involving tap dance including Tinge & Tone (Spring 2008), twentyfive by Heather Cornell (for their twenty-fifth anniversary in spring 2010), and 2010: A Tap Oddity by American Joshua Hilberman, presented in March 2010. www.decidedlyjazz.com

At the Vancouver International Tap Dance Festival this September the performance of Tap Grace included work by the Vancouver Tap Ensemble, the BC Tap Project, Jeff Hyslop and others. www.vantapdance.com

TapCo is VTDS’s youth performance ensemble directed by Mika Komatsu. They will tour BC in the 2010/2011 season. www.vantapdance.com

Kim Chalovich’s company What’s on? Tap! and Everett Smith’s new SR and pro-level companies will be performing during the Eastern Canadian Tap Conference in October 2010, at Toronto’s Dance Weekend in January 2011 and in March and June 2011 at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga. www.whats-on-tap.com

Vancouver Tap Dance Society and the Centennial Theatre present American tapper Savion Glover in Bare Soundz on November 4th and 5th at the Centennial Theatre, Vancouver. On February 5th, 2011 Glover returns to Canada to perform SoLo in TiME in Ottawa at the National Arts Centre. www.saviongloverproductions.com

Tap Stew, created by Jennifer Bishop (The Urban Tap Squad) and Peggy Giesbrecht was presented to two sold out audiences in Vancouver in 2010. Watch for it in 2011! www.s2sproductions.com

Bill Coleman, of the contemporary dance company Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie, performs his unique “cosmic tap” alongside the live fifteen-piece Sun Ra Arkestra in Hymn to the Universe, presented at Place des arts in Montréal this December. www.colemanlemieux.com

Tap appears blended with African-Caribbean and popular dance styles in Ballet Creole’s Glorious Soulful Messiah each December in Toronto. www.balletcreole.org

Contemporary dance icon Marie Chouinard expands the possibilities of the tap shoe in a solo for Lucie Mongrain. Created in 2001, Étude No. 1 returns to the Montréal stage in April 2011 presented by Danse Danse. www.mariechouinard.com

On the silver screen:

Dartmouth-born Ruby Keeler was dubbed the “queen of taps” for her role in the 1933 film 42nd Street. Other movies in which she dances include Gold Diggers of 1933 and Footlight Parade all produced in1933 by Warner Brothers and all with dance direction by Busby Berkeley.

Jeni LeGon can be seen tapping alongside the great Bill Robinson in Hooray for Love(RKO, 1935), as well as in independently produced all-black cast films including Double Deal (1939), Take My Life (1942), and Hi-Di-Ho (1944) with jazzman Cab Calloway. Originally from Chicago, LeGon moved to Vancouver in 1969. Living In a Great Big Way is an NFB documentary on her life produced in 1999.

Lys Stevens is a dance researcher, writer and administrator who holds a Master’s in dance studies from UQÀM. She is a national council member of the CDA and curates various dance events at Studio 303 in Montréal

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beauty, art, retreat, nature | beauté, art, retraite, nature
Photos by/de Rod MacIvor, Tedd Robinson, Alana Kraaijeveld, Chris Randle and Pascal Teste
Interview by/de Megan Andrews, www.thedancecurrent.com

Tedd Robinson took up residence in the Pontiac, Québec, in 2005 and has been presenting dance in his barn since the summer of 2007. Robinson first rose to prominence as artistic director of Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers. He moved to Ottawa in 1990 and is now firmly established as a choreographer, solo artist and educator. Robinson is artistic director of 10 Gates Dancing Inc., a non-profit company formed in 1998. His work is influenced by his six years of study as a monk in the Hakukaze soto zen monastery, Ottawa. Robinson is a National Arts Centre Associate Dance Artist.


“My training was based in Euro-centric American-influenced modern dance but my choreographic style has developed during its nearly thirty-year journey to be something close to self-expression, something that I have labelled in the past as ‘abstract theatrical narrative’. I think I would term it now ‘abstract theatrical narrative imagistic technical dance’, but at a certain point we have to settle for something less than specific. My process is much like a lot of my contemporaries in that I give the movements to the dancers, make phrases and then put the phrases together or ask the dancers to put the phrases together, then I arrange those arrangements into work that has a context that I have gleaned from how the movement speaks to me. The images come from the gestural quality of the movement and the physical exertion of the performers … that leads to an emotionality that is not pasted on but comes from the body. I also sometimes give images, text or props to the people I work with and ask them to improvise. I tend to work with performers who have an innate sense of theatricality so that my process is really a collaboration with their experience. I have chosen as my main cultural influences Euro-romantic pop culture, Hollywood, and the imagery and sounds of Scottish and Japanese culture. I studied zen for nine years, six as a zen monk, which had and has a great impact on how I see movement and on my aesthetic landscape.”

Tedd Robinson s’installe dans le Pontiac, Québec, en 2005 et depuis l’été 2007, il présente de la danse dans sa grange. Robinson se fait connaître d’abord comme directeur artistique des Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers. Il déménage à Ottawa en 1990 et œuvre maintenant comme chorégraphe, artiste soliste et enseignant établi. Robinson est directeur artistique de l’organisme à but non lucratif 10 Gates Dancing Inc., fondé en 1998. Son travail est marqué par six ans d’études comme moine au monastère Hakukaze soto zen à Ottawa. Il est artiste de danse associé au Centre national des Arts.

