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Interviews, essays and commentary published by The Dance Current.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010



Interview by Megan Andrews
Photos by Jeremy Mimnagh

Susanna Hood / Photo by Jeremy Mimnagh

Artistic director of her Toronto-based interdisciplinary performance company, hum, Susanna Hood is a choreographer, performer, director and teacher working at the intersection of dance and sound. Her collaborative projects as well as her own choreography and music compositions have been presented throughout Toronto, nationally, and internationally on stage and in film since 1991. She is the recipient of various awards including the 1998 K.M. Hunter Emerging Artists Award in Dance, the 2006 Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Performance in Dance for her solo show She’s gone away and, most recently, the 2008 Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award for Outstanding Achievement in Dance.

In your artistic statement in the May 2010 print issue you state: “My passion lies in using the body to express its most intimate experience of emotion in movement and sound.” What have you come to understand about this experience through your work?

Our bodies speak in many ways, and who we are at our most basic and primordial level lives in our cells. I don’t fully understand it, but there is something about moving and sounding combined that has the potential to bring a very pure version of that intimate, unadulterated self out to play. It’s unwieldy and volatile and extremely direct. Engaging in this way keeps the human, in all its nuanced subtlety, in the room as we work. It’s this vibration that I learn to interpret during the course of a process, and the better I get at understanding it, the more the work speaks to me and tells me what is necessary.

Susanna Hood / Photo by Jeremy Mimnagh

In your artistic statement, you talk about your interest in exploring and revealing new processes and explorations in dance, music/sound and the interplay between the two. You say: “This kind of hybrid work by its very nature forces both creators and viewers to question and investigate their points of view.” What, for you, is the significance of this questioning?

It’s very important to me that the needs of the work, as opposed to my personal needs, come first and foremost. Sometimes that line is a bit blurry, especially at the beginning of a process. But eventually, the work has a life of its own that demands fulfillment, and it’s my job, with my collaborators, to discover what’s necessary and to meet those needs. In that regard, we often need to create ways of working and develop tools that are perhaps new to us, and maybe even challenge what we thought we knew. I believe that this is how we grow, both in the studio and in life in general.

Alanna Kraaijeveld and Dan Wild / Photo by Jeremy Mimnagh

Having worked extensively on self-solo material, I wonder how you select performers for group pieces. What do you look for in the dance artists you choose to work with?

Working with other interpreters is relatively new for me, so I am still discovering all the desirable and necessary traits for a fruitful collaboration. Certainly, the ability to work collaboratively and to fully engage one’s own imagination is essential, especially as improvisation is a large part of the initial stages of my process. I prize maturity and complexity in a performer, but above all, an open mind and a hungry fearlessness to push one’s own boundaries and to work deeply and intimately. These are all things that I demand equally of myself, expecting not perfection but a rigour of intent. Because of the vocabulary I use, a strong background in movement and vocal work are assets, though vocal training is part of the process itself. And seeing that the work I’m making increasingly encompasses narrative, some experience in theatre or willingness to engage in a theatrical approach is useful. I like people to be themselves. It is the individuals in the room and what they bring to the work that inspires me. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the performers who have contributed to the making of Shudder, most especially Alanna and Dan.

Susanna Hood, Dan Wild and Alanna Kraaijeveld / Photo by Jeremy Mimnagh

You have expressed your belief in the value of long-term investment in a work, and have completed at least two residencies for this project, which has been several years in the making. In each of your residencies, first at Montréal Danse and then at Le Groupe Dance Lab in Ottawa, what were the primary questions or discoveries you made that moved you forward in your process?

A long-term process for an artist/company of limited financial means – like myself and hum – means working through a sporadic number of intensive studio periods. For this reason, almost every phase of this work has felt like a residency, whether or not I was a guest at another institution. And for that reason, each time I returned to the studio, I had a specific intention, if not a specific goal, and the results of this focus informed the next phase of work. Particular to the residencies at both Montréal Danse and Le Groupe were first, that I was working with a different number of performers (in Montréal, two, and in Ottawa, six), who wouldn’t be part of the finished work (although Alanna and Dan accompanied me to Le Groupe), and second, that I was completely on the outside and not working as an interpreter. There were many discoveries made in both of these periods, but the one significant and common thread was how integral my external visual, aural and emotional perceptions were to the completion of the work. I already had a strong and wordless connection to the material, and having to find a way to transmit that relatively quickly to a new batch of people helped me to articulate what was most important as well as to find efficient ways of bringing people where I needed them to go. This experience also influenced my choice to continue the process with someone doubling my role: Lori Duncan, Jessica Runge and finally Maryse Carrier. Despite that fact that I have resumed my role as performer, all three of these women have positively informed the creation of the work as a whole and my role in particular.

