Mocean's annual choreographic lab CLEaR Forum, Photo by Kevin MacCormack

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Ice Hot Nordic Dance Platform

Susanne and I just returned from Reykjavik attending the Ice Hot Nordic Dance Platform.

It is so invigorating to be on the road together to see new work, take in new dance communities, and let our ideas flow about our own context, both for the company and the Halifax dance community that we are a part of.

Iceland had lots to offer us.  Her beauty is outstanding, even despite only having sunlight from 11am-3pm!  I definitely want to go back in the summer months to experience the landscape in the daylight and 24hrs of sun.  

The Nordic Dance Platform is a four day festival featuring artists and companies from Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway.  Iceland sits at the 65' parallel.. Nova Scotia sits at 45' parallel. Strangely enough, we were traveling during a winter heat wave and it was colder back in Halifax than in Iceland.
During the festival we met many new artists, producers, and presenters, eyeing new ways to open our networks in new ways and create new conversations for exchange and artistic development.  We also ran into old friends Paul Caskey and Andrew Tay from CCOV (Centre de Création O Vertigo) with Elise Vanderborght! Elise and I were star Canadian students and took part in every dance class that was offered over the festival.
Paul Caskey hiding in the Lave Fields of Iceland
Also in our traveling Canadian pack was Heidi Strauss (Adelheid) and Michelle Olsen (Raven Spirit Dance). The three of us were hosted by Canadian arts consultants Judy Harquail and Jim Smith. At the festival, with their help, we were able to do an informal presentation about our work and the company with four Nordic artists and a mix of Canadian and Nordic platform presenters. Later in the week we also took part in the official Meet the Canadians Party... which was a jammed pack house, complete with all the wine we could carry from every duty free location as we made our way north. It was a group Canadian effort to supply 25 bottles of wine for free flow schmoozing and networking.  

Diorama by Ingrid Fiksdal of Norway 

Time, Humour and Darkness....
The work we experienced really related to the sense of time and space that the Nordic landscape offers. Most of the work took place in a suspended time flow space, required patience from the audience and had a slow unfolding. Humour was also a strong influence in many of the works that we saw. In this context the humour was very cerebral, dry, or academic. Another common theme was how the rich history of  the 'dark and twisted Sagas from Iceland' embeds it's influences into the artistic psyches and art making practices of Iceland.

It is interesting to view new works outside of our own context to see what is the driving nature of making from this place and where our work sits in reference to this. On a whole it was a rich experience, however we were slightly disappointed in the lack of deep embodiment or that the physical self/body knowledge wasn't at the same level as the cerebral pulse driving most of the works.

Before I returned home I escaped to the wilderness and hiked the glacier mountain Esja. Here the land moved me. The sight of the mountains and the flow of the glacier waterfalls continually feed me artistically and as a humble human. Thank you Iceland.


Friday, 30 November 2018

Next Wave - a digital archive

For the past three weeks we have gathered as a collective to find new ground and question many things about the act of making, identity, and community. Sharing practice and the practice of sharing have been a common thread, the glue in our daily rituals and emergent forms. Sticky notes as a key organizing structure with a steady stream of chocolate and coffee surfaced as the shared comfort tool. Listening, propositioning, finding direction through many different compasses, pushing boundaries, the collective expansion of ideas, and challenging relational fields led us to confront vulnerability and gave us the courage and the will to follow the unknown together. Research is the act of posing a question and seeing what happens, conclusions are the attempt to find comfortable ground. Here the ground is unsteady, the research field is open and the desire to continue into the unknown, together is strong.

re·search       /ˈrēˌsərCH,rəˈsərCH/
1.   the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions. synonyms: investigation, experimentation, testing, analysis, fact-finding, fieldwork, examination, scrutiny
2.     investigate systematically

com·mu·ni·ty             /kəˈmyo͞onədē/
1.   a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
synonyms: group, body, set, circle, clique, faction

2.   a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.

e·mer·gent                 /əˈmərjənt/
in the process of coming into being or becoming prominent. synonyms: emerging, developing, rising, dawning, budding, embryonic, infant, fledgling, nascent, incipient, inchoate


Reflections from the process

It is very satisfying to do something tangible.
Everyday, every moment we are building and taking down walls together. We all have different walls. Sometimes it is the same wall.

Completion and self reliance is overrated.
I’m following, I’m leading. I’m 1/7 of an ever changing wall.
Suspending disbelief that nothing will be built.
Letting go of responsibility to build.
I am not alone.

Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity ... When we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise.   - Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

...A gentle soft smile falls across your face... The intimacy and depth of many ecological relational fields crossing is the dance... A room of women who hold space and take space is a beautiful thing...

being in the space is shared is shareable is not mine nor my story to tell, but together we push our bones across the pages and singularity that is our nature; under the waters are winter’s blemishes and fear of the raging furious singularity that is my story to tell.