« Ma formation est surtout en danse moderne eurocentrique d’influence américaine, mais mon style chorégraphique s’est développé au cours de trente ans pour devenir proche d’une expression personnelle, un style que j’ai déjà qualifié de « récit théâtral abstrait ». À présent, je pense que je le nommerai « danse-récit théâtrale abstraite imagée technique », mais il faut éventuellement accepter quelque chose de moins précis. Mon processus ressemble beaucoup à celui de mes contemporains : je propose des mouvements aux interprètes, je crée des enchaînements. Ensuite, je fais une suite d’enchaînements ou je demande aux interprètes de le faire, et je façonne ces enchaînements pour former une pièce qui émane de mon interprétation du mouvement. Les images viennent de la qualité du mouvement proche du geste et du travail physique des interprètes … cela se transforme en une qualité émotive qui n’est pas collée sur le corps mais qui en découle. Parfois, je présente des images, des textes ou des accessoires aux danseurs et je les demande d’improviser. Je tends à travailler avec des interprètes qui ont un sens inné de la théâtralité afin que le processus soit une collaboration qui puise leurs expériences. J’ai choisi mes influences culturelles principales ainsi : la culture populaire euro-romantique, Hollywood, ainsi que l’imagerie et les sons des cultures écossaise et japonaise. J’ai étudié le zen pendant neuf ans, dont six ans comme moine ; cela a beaucoup marqué ma perception du mouvement et mon paysage esthétique. »


You’re known for the striking visuality of your works, in particular your use of objects, often at an extreme scale. In the first piece I saw of yours, Lexicons of Space (1994), you performed the entire thirty-five minute work with an eight-and-a-half-foot yucca tree balanced on your head. In Red Line, you use a thirty-metre-long red sash. Your Fruit Studies, in which groups of dancers manipulate grapefruits, are legendary. Along with the dream-like flow of movement imagery, these objects give an “Alice in Wonderland” quality to your work. Could you reflect on the significance of these objects in your dances? How different is it to make a work without an object or objects like this?

These objects were not necessarily intended to become part of my work. The first Fruit Study was Requiem for a Grapefruit, which I created to be performed at a garden party, hosted by Harold Rhéaume and I, at our home in the market area of Ottawa. I did not know what I was going to perform but went out (rather grumpily as I recall) for a walk and was struck by the bright August Saturday sunlight shining on the beautiful big yellow grapefruits in the outdoor market. In a flash I saw the new work involving sixteen grapefruits, a ladder, a glass of water and “In Paradisum”, the final section of Fauré’s Requiem. I then went on to create over fifty or so studies with fruit. These studies were not sequential and I tried balancing other objects on my head … like sticks. Then a whole philosophical element came from this. I referred to it as functional movement and as minimal circus. I don’t really think of working with the objects as something separate from making my work as a whole. I have always worked within an entire universe that is filled with many things visual, and I still consider myself in this journey of exploration.

I have made many works without objects but for me they are not as interesting as the ones with objects. And yet … when I am working, I am almost always interested.

In your 2006 solo, REDD, you returned to several motifs from previous works – including balancing a branch on your head. Your series of fruit studies includes over fifty works. In several dances, you’ve used similar velvet tube-like costumes (Stone Velvet for Yvonne Ng and Robert Glumbek for example). You seem to have a conscious practice of repetition and self-quoting in your creations. How do you understand these repetitions and motifs in your oeuvre?

I don’t look at it as self-quoting or even repetition but of investigation and thematic development. The original tube dresses are the silhouette of the bottom half of a Japanese kimono. I love the simple and elegant lines that they provide and the negative space that they create in a black box setting. We see just the arms, head and feet if we choose. I used them in conjunction with Mahler songs at the beginning of the research cycle (probably three or four years) and then mostly used them for creations at LADMMI [L’école de danse contemporaine] where I have created at least five to seven works with tubes and objects. Lately I have been working with five-foot squares of material (It started, again, at Le Groupe Dance Lab and continued at STDT [School of Toronto Dance Theatre], in my solo REDD, with Old Men Dancing in Peterborough, at LADMMI (most recently with tube dresses) and in a new solo for Yvonne Ng.) The balancing of objects in my work started in the late eighties with balls painted like globes and balanced on the eye sockets of the dancers in the work Blind Angel. I have continued to investigate this idea since then. I found that I liked to watch what the body did when it was doing something functional, something other than “dancing”. I played with the subtleness of whether the body was supporting the object, usually a grapefruit, or hanging from it. In workshops it brought out ways of teaching subtlety and sensitivity in a gentle and profound way: “you” have to disappear from the performance in order for the grapefruit to balance. I refer to it as minimal circus as there is not a real risk but those watching do tend to empathize with the body balancing and feel the precariousness of the situation. Before the grapefruit workshops, I ran workshops called, “If you think you are dancing … you are not! You are thinking!” The Grapefruit workshops were an extension and explanation of the previous workshops.