Alanna Kraaijeveld and Dan Wild / Photo by Jeremy Mimnagh

You recently described your creative process to me on the phone, noting that you start from an impulse/catalyst, create a field for your process and then create material in that field. Through this work, you discover your subject and then serve the needs of that subject once it makes itself known. How did this transpire with Shudder? What drew you to the paintings of the twentieth-century artist Francis Bacon, and how has that catalyst driven or shaped your process?

I had known Bacon’s work and been drawn to it for a long time. In the summer of 2007, near the end of short sabbatical where I’d kept a distance from all art-making and art-viewing, I attended an exhibit of his work from the 1950s and 1960s at the Albright Knox Museum in Buffalo. The combination of being in such a fallow and ready state and seeing so much of his work at one time was catalytic. It’s precisely the extremity for which he is known that resonated with me. My own guts twisted in response to the violence rendered on the flesh, as though the images had reached under my skin. In his work, I recognized something of myself, my work and my desire to communicate in such a direct sensorial way with my audience. So this meeting felt like a call to action on my part. Certainly, the imagery, contortion, blurring, obscuring, and the play with grotesque facial expressions, bodily postures, and the sounds derived from inhabiting those states were all starting points for creating our field of play. But I also took a lot of inspiration from reading about Bacon, most significantly through David Sylvester’s collected interviews. What Bacon had to say about aspects of his own process inspired, affirmed and even challenged some of my choices. The biggest challenge for me has been to keep the tension between narrative and abstraction alive, where Bacon was explicitly uninterested in narrative in his own work and had little respect for abstract painting.

Maryse Carrier, Dan Wild and Alanna Kraaijeveld / Photo by Jeremy Mimnagh

In philosopher Gilles Deleuze’s book Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation (1981), he discusses Bacon’s work as functioning at the level of bodily sensation, acting directly on the nervous system of the spectator, versus working at the level of representation and being understood through cognitive processes. Does this idea of a bodily connection resonate for you?

I’ve touched on this above, but certainly this bodily connection – my and my interpreters’ bodies and whole selves communicating directly with the bodies and whole selves of our audience – is precisely what I strive for in my work. And it is something that I recognized in my experience of Bacon’s work. It made the choice to pursue a response to his work an organic rather than a logical thing. It felt like coming home. It’s what I seek as a member of the public as well, and why I am so fond of other artists such as Louise Bourgeois and Philip Guston. They feel like family to me.

Susanna Hood (hum dansoundart) presents Shudder from April 29th through May 9th at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, Toronto.

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Gradimir Pankov: On Choreographers, Dancers and Life Before Les Grands

By Philip Szporer

It’s a brutal, bone-chilling, windy Montréal afternoon. As a gust literally blows me indoors, Gradimir Pankov, artistic director of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal (Les Grands), greets me with a friendly smile and open arms. Pankov has a reputation for being straightforward and charming, and no doubt those well-honed skills have served him in his significant and defining run at the job. After we settle in, he exudes both warmth and insecurity about what he might say regarding his ten years at the helm of the storied and revered ballet company founded in 1957 by Ludmilla Chiriaeff. Asked what specific character trait it takes to be artistic director of the troupe, he measures his response. “You have to have the desire to bring people together,” he replies.

Editor’s Note: In The Dance Current May 2010 print magazine, we published a profile of Gradimir Pankov, artistic director of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, by Philip Szporer. Szporer’s lengthy interview with Pankov included discussions of Pankov’s experiences in Europe before coming to Canada, his perspectives on working with choreographers and introducing new work to audiences, as well as his views on dancers’ training and development. We decided to publish this additional material below, to give readers a deeper acquaintance with the charming and thoughtful artistic director of one of Canada’s longstanding ballet companies. The seventy-two-year-old Pankov has been with Les Grands now for ten years. According to Szporer: “Sources close to the company tell me Pankov has been asked to stay for the next five years, at least. And [Pankov] says, modestly, when asked the question directly, ‘If I’m healthy, it’s my biggest pleasure to work.’”