Photos by Kevin MacCormack

Next Wave 2019 Participants: Susanne Chui, Sara Coffin, Jessica Lowe, Julie Robert, Liliona Quarmyne, Anastasia Wiebe, Lydia Zimmer

Next Wave is supported by the RBC Emerging Artist Project and the City of Halifax.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Our group content is found in the sediment of our cells

Vancouver artist, Lexi Vajda

Tools speaking, content forming.
Encroaching, circling, transmitting and a contagion.
Knitting and unraveling simultaneously with a logic expressing through three bodies.

The trap of the triangle eventually dissolves.
Effort, grounded, hands doing something real

A vocabulary in action with the action outcome unknown, a journey of discovery unfolds.

Pleasurable delights of synchronicity. Bulking, Poetic images of a work at play.

A base rhythm – trance and steady, surprises still present.

Huddle, Floor, Pull, Deepen

End of day sharing, Wednesday - Day 3 - S. Coffin

Monday, 14 May 2018


CLEaR Monday waking up to the bright, open, quiet grounds. fresh air, coffee. fresh mind.

notes from movement session:

inwards honing open body 
copycat into the movement, the body knows.
we are verbingmovingthinking
warm bodies spilling into and out of
spike pig walks
we sand the obstacles until round
playing this dance, patiently waiting in time
this is ross creek time
our distracted attention invites an enfolding world, it dances us
this, do we feel
the movement, the moment?
we try to smell the colours.
this belongs to us
autonomy of attention
vs. facebook 
Only150Characters, 150(+1) years since confederation 
the history of the land we practice on, the land we breathe here 
it's face topography
my funny cheeks joyful

we hope for a porcupine.

CLEaR Forum Arrivals - some traces

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Finding the Antidote

 How lucky are we?
As dancers, as artists, as humans to do something that feeds our soul everyday? 

To carry our canvas with us everyday making it always accessible. To have working bods, motor skills, and are overall well enough to get out of our bed and move. To have found the confidence and softness somewhere to realize that this is something that must be fled and pursued to make you feel whole (or something...). 

To have ultimately, above anything else, found the antidote. When I feel happy, I dance. When I feel sad, I dance. When I don't feel good about myself, I dance. When I feel a burst of confidence, I dance. When I don't feel anything at all, I dance. 

Visiting artist Rob Kitsos with 2017 EMERGE participants.

I was given the opportunity to participate in the 2017 "EMERGE" program and would like to take this opportunity to thank all involved. I feel I have gained two new sisters, two new mentors, and countless valuable lessons as a dancer, performer, human, and artist. I will take a little piece of this in my pocked everywhere I go. There aren't enough "thank you"-s in the whole wide world. 

~Joshua Moore 
Personal Reflection from Emerge Participant: Joshua Moore

Sunday, 16 April 2017

How Sensitive Are We?

How sensitive are we to the ways we move each day? This week in the studio with Emerge 2017, we dancers have been challenged by our choreographer to look intensely into the movement that we are making and the purpose behind it. Hands and eyes have seem to be drawn into the forefront of the main tools of expression and communication that I draw from throughout the work. I've noticed through this exploration how often we let the details and purpose of our articulation in space slide. 

Throughout these past two weeks there has been seven phrases of movement generated. Here is a look into the states and qualities that I have found myself in over this past week. 


My eyes are focused looking up to the body suspended above me. My peripheral vision is aware of the limbs in my sight line, moving to lower the body between our nestled bodies. My hands are soft and gooey awaiting for the gentle press of weight. My hands now strong and soft, creating a paradox as the body safely makes it to the floor.  

My eyes are flitting from point to point along the floor. My blinds are up as I'm in total concentration of figuring out the paths I must take. My hands are stiff as they firmly connect the destinations I am currently unaware of.  

My arms and hands are gnarled and twisted, much like old trees and branches sticking out every which way. I am stiff and tense standing tall as my eyes stare at the horizon.  

I am finding the similar patterns that I coast through daily, often boring and monotonous. My hands are finding the familiar routines. My eyes are easily distracted as my mind wanders to the next item on my to do list. 

My focus is wide as I am acutely aware with the people I am sharing the space with. I am waiting and ready as their actions propel my body into a responsive action.  

I am standing, fist point towards the sky, strong and triumphant as my gaze finds the eyes in front of me.   

My focus is lost as my body races the one's beside me. Bouncing from place to place as my body rolls and twists along the floor. My hands are quick and nimble as they maneuver my body and limbs through space

-Jessica Lowe
Emerge 2017 Dancer