You seem to have a fondness for the letter R in titles for your works, (and also a ‘k’ phoneme). Since 1996, you’ve created: Rokudo: six destinies in three steps, Red Line, Rigmarole, Recruiting Recalcitrance, Reclusive Conclusions and Other Duets, Cobalt Rouge, REDD, Rocks and The Reins, among others. Your program of works, R3, premieres this month. I’ve always wanted to ask you this: What is the significance of the letter R?

It is actually really simple. It was by co-incidence at first but then it just became simpler for me to choose titles if I was limited to “R” … another abstract thematic thread to my work. Were you expecting something more?

You work often with emerging and mid-career artists as a mentor or monitor to facilitate the development of their voices and practices. Through this work, as well as your experience with students in dance training institutions and from performances you see, can you identify a significant new way of working or quality of work in general among up-and-coming dance artists?

No and I hope I never do … I look for a unique quality of individual expression that is not trendy or trained. I am looking for work that will blow my socks off but also touch me deeply in the heart area first and then the head. In the last ten years, from among emerging creators, I have been moved by: Viliam Docolomansky’s company in Prague: Farma y Jesni; the dedication of B-boys to pure movement; Ame Henderson’s Dance/Songs; Susie Burpee’s A Mass Becomes Her; Sasha Ivanochko; Martin Bélanger; Susanna Hood; Thierry Huard Forest; and the hope and talent that I see in a few hearts of this new generation of creator/performers. Also, of course, the many choreographers from my own generation, particularly Marie Chouinard, Édouard Lock, Daniel Léveillé, Peggy Baker, Paul-André Fortier and Margie Gillis who continue to inspire and intimidate me.

In Michael Crabb’s two-part article on the demise of Le Groupe Dance Lab (published in fall 2009 by The Dance Current: online), you comment on Artistic Director Peter Boneham’s influence on your artistic development. About your own artistic direction of Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers from 1984 through 1990, you say: “I had a great job, … but nobody was telling me the things I needed to hear. Peter, on the other hand, does not hold back. He told me I had an innate theatrical sense but that my vocabulary sucked. He made a lot of sense.” You subsequently worked closely with Peter at the Lab for a number of years. What did you learn from him that you carry forward in your own work as a mentor/monitor with developing choreographers?

So many things! One way I tried to learn was how to see work through Peter’s eyes. The process took place over several years. He would come into the studio and sit down beside me and we would watch a run of my work. He would then usually comment gently and quietly to me the areas that he thought I should look at. I would then look at these areas of concern, acknowledge the problem and arrive at some solution that satisfied me. Eventually after a few years we would sit down and watch a run, and I would say, “Well … there is this and this and this and that!” I had by this time thought that I could watch my work through his eyes, more so when he was sitting beside me but he always, and these days still, can point to something more. He recently helped tremendously with Dichterliebe, detailing and suggesting pivotal breakthroughs in structure.

I have learned from him to be direct, say as much as I can but not hinder the process and to work with the choreographer’s feelings about the work and not with their feelings about themselves or their dancers.

Monitoring/mentoring is a most difficult thing to do well. About half the time I feel as though I make a difference and the other half I feel as though I contribute nothing but another pair of eyes, which sometimes is all that is necessary. Then there are those times when working with me was the last choreographic venture of a few choreographer’s careers. Coincidence, or did I say something to change their course? I certainly hope coincidence.

If we accept the premise that making art has a certain basis in self-expression then we had better damn well have a good idea of who we are before we start saying we are artists. Of course few of us really know ourselves when we start … but it does make one pause …

In 2005, you moved to a rural property in the Pontiac region outside Ottawa/Gatineau and have since refurbished an existing barn as a rehearsal and performance space. You host artist residencies in the summer and present performances in the space. You call it La B.A.R.N. Out of curiosity, what does B.A.R.N. stand for? And, second, it is quite clear that you offer development opportunities for artists and performance experiences for those artists, as well as audiences of the area. How does the project/place stimulate your own artistic practice and fulfill your long-term vision?

La B.A.R.N. is an acronym for la beauté, les arts, la retraite, la nature (beauty, art, retreat, nature). The reason I have invested my time into this venue was guided by others’ desires rather than my own. I wanted a rehearsal space (I created REDD in the Barn) so I built a dance floor, a platform, in the barn. Margie Gillis came up the next summer and said, “let’s do a show”. With no budget and little advertising, we made a show with our own repertoire and made a new little duet, Kilt. People came. Beer-toting ATVers, cottagers, Margie and Tedd fans from Ottawa, neighbours … people came to my broken-down barn. My planned work for the next season did not have a venue. I was hoping for a spot for it at the Canada Dance Festival (CDF) but it did not work out because the work I did for the five professional contemporary dance schools was programmed and I could not hope for two large works to be at the CDF, so I said … “I’ll do it at the barn”. I had some work done to enlarge the audience area and keep the rain out and presented Rocks that summer. The NAC sold one of the shows and put thirty-five people on a bus. We fed them lunch and gave them a very interesting day.

So out of a place that I could work, naturally and organically grew this performance space. Also I decided to start our Exclusive Intensives. They ended up being an enriching experience for everyone involved including myself. That first intensive, I remounted an older work and coached a few solos (with the invaluable help of Susie Burpee) and cooked two meals a day for eight people.