Before Les Grands
When asked for a glimpse at the real Gradimir, he says, “I always say I’m a country boy.” Dance first made an impression on him when he attended a performance in his native Skopia by the American Ballet Theatre, with Erik Bruhn in a 1955 production of Les Sylphides. “It was beautiful. Poetry and movement made me passionate about dance.”

A regional swimming champion in his youth, Pankov quickly decided to pursue training in Russian-styled classical dance, music and dance pedagogy at the Skopia Conservatory. A year later, at age eighteen, he joined the Macedonian National Ballet. By 1967, he was dancing in Germany, at the Nuremberg Ballet as well as Karlsruhe and Wuppertal, and the Theater am Gärtnerplatz in Munich and Nationaltheater Mannheim.

When, at age forty, his dancing life ended due to an injury, he became ballet master and associate director of Ballet of Dortmund Municipal Theatre. In 1980, Czech-born choreographer Jirí Kylián invited him to join Nederlands Dans Theater both as a teacher and as artistic director of what was about to become NDT II, the company’s junior dance troupe. While there, his meeting with Mats Ek, then artistic director of the Cullberg Ballet, developed into a long-standing professional and personal relationship.

From 1981 through 1984, Pankov directed the National Ballet of Finland in Helsinki. Ek, after seeing his work in Helsinki, then offered Pankov the artistic leadership at the Cullberg. He was also asked to teach and direct Ek choreographies to other companies, including Cain and Abel at Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève, where he eventually took the reins as artistic director. It was in Geneva that Pankov forged other significant relationships: he invited Kylián, Ek and Christopher Bruce to create work and commissioned dances from a new generation of choreographers, including Ohad Naharin and Kim Brandstrup. He also organized choreography workshops, where innovation would flourish, and Genève dancers Didy Veldman and Stijn Celis were introduced to the world of choreography.

In 1996, Pankov left the Ballet de Genève, devoting himself to teaching for various companies, eventually moving to American Ballet Theatre in New York. Though he was happy to settle into a calmer routine, when Les Grands came calling, it was the city and the company’s eclecticism that lured him.

On Choreographers
In his own view, Pankov has been “very careful” in nurturing how a choreographer’s work will look on Les Grands. He says he “didn’t dare” program Ek’s far from ethereal Sleeping Beauty without preparing audiences first with other works by the Swedish choreographer: Solo for Two (a lyrical melancholy love duet to the music of Arvo Pärt), and Appartement (a surrealist ballet that employs everyday items like a vacuum cleaner, a television and a bidet).

When Pankov recruits a Veldman or a Celis, two choreographers whom he’s groomed at Les Grands, he says, “We support and develop talent, and see those relationships through the long-term.” Case in point, Veldman’s first work for the company, Carmen. Pankov talks about his method of introducing new talent and new ways of moving to the company’s audiences. “It was a teaser – to give [the public] the title and the familiar music, but introduce contemporary steps, make it relevant and find the bridge from the classics to a new theatrical dance.” The compelling and acclaimed Noces, Celis’ first piece for the company is a certified hit, “always showing with a better result,” Pankov reports.

Choreographer Peter Quanz, the young talent who is gaining major recognition internationally and premiered Kaleidoscope, his first work for the company, last season, bows to Pankov’s instincts. “On my first day of rehearsal with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Gradimir called me to his office and clearly told me how he expected his ensemble of dancers to be treated. He stated that they were tuned to understand and explore what any choreographer might ask of them and that a light approach was sufficient for great results. He was right and he subtly showed me his love for his dancers.”

Quanz says it was “a genuine pleasure to work for Gradimir and to serve his creative ensemble. He was frequently present in rehearsals and listened carefully to my ideas before going on to enrich what was already planted. In challenging moments, Gradimir listened like a wise father and then proved to be a solid support.” Quanz counts himself “fortunate” to have worked with Pankov. “He has a rich knowledge of diverse choreographic traditions and can reveal parallels and distinctions between them, yet his mind is open to finding something new and young in the tradition of ballet or in the most recent movement idiom.”