Now I see that Barn as a special venue, a really valuable asset to the dance community. Many people have come to the Barn and created work with me, created their own work, taken class with Peter Boneham and others, participated as audience members, even just performed here. People have visited here for a couple of days just to get away from their city. People have used it as a destination for cycling, knowing that good food, good art and good company awaits them. People have come here just to help out with the work that needs to be done, just because they believe in the place and want to contribute. Without really advertising it as a centre for art, people are using it more and more as a place to think about art, make art, talk about art and see art. I think it is the intimacy and the whole welcoming landscape that brings them here. Even when it rains … it is not so bad. Even with the bugs … it is not so bad. And even with me here … it is not so bad.

For your own creations, you’ve commented that you experience an increased perceptual awareness of the world and your environment during the lead up to a new process. I wonder what kinds of things you notice in this period and how that informs your movement creation?

This was a more noticeable state when I first began to create, but it still occurs, if only subtly, when I start to create. It is simple really. If you have a purpose, and it is all encompassing, you are very aware of every potential contribution to the growth and goal of this purpose. Think of a parent and child, always the child is on the parent’s mind. I think it is the same with creation. When I am about to create a new work, I am more open to what that new work actually will be, what are possible meanings of it as it progresses and before I even start I am listening for sounds (mostly music) and looking at colours and shapes (mostly in clothes and structures) in a purposeful way such that these sounds, colours and shapes could somehow contribute to or even become the pivotal aspect of the new work. I watch more closely how people interact and listen more intently to what people are saying. And, of course, I notice my own thoughts and where they lead me. Having a purpose to all of this I think is the key, no matter how uneventful something is, if there is a perceived purpose everything is more interesting. The rhythm of the sound of my pencil on the crossword page becomes something more than solving the crossword could ever become.

I usually do not prepare for any movement invention/vocabulary before entering the studio. I feel that the movement arrives with the dancers.

In August you premiered a new group work – which appears on your October program, R3, at the National Arts Centre with live music – using Schumann’s Dichterliebe: A Poet’s Love, a song cycle composed in 1840 based on the lyric poetry of Germany’s Heinrich Heine. Where Schumann’s work is a kind of retelling of Heinrich Heine’s poems, adapted for musical treatment, you propose that your work is “Schumann’s Dichterliebe as retold by choreographer Tedd Robinson.” What drew you to work with Schumann’s music? In what ways is the work a “retelling”?

I see Schumann’s song cycle as a musical marriage of Heine’s work and Schumann’s music. There were many poems in Heine’s Buch der Lieder, and Schumann chose twenty then narrowed it down to sixteen. He selected a viewpoint and told a story. My re-telling is imagistic and non-narrative. It is coincidental and symbolic. It is a way to listen to Dichterliebe from another point of view without sacrificing the original (at least that is my intention). I studied Dichterliebe as a music student at York University in the seventies and have followed many musical interpretations of it since then. It has comforted me when I was lovelorn and I am sure each time it is played, its power is increased with all of those listeners who receive comfort in it.

Your R3 program is billed with reference to your interest in the nineteenth-century salon, an intimate and private environment for readings, performances, intellectual development, cultural exchange and study. Do you perceive a parallel between your hosting of residencies and performances at La B.A.R.N. and the salon? What values and potential engage you about this kind of setting? How will the salon context inform the performances of R3?

I had not thought of the barn in that way but now that you mention it, I suppose there is a co-relation. I have usually played in smaller theatres and have purposely done this as I feel that my work is better transmitted more intimately. This was the idea behind the activities here at the Barn: magnificent performers performing intimate work for a small number of spectators. Also, once I had experienced it, the idea that we work together all day then eat together in the evening has always seemed the only way a work should be created. There seems something quite civilized, yet adventurous about it. The Exclusive Intensives work the concept much more in that I bring together emerging dancers and choreographers, usually from across Canada, but last year we had participants from Ireland as well, and we all live together (they do at least, as I still live at my house across the road from the cottage where they are), and share food and stories and experiences. As far as I know many participants still keep in touch. It is a small way in which this country of ours can become smaller … through shared experiences like the Intensive (any intensive for that matter but because we have only a small number of students (six to eight)) it becomes both exclusive and intensive, intimate and lasting.

So this idea of shared experience is how I view performances as well. There is something very intimate and trusting about sitting in a dark theatre with a lot of strangers and watching people in various concentrated and open states … there is something soothing and hypnotic about it, but also adventurous as we really don’t know what will happen and how we will feel about it.

R3 is hopefully going to work in this way but I am never sure exactly how it will be until it is in the theatre.

I do have an aversion to telling what will happen or what I intend to happen or what I wanted to happen or what people should expect to see … as that totally takes away the adventure. People are most comfortable when they know what to expect … because then there are no surprises and the work either lives up to what their expectations were or it does not. But really the upper controlling hand, in my opinion, ought to be with the artists. An audience member must either trust in the journey or not. I would rather have twenty adventurous audience members who may “bravo” or “boo” than 300 people who have come because they have read exactly what it is they are about to see and approve of it.

In R3 you’re presenting excerpts of two past solos, Rokudo and Relic, as well as premiering a new one. I’m curious about your experience inside solo performances. You’ve commented in the past about the slipping and sliding transitions between personae or characters and how you learn about a work from within. How does this learning influence subsequent remounts of the work? How much are your solo works autobiographical in some sense? (I’ve heard that you frequently have a “Tedd” character in your group works. Is this true? If so, why?)

Hmmm, you have done some homework. I am now in the process of trying to figure out how my solos come about. It is not that it is mysterious but it is a long process and sometimes I forget when and how an idea or image appears. I have been for the last few years working on bringing my different processes together to become more whole. Throughout the last thirty years I have kept quite a large rift between how I work in the studio alone on myself and how I work choreographing on others. Alone I have always worked through improvising and recording as much as I could on video, and then after a few months of ecstatic and inane dancing, an image will drop into my exhausted body, something simple, something I can remember (as I have a terrible memory for steps) and more to the point … something poignant. When I choreograph for others I do not have the time that I give myself for my solos. Also I usually work with extremely talented dancers and I want to make them do the things that I can’t possibly do – a dichotomy that does not serve the work I think. So I am working towards changing my ever-evolving process.

The nature of my solo work is really about remembering to accomplish given instructions in an order, on musical cues. At least that is what it is like at the first run-through. During the subsequent runs and particularly the performances of the work it seems to begin to breathe within me and I find the road, and where I am going, but along the way I lose “me” to the performance of the work. I used to and still recognize the entity I called “the little guy” who I would say is my performance life force … the glint behind the eye … the person Tedd is too shy to be … the flirt, the lover, the entertainer, the handsome man, the innocent geisha, the stripper, the vampire and the angel. These archetypal seeds were instilled in me when I was a child (a kid lost in a dream world, hence perhaps your sense of Alice) but then planted, watered, fertilized and nurtured by [iconic British choreographer/performer] Lindsay Kemp who, in a mere eight weeks of study and association throughout May, June and July of 1978, changed my aesthetic life forever. I have not seen him since and there has not really been a reason, although I have always thought that I would like to seek him out and just say “I thank you Lindsay”, even if he did not remember me, which apparently he might not, but with some prodding (probably a lot) … he might.

My solos are autobiographical in nature, but are rooted in the stories of my aspirations and wonderings about influences and curiosities and those energies we may refer to as past lives. They are fantasies based in “tedd-fact” and I don’t think that is much different from anyone else who creates.

(Sometimes but not always, there might be a character in my group work that would be the role that I might see myself performing … it is usually the one that does not move so much. Rob Abubo was that me in the many works I created at Le Groupe while he was there.)

*Note de la traductrice : en français dans le texte

Tedd Robinson, 10 Gates Dancing, presents R3 from October 28th through 30th at the National Arts Centre, Ottawa. | Tedd Robinson, 10 Gates Dancing, présente R3 du 28 au 30 octobre, au Centre national des Arts, Ottawa.

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Feature: Taking the Pulse, Tap Dance in Canada

Summary | Sommaire

Close to four billion people worldwide were watching the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies in February 2010, in which some of Canada’s hottest tap dancers performed for the screaming crowd. Tap is on the rise in this country...

En février 2010, près de quatre milliards de spectateurs regardent la cérémonie d’ouverture des Jeux olympiques d’hiver, alors que quelques-uns des meilleurs danseurs de claquettes du Canada se présentent devant la foule en délire. La danse à claquettes prend son envol au pays...

Close to four billion people worldwide were watching the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies in February 2010, in which some of Canada’s hottest tap dancers performed for the screaming crowd. Tap is on the rise in this country. While the American tap revival of the 1970s and 1980s didn't quite take hold in Canada, we have our own legends and icons of the form, including Ruby Keeler (1909–1993), Jeni LeGon (b.1916), Leonard Gibson (1926–2008) and Ethel Bruneau (b.1936). William Orlowski continues to be a central force in the Canadian tap scene, and internationally renowned Heather Cornell is considered a pioneer in concert tap and one of the leading tap teachers on the scene today. Even so, many of the younger generation have still had to leave the country to pursue professional careers. Some, including Everett Smith of So You Think You Can Dance Canada fame, are now returning home to join colleagues in a Canadian resurgence. People like Sas Selfjord, director of the Vancouver Tap Dance Society, and Kim Chalovich, artistic director of the Mississauga-based company What's On? Tap!, have been taking the lead in organizing festivals and conferences, bringing Canadian tappers together to exchange and advocate for the future of tap in Canada. In 2009, Selfjord convened the Rising Tides Conference in Vancouver and in September 2010, Chalovich and Smith opened The Tap Dance Centre in Mississauga. With a strong belief in the importance of roots, Selfjord and others invest their teaching and programming with historical and cultural awareness, acknowledging figures such as Bruneau, Le Gon, Cornell and Orlowski, who are also featured in sidebars on these pages.