On Dancers
Over the years, the seventy-two-year-old Pankov has learned how to gauge “quality, attitude and behaviour” on the part of the company dancers. His corps de ballet is generally brimming with talent. Dropping names, he mentions the glorious Mariko Kida (now with the Cullberg Ballet). “She started here, dancing a beautiful Juliet in [Maillot’s] Romeo and Juliet,” he says. He’s currently cherishing some gems in his ranks, including corps de ballet member and Guangzhou Ballet–trained dancer Xuan Cheng, who has performed with La La La Human Steps. Pankov waves his arms, and remarks, “People say, ‘why not give her a better contract?’ Well, I insist they start with the corps. You develop an ability to cope. This I learned in the theatre, through the good, and bad, behaviour of colleagues.”

Directorial shifts are never easy. Difficult is just one word to describe the atmosphere when a director leaves, and the new appointee arrives contemplating how to give another push to the company. When Pankov came to Les Grands, replacing Lawrence Rhodes (currently head of the Juilliard School’s dance division), the company was a very different place: with beloved dancers such as Anik Bissonnette, who stayed with the company for seventeen years, and Geneviève Guérard among others, as marquee names and personalities. Pankov remembers the challenges of the time. “[There were] so many injuries, and [I had] to replace [star performers] with members of the corps de ballet. And the [young dancers] mixed in so well, and I was not cancelling performances.” A belief of the company ever since: any dancer can rise in the ranks regardless of their hired position.

Now, a new generation of dancers graces the stage. (The company currently employs thirty-four dancers.) “I try to have different personalities,” Pankov says, explaining that he takes into account “how they look, how they behave. Some are very lyrical, some I call ‘anti-dance’, but they all have beautiful personalities on stage.” And he’s rigorous with them, starting with their daily routine. “Professional dancers need some twenty minutes before class to do warm-up,” he comments, and he insists on giving classes. “It gives me a big chance to know them, to [see] how they react to my corrections.”

What he looks for in a dancer is simple: “Dancers, like actors, can put every and any skin on their body.” At the time of the fiftieth anniversary celebrations, demi-soloist Alisia Pobega told me, “Gradimir keeps us in check … He looks for the versatile dancer, because the repertoire is so vast. Fundamentally what’s required is to be quite strong with a classical base, but open enough in spirit to embrace all kinds of dance.” Pankov, almost in response, says of a dancer’s physique, “If you don’t have lines, you can’t break them. If you are broken, there is nothing more to break.”

Ella Baff, executive director of the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, has been influential in opening doors for Les Grands on the world stage. She appreciates the versatility of the company. “They have all the attributes of a first-rank international company: strong dancers who can handle a wide range of repertoire, not just technically of course, but with integrity and personality.”

Pankov insists that what he delivers is “not about classical or contemporary repertory. People like to see and appreciate good performance.” Credit his age and experience, perhaps. Regardless, Pankov’s gambit is working.

TAG: Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal presents Stijn Celis’ Le sacre du printemps and a Jirí Kylián double bill at the upcoming Venice Biennale festival from May 27th through 29th, Venice.

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ASTUCES POUR PROFESSEURS: Le stage d’été : oui ou non ?

De Katharine Harris de l’École nationale de ballet du Canada
Traduction de Marie Claire Forté

De plus en plus de studios offrent des stages d’été. Il y a parfois l’embarras du choix pour l’enseignant qui conseille un élève et ses parents. Considérez les questions suivantes : le stage d’été est-il une bonne option pour l’élève, celui-ci peut-il atteindre un de ses objectifs en y participant et, avant tout, quel programme lui convient?