En février 2010, près de quatre milliards de spectateurs regardent la cérémonie d’ouverture des Jeux olympiques d’hiver, alors que quelques-uns des meilleurs danseurs de claquettes du Canada se présentent devant la foule en délire. La danse à claquettes prend son envol au pays. Bien que la recrudescence du « tap » aux États-Unis dans les années 1970 et 1980 ne se soit pas tout à fait perpétrée au Canada, nous avons nos propres légendes de la forme, y compris Ruby Keeler (1909–1993), Jeni LeGon (née en 1916), Leonard Gibson (1926–2008) et Ethel Bruneau (née en 1936). William Orlowski demeure toujours une pierre angulaire du milieu au Canada et la renommée Heather Cornell est perçue comme une pionnière de la danse à claquettes comme danse de concert et une des maîtres du milieu. Malgré cela, de nombreux jeunes danseurs de claquettes doivent quitter le pays pour poursuivre une carrière professionnelle. Plusieurs, y compris Everett Smith, connu pour son passage à l’émission So You Think You Can Dance Canada, reviennent à la maison pour se joindre à leurs collègues dans la reprise de la danse à claquettes au Canada. Sas Selfjord, directrice de la Vancouver Tap Dance Society, et Kim Chalovich, directrice de la compagnie basée à Mississauga What’s On? Tap!, comptent parmi ceux qui prennent en charge l’organisation de festivals et de colloques. Elles réunissent les artistes de claquettes afin qu’ils se concertent pour l’avenir de la discipline au Canada. En 2009, Selfjord tient le colloque Rising Tides à Vancouver et en septembre 2010, Chalovich et Smith donnent le coup d’envoi au Tap Dance Centre à Mississauga. Tout en valorisant les origines de leur forme, Selfjord et d’autres imprègnent leur enseignement de sensibilités historique et culturelle, reconnaissant les grands de l’art comme Bruneau, LeGon, Cornell et Orlowski, qui figurent aussi dans les encadrés de cette édition du magazine.

Learn more | Pour en savoir plus >> www.thedancecurrent.com

Read the full article by Lys Stevens in the October 2010 issue of The Dance Current print magazine. | Lisez l'article intégral de Lys Stevensl dans l’édition imprimée de octobre 2010 du Dance Current.

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Profile: George Stamos

Summary | Sommaire

Montréal choreographer George Stamos talks about his new piece, Cloak, a duet that reflects on the identities we wear like costumes in our lives. The dancers alternately don and doff costume layers, facial coverings and accessories including large balloon breasts and bunny ears...

Chorégraphe établi à Montréal, George Stamos parle de sa nouvelle création, Cloak, un duo sur les identités que nous revêtons tels des costumes au cours d’une vie. Les interprètes portent tour à tour des costumes, des couvre-visage et des accessoires, y compris de grands seins-ballons et des oreilles de lapin...

Montréal choreographer George Stamos talks about his new piece, Cloak, a duet that reflects on the identities we wear like costumes in our lives. The dancers alternately don and doff costume layers, facial coverings and accessories including large balloon breasts and bunny ears. “The bunny image goes back to watching Bugs Bunny as a kid,” Stamos says. “He was an early example of a character that played with costume and disguise, changing his identity in different moments to avoid Elmer Fudd. There’s also a reference to the Playboy Bunny as an example of a gender icon, a traditionally held idea of what is considered sexy.” Stamos’ mother passed away unexpectedly late last year, which had a strong influence on his process of developing the piece. “Losing your mother has such a big impact on your sense of self,” he says. Stamos grew up in Nova Scotia, spending some time on the streets during his teenage years. At eighteen, he headed to Toronto to pursue dance training but ended up at the School for New Dance Development in Amsterdam, by way of London. After some time in New York, he settled in Montréal, where he has been able to focus solely on dance for the past fifteen years.

Chorégraphe établi à Montréal, George Stamos parle de sa nouvelle création, Cloak, un duo sur les identités que nous revêtons tels des costumes au cours d’une vie. Les interprètes portent tour à tour des costumes, des couvre-visage et des accessoires, y compris de grands seins-ballons et des oreilles de lapin. « L’image du lapin me vient de mon souvenir d’enfant de Bugs Bunny, » dit Stamos. « C’est un de mes premiers exemples d’un personnage qui joue avec le costume et le déguisement, changeant son identité à différents moments pour éviter Elmer Fudd. Il y a aussi une référence au lapin Playboy comme exemple de symbole sexuel, une perception traditionnelle de ce qui est sexy. » La mère de Stamos est décédée subitement à la fin de l’année passée, et cela a une grande influence sur son processus de création. « Perdre sa mère a un impact énorme sur notre perception de soi, » dit-il. Stamos grandit en Nouvelle-Écosse et vit dans la rue pendant un certain temps à l’adolescence. À dix-huit ans, il part vers Toronto pour se former comme danseur mais se trouve finalement à la School for New Dance Develpoment à Amsterdam, via Londres. Après quelque temps à New York, il s’installe à Montréal, où il œuvre uniquement en danse depuis les quinze dernières années.

Learn more | Pour en savoir plus >> www.thedancecurrent.com

Read the full article by Chris Dupuis in the October 2010 issue of The Dance Current print magazine. | Lisez l'article intégral de Chris Dupuis dans l’édition imprimée de octobre 2010 du Dance Current.

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Les options de formation postsecondaire
De Katharine Harris de l’École nationale de ballet du Canada
Traduction de Marie Claire Forté

Comme professeur de danse, vous tissez souvent des liens étroits avec vos élèves, surtout ceux qui étudient avec vous année après année. S’orienter vers une carrière en danse pour l’élève qui termine ses études au secondaire peut poser un défi. Outillez-le avec toute l’information sur les occasions qui se présentent à lui ; c’est la meilleure façon de l’aider à faire un choix éclairé.

Peu importe le parcours que l’élève choisit, une recherche sur les options s’impose. S’il veut cheminer vers une carrière professionnelle en danse, il peut choisir entre un baccalauréat en beaux-arts dans une université, un certificat ou diplôme d’un collège, ou une formation dans un conservatoire ou une école de formation professionnelle. Encouragez l’élève à choisir la formation qui correspond à sa personnalité, ainsi qu’à ses objectifs professionnels et personnels. En consultant les sites Web des écoles, il peut voir s’il connaît des professeurs ou des diplômés de l’institution. Parfois, une école présente des exemples de leur style et de leur niveau sur YouTube.

Il y a d’importantes distinctions à faire en considérant l’université, le collège et le programme de formation professionnelle. Souvent, l’université propose moins de temps en studio mais une étude approfondit de la danse, avec des cours de théorie, d’histoire et souvent de pédagogie, ainsi que d’autres sujets artistiques et universitaires. Au Canada, les universités Simon Fraser, Calgary, York, Ryerson et l’UQÀM ont tous des programmes en danse. Le collège (ou le cégep, au Québec) mélange souvent pratique et théorie. Quelques collèges, comme George Brown et Sheridan, offrent un programme « triple threat », qui amène les élèves à étudier le théâtre et le chant ainsi que la danse. Le conservatoire et l’école de formation professionnelle misent plus sur le temps en studio ; l’accès à d’autres champs d’études est restreint. Des exemples sont : LADMMI : L’école de danse contemporaine, The School of Dance à Ottawa, la School of Toronto Dance Theatre, Modus Operandi à Vancouver et la School of Contemporary Dancers à Winnipeg.

En fin de compte, lorsque vous encouragez un élève à s’engager davantage dans la danse, assurez-vous qu’il sait que le métier du danseur professionnel n’est pas facile. Le statut de pigiste et la carrière parallèle sont des réalités courantes de la profession et le danseur a besoin de compétences en promotion, en comptabilité et en rédaction.

Cela peut être bouleversant pour un élève de quitter le confort du studio dans lequel il a grandi. Outre votre soutien, voici quelques excellentes ressources pour aider celui qui fait la transition entre être élève et danseur préprofessionnel.

Artsvivants.ca a un article pertinent sur les choix de formation postsecondaire en danse, y compris de l’information sur les carrières liées à la danse comme la régie, la conception d’éclairage, l’administration des arts et la thérapie par la danse : www.artsalive.ca/fr/

Le Centre de ressources et transition pour danseurs (CRTD) a un siège social à Toronto ainsi que plusieurs bureaux régionaux. L’organisme vise à aider le danseur à mieux vivre les diverses transitions liées à son cheminement artistique, en début de carrière, en milieu de carrière ou en période de retraite. Le colloque annuel danse TRANSIT s’adresse au danseur de la relève, en début de carrière professionnelle et se tient à Vancouver, à Calgary, à Winnipeg, à Toronto, à Montréal et à Halifax. Consultez le site Web du CRTD pour les dates du colloque en 2011 : www.dtrc.ca

Le guide annuel des collèges de Dance Magazine est une excellente ressource en anglais pour de l’information de base et des sites Web d’une variété de programmes, surtout aux États-Unis : www.dancemagazine.com/thecollegeguide/intro

Post-Secondary Options for Older Students
By Katharine Harris of Canada’s National Ballet School

As a dance teacher you often form close bonds with your students, especially those who study with you year after year. When your students reach high school graduation, choosing the next step in their dance career can be challenging. Arming your students with information about the wide variety of choices available is the best thing you can do to assist them in making their decision.

Regardless of the direction your students take, research is key. Assuming they wish to pursue dance as a professional career, they may choose between studying for a Bachelor of Fine Arts at a university, studying for a degree or diploma at a college, or pursuing training with a conservatory or professional school. Encourage your students to select the educational path best suited to their personality, and their future career and life goals. Checking school and institution websites allows students to see if the names of faculty are familiar or if there are alumni with whom they are connected. Examples of a school’s style of dance and performance level are sometimes also posted on YouTube.

When choosing between university, college or professional training, it’s important to have a sense of the basic differences between them. Universities often offer less time in studio, but a more in-depth study of dance, with courses in theory and history and often pedagogy, as well as other arts and academic subjects. In Canada, Simon Fraser University, the University of Calgary, York, Ryerson and Concordia Universities and the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQÀM) all offer dance degrees. College programs (or cégep if you’re in Québec) often blend the practical and theoretical. Some colleges, such as George Brown and Sheridan, offer “triple threat” programs in which students study not only dancing but also acting and singing. Conservatory or professional programs usually offer more hours in studio, but less access to broader academic study. Examples include LADMMI: L’école de danse contemporaine, The School of Dance in Ottawa, School of Toronto Dance Theatre, Modus Operandi in Vancouver, the School of Contemporary Dancers in Winnipeg, and many more.