Comme professeur de danse, vous voulez peut-être participer vous-même à un stage ! Il se peut que votre charge de travail dans un studio soit exigeante. Si vous enseignez plusieurs classes par semaine dans un même style à un même niveau, vous courrez le risque de manquer d’inspiration. Cela entraîne facilement un manque de concentration de la part de vos élèves et une baisse d’énergie dans vos classes. Un stage pour professeurs peut vous rassasier. Renouez avec votre passion pour l’enseignement en redevenant élève. Profitez-en pour mettre à jour vos compétences et connaissances, et discutez avec des pairs qui comprennent les défis de la profession. Certains professeurs se sentent coupables de ne pas enseigner pour une brève période afin de suivre des cours. Cela ne tient pas ! Souvenez-vous que tous – élèves, parents et autres professeurs au studio – en profitent lorsque vous ranimez votre envie d’enseigner.

Des questions semblables se posent pour l’élève et les stages d’été. Pense-t-il tirer profit d’une courte période intensive de classes et de répétitions ? L’élève qui vise à s’améliorer et à se renforcer devrait penser à s’inscrire à un stage d’été dans une autre forme de danse. Pour l’élève qui étudie plusieurs styles, du jazz au Bollywood, du moderne au ballet, une période intensive de deux semaines axée sur les bases du ballet peut l’aider dans tous les styles. Pour l’élève déjà engagé dans l’étude d’une forme particulière comme la danse moderne, un programme d’été dans un autre studio avec des professeurs et une technique différente peut relever ses forces et ses faiblesses. L’élève qui s’expose à des professeurs d’autres studios et à d’autres formes se prépare bien pour ses spectacles et sa carrière.

Le plaisir de danser doit primer. L’occasion pour l’élève d’apprendre avec différents professeurs, de faire l’expérience d’une nouvelle technique et de rencontrer de nouvelles personnes peut l’aider à comprendre ce qu’il cherche dans une classe de danse. Il cherche peut-être vous et votre studio !

Servez-vous du stage d’été pour élargir vos horizons et revitaliser votre intérêt pour l’enseignement. Encouragez vos élèves à faire de même, et à suivre des classes avec autant de différents professeurs que possible.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010



Interview by Megan Andrews
Photos by Bettina Hoffman

Ame Henderson / Photo by Bettina Hoffman

Ame Henderson lives and works in Toronto where she is the artistic director of Public Recordings. Her works Blue**Disco (2002), memories and statements (2004), Manual for Incidence (2005), /Dance/Songs/ (2006), Open Field Study (all together now) (Nuit Blanche, 2007) and It was a nice party (Dancemakers, 2008) have been presented in The Netherlands, Italy, Croatia and across Canada. The Most Together We’ve Ever Been, a duet with Matija Ferlin, premiered in July 2009 at INK (Pula, Croatia), appeared at Tangente (Montréal) in October 2009 and at Dancemakers’ TWOBYTHREE – a festival of duets in February 2010.

You say that you are paradoxically at times elated and also despondent with the way things are in the world. What particular issues draw your attention or emotion? Specifically, since we often tend to dwell on the negative, what makes you feel elated?

It is so easy to become discouraged with the state of things in the world. The environment is under duress, we witness poverty and injustice, corruption and the seemingly unending hold of consumerism and individualism taken to such extremes they feel irreversible. I wonder about art and its ability to resist; I find myself questioning its relevance as a space for resistance and hopeful dissent. These are things that make it difficult to stay upbeat.

And so, I try to focus on the small discoveries of an art practice that does not follow the rules of efficiency, that mostly remembers to take its time, that makes mistakes, and is often absurd and hilarious and tragic for these reasons. Together with others, I work on dances and performance situations for them, trying to believe that in some small way these attempts can make a space not so much away from but just beside all of the looming unknowns and fears of irrelevance. Sharing these processes with artists who are both my friends and my most trusted critics, I am often shaken by people’s generosity of spirit, by their ability to risk and to question, by their humility and humour.

Claudia Fancello, Marie Claire Forté, Chad Dembski, Brendan Jensen, Mairéad Filgate and Barbara Pallomina in rehearsal for relay / Photo by Bettina Hoffman

You note that you construct a laboratory in the studio that is “influenced by the accumulated histories, thoughts and strategies of a group of individuals”. I know that you spend a good deal of time in your process discussing ideas with your collaborators, sitting around a big table full of books and notes. So I can see that these influences come to bear through such conversations. Do you also feel that these influences show up in other non-verbal ways and if so, how? I’m interested in your perspectives and experiences of the intangible dynamics that percolate among a group in a creative process.

Yes. We all arrive into these working situations as ourselves and bring to them all of our knowledge and experience, desires, blind spots. This diversity of perspective is embodied as much as it is theoretical or anecdotal. People have had different work experience, training and history of injury. In working together, these traces are brought to bear on what we make, contributing to the dynamics of exchange and complicity. For me, moving from distinct positions toward each other is as much a physical creative process as a theoretical one. Therefore the movement between spaces of exchange (the table, the studio, the theatre) is important, each space allowing us to articulate our positions and move toward each other in different ways.

Katie Ewald, Chad Dembski, Marie Claire Forté, Brendan Jensen, Claudia Fancello, Barbara Pallomina and Mairéad Filgate in rehearsal for relay / Photo by Bettina Hoffman

I’m interested in your thoughts about the ability of the body to reveal and transform societal structures. Several cultural theorists have taken up these considerations in various ways and I wonder if your thinking is informed by or in argument with any specific theoretical writing about the body? If so, who/what are you reading and how do you situate your work in relation to their ideas?

These days, I am probably most influenced by recent writings by Deleuzian thinkers including Brian Massumi and Elizabeth Grosz as well as by political theorists Chantelle Mouffe and Julia Kristeva. My orientation toward the body and embodiment focusses on relationality and the processes of these exchanges as well as “the political” as a dynamic of relation.

Marie Claire Forté, Barbara Pallomina, Mairéad Filgate, Brendan Jensen, Katie Ewald, Claudia Fancello, Matija Ferlin in rehearsal for relay / Photo by Bettina Hoffman

Quoting you from your artistic statement in the April print issue of The Dance Current: “In staging these events, I hope to make the act of performance a site to imagine different arrangements and realities.” With respect to your belief that the body can both reveal and transform societal structures, in your performances, do you think you/your performers are in the act of actually transforming structures or in the act of proposing or imagining the possibility of transformation? (I guess I’m asking about your perspective on what you call the “interface of the theatre” and thus what you aim for in terms of a relationship with the public?

I think I am most concerned with creating spaces to hold a polyphony of perceptions – both for performers and audiences. I try to set up the circumstances where we can imagine, project, think or dream with and to the art object, the performance. By interface I mean both the apparatus that makes our work visible and also one that allows exchange between different perspectives – the viewer and the performer. I am not so sure about looking for something in particular, but only with noticing a space where something might happen.

Dancers in rehearsal for relay / Photo by Bettina Hoffman

Your collaborative team involves not only dancers but also dancer/actors, a composer and a dramaturge. How do the perspectives of artists from other disciplines inform your work? What do you learn about dance by looking at other forms? Can you give a specific example?

In a series of recent works (/Dance/Songs and It was a nice party) I have engaged with the codes of other mediums such as cinema and live music. I have found that this transduction has allowed me to address what is specific to dance, how it collides and departs with the rules of other forms. I feel similarly about the different perspectives brought by collaborators with backgrounds other than dance. We all have to decide together how the work belongs or relates to a dance tradition.

Jacob Zimmer (seated), Claudia Fancello, Marie Claire Forté, Barbara Pallomina, Brendan Jensen, Ame Henderson, Chad Dembski and Katie Ewald / Photo by Bettina Hoffman

In relay, and I think also in your duet with Matija Ferlin, The Most Together We’ve Ever Been, you are engaging with ideas of togetherness, individuality and the unison gesture. How did you arrive at this topical focus for your work? What politic underlies this concern/interest?

I have been working collaboratively for many years, at first almost by accident and now as a crucial through line of my practice. The investigation of collaboration and the necessity of agreement and discord in a creative process as a working dynamic have increasingly seeped into the artistic and conceptual frameworks for my projects. I can no longer make such a clear distinction between the ways we work and the artworks that we produce, and so I think the recent projects are a result of my interest in questioning the practice of making in general. At the same time, I feel strongly that finding ways to meet each other and to begin to find space for the perceptions of the other are vital to our contemporary situation. I feel a responsibility to address these conundrums in my work – to work things out, to talk things out, to find new modes within my medium – thinking that this might help.