Finally, when encouraging your students to take their love of dance to the next level, be sure they’re aware that being a professional dancer is not easy. The future they face is one where self-employment is likely, a parallel career is a common reality and they will require skills such as marketing, budgeting and writing.

When your students move out of the comfort of the dance studio they’ve grown up in, it can be a shock to the system. Beyond your support, here are a few great resources to help dancers as they transition from student to pre-professional.

Arts Alive has a helpful article on post-secondary choices in dance, including information on careers that are dance-related, such as stage management, lighting design, arts administration and dance therapy: www.artsalive.ca

The Dancer Transition Resource Centre, headquartered in Toronto with several regional offices, is designed to help dancers transition into, within and out of the professional realm. The annual On the Move conference is aimed specifically at young dancers transitioning into the professional world. It takes place in Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montréal and Halifax. Check the DTRC website for 2011 dates: www.dtrc.ca

Dance Magazine’s annual college guide is a great resource for basic information and websites for a variety of programs primarily in the United States: www.dancemagazine.com/thecollegeguide/intro

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HEALTHY DANCER: Reconsidering Red Meat

By Nathan Payne

Growing evidence suggests that not all red meat is created equal. A mounting body of research reveals the benefits of traditional pasture-raised animals, versus confinement-based, grain-fed ones. From a nutritional perspective, the meat from pasture-raised cattle is lower in total fat and also typically has higher levels of conjugated linoleic acids (CLA), Omega-3 Fatty Acids (ALA and sometimes higher EPA and DHA), along with higher levels of vitamins and antioxidants. CLA is an unsaturated fatty acid that is suspected to protect the heart, provide anticancer benefits and enhance our immune system.

The next time you are shopping for meat, consider beef from pasture-raised cattle as a healthier and more ethical alternative to meat from cattle confined on feedlots and provided a grain-based diet. And try this recipe for a tasty meal including red meat.

Garlic and Rosemary Crusted Ontario Sirloin Steak
With sweet potato coins, steamed broccoli and a grilled corn and roasted pepper salsa
Recipe by Chef Matthew Kennedy


1 ea 6 oz Ontario sirloin steak*
1 ea garlic clove
2 sprig rosemary
Grape seed oil

1 ea sweet potato
1 bu chives – finely sliced
1 cup broccoli florets

1 ea corn on the cob
1 ea red bell pepper
1 ea shallot
2 sprig parsley
1 ea lime
Extra virgin olive oil

Roasted ground black pepper**


● Sirloin Marinade: Wash and pick the leaves from the rosemary, and keep the stems for later. With a French knife finely chop the rosemary and garlic clove and place it in a small bowl. Add and mix in grape seed oil to cover.
● Using a piece of paper towel or a kitchen towel, dry beef sirloin. Rub a generous amount of Sirloin Marinade onto all sides of the beef. Place in the fridge overnight, in an airtight container or use it right away.
● Corn Salsa: In a cast iron griddle pan or on a barbeque grill the corn on all sides, slice off kernels and place in a small mixing bowl. Slice the flesh of the pepper off in 4 pieces and grill skin side down until skins are burnt. To remove the skins place the hot peppers in an airtight container for 10 minutes. Remove lid and the peels slide right off. Slice the peppers into ¼ inch squares and add to corn. Dice shallots and coarsely chop parsley, add to pepper/corn mixture. Slice the lime in half and squeeze until desired bite is achieved. Season with salt and pepper and a splash of extra virgin olive oil.
● Wash and peel sweet potato. Slice the potato into ½ inch rounds and place in a medium stainless steel saucepan. Cover with cold water and apply high heat. When the water comes to a simmer turn the temperature down to maintain the simmer and season with salt. Cook until fork tender, carefully drain off water and cover to keep hot.
● Season the sirloin steak with salt and black pepper on both sides. Using a heavy bottomed pan heat 2 tsp grape seed oil to the smoke point (when the oil just starts to smoke gently) and carefully place the sirloin in the pan with the rosemary stems. Cook beef on both sides until dark golden brown and reduce heat to finish to desired internal temperature. Discard rosemary stems.
● Steam broccoli florets in a small stainless steel saucepan until tender. Strain and place broccoli on top of sweet potato and cover to keep hot.
● Plating: shingle sweet potato rounds in centre of plate. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sliced chives. Scatter broccoli florets around plate. Slice sirloin into 3-5 pieces and fan on top of sweet potato. Spoon generous amount of salsa over beef and garnish with olive oil.

*Sirloin steak is commonly available in most grocery stores. Top sirloin will cost you a little more than bottom sirloin, but both are great, lean and if treated properly, tender cuts of beef.

**Tip; buy whole peppercorns and sauté in a stainless steel sauté pan over medium-high heat for 3-6 minutes or until crackling and intensely aromatic. Cool before grinding.

Matthew Kennedy walks the walk towards a more balanced model of urban/rural and chef/farmer relations. A graduate of the New England Culinary Institute, Kennedy also completed extended internships in Toronto and France. Matthew has consulted with restaurants around Lawrence Park and has developed food education workshops with the Toronto Green Community.

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