Claudia Fancello, Ame Henderson and Katie Ewald / Photo by Bettina Hoffman

Based on your response above, I wonder if there are utopic/idealistic threads underpinning your explorations of togetherness and whether through this work you are expressing a hopeful perspective?

I think I have as many questions and scepticism about the possibility and danger of utopia as the next person. If there was such a thing, I would say that my work tries to ‘think utopically’, meaning that it privileges the space for possibility that things could get better, for hope (if you want to call it that) but situates this thinking as a dynamic that exists and is useful now – in real time, in the messy place we are actually in.

Claudia Fancello, Brendan Jensen and Mairéad Filgate / Photo by Bettina Hoffman

In your statement in the print magazine, you comment on your interest in the “the role of the dancer in the emerging dance archive”. I wonder what you mean by this? Further, what specific questions are you interested in posing about authorship and legacy?

I am curious about the ways that the body can be understood as a document while also being in the process of constantly documenting as it is also experiencing. Working with performers with histories of making and performing works, I’ve become increasing aware of the archival nature of memory – what the dancer remembers and how this is an often unrecognized site of a constantly emerging, shifting archive. In relay, the performance is structured as a mechanism that allows this embodied archive to become visible. Individual memories become a launching place for something shared. Relating this to other questions earlier in the interview, I would say that this work makes explicit the reality that none of us come from no place, that our perspectives and experience are consequent to the unfolding of the event. In this way, I hope that I am also positing questions about legacy and authorship. In choreography, unlike visual art, music and cinema for example, we don’t have a history of quoting, sampling and reconstruction practices – modes that I think both reconfirm and reconfigure the evolution of art practice.

Dancers in rehearsal for relay / Photo by Bettina Hoffman

Ame Henderson/Public Recordings presents relay from April 7th through 10th as part of Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage at the Enwave Theatre, Toronto. relay then appears at the Canada Dance Festival on June 12th at the National Arts Centre, Ottawa. The work was co-commissioned by the CanDance Network, Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis, Harbourfront Centre, L’Agora de la danse, The Vancouver East Cultural Centre and Canada Dance Festival. | Ame Henderson/Public Recordings présente relay du 7 au 10 avril dans le cadre de la série World Stage du Harbourfront Centre au théâtre Enwave, Toronto. La pièce est ensuite présentée au Festival Danse Canada le 12 juin au Centre National des Arts, Ottawa. relay est une commande du Réseau CanDanse, de Rencontres chorégraphiques internationales de Seine-Saint-Denis, de Harbourfront Centre, de l’Agora de la danse, du Vancouver East Cultural Centre et du Festival Danse Canada.

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Monday, April 5, 2010

HEALTHY DANCER: Sensational Oat Cookie

What influences your appetite?
By Nathan Payne, BASc, and M. Karin Ng, MHSc, RD

Satiation is defined as the sensation of fullness that develops during the progress of a meal, signaling the brain to stop eating. Palatability (taste), ripeness of fruit, particle size of food (apple sauce versus a whole apple), cooking methods, timing of meals, size and composition of meals (proteins, fats and carbohydrates, including fibre), and physiological differences such as one’s metabolism, can all impact a food’s satiating effect.

These petite, nutrient-dense treats are a great balance of fibre, protein and intense chocolate taste. Give them a try and see if they satisfy your appetite.


15-minute preparation time
20-minute bake time

3 cups oats
1 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup butter
1/4 cup baby food prune purée
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 cup flax meal or ground flax seeds
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
2 egg whites
1 & 1/2 cups sucanat (Cane sugar with naturally developed molasses)


Preheat oven to 225F. In a large bowl, mix dry ingredients together. Melt butter in saucepan over low heat. Increase heat to medium and add sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add milk, increase heat until mixture is boiling, stirring frequently. Boil mixture for 5 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and pour into dry mixture. Stir in prune purée. Whip egg whites until a light foam develops, and slowly fold into mixture. Take heaping teaspoons of the mixture to create small mounds on a non-stick cookie sheet. Bake at 225F for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool for 10 minutes.

Note: Try coating with melted dark chocolate once they have cooled and keep in the freezer until needed.

Editor’s Note: The authors would love to hear your feedback on this snack. Write to dc.editor@thedancecurrent.com with your response.

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