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

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Engineers and Architects

The world of contemporary dance is a beautiful open field, where wild flowers grow and the wind can take your breath away.  This is what I love about contemporary art, you can feel the visceral, see the physical and contemplate the intellectual all in one breath, and for the audience you get the same all in one ticket price.

We have experienced that open field this past week with Tedd and it was especially poignant on Day 5 when Tedd described:
"you have to be an engineer and an architect all at the same time
The truth of these words play in my thoughts, even as I sit and write with my morning coffee. If I think about the past week the dancers have transformed into many things, even beyond the scope of the engineer and architect. 

Friday morning the cast flew across the studio floor creating a flurry of wind, like a gale rushing across the open water. The effects of their actions go unnoticed by the performers, because they are busy subdividing like accountants on a mean deadline.

In the afternoon, Rhonda left to get ready for her show with Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie,  (super rad performance by the way), while Ruth-Ellen, Jacinte and Susanne worked as individuals, creating in whole, a smooth and orderly construction of weight and time. Their inner engineer and architect filled the room with a thousand thoughts and images, all through the use of breath and pause. 

When the world premiere hits the stage with Live Art Dance Productions in January we will see it all: engineers, architects, the sculptor, painter, accountants, but this isn't interpretive dance. This is humanity set into motion.

Dancers Jactine Armstrong and Ruth-Ellen Kroll Jackson rehearse Mocean's new work in creation with Tedd Robinson.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

B'y she was packed in

Today was Day 3 in the studio with Tedd Robinson and it was a mighty productive day!

In the Kinesiology world DOMS or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness was starting to creep in for the the dancers but it was quickly replaced by the choreographic DOMS, =  Day of Many Sections.

The dancers flowed between gliding, balancing, impulsive and impactive gestures of the arms and the legs, emulating and integrating teddliards, teddlettes, timliares and their inner rocking MacIsaacs.

Working in Halifax, brings us closer to home than we expected, on Tuesday (Day 2) Ruth-Ellen, Jacinte, Susanne and Rhonda all pushed aside their inner ballerinas and found their inner step dancers.

The studio is filled with striking imagery, sculptural full-bodied pause, and kinetic firecrackers.  Although we hit that day three hump with saturated brains the dancers were able to push through with flying colours. Their focus and wild fire threw me to my feet with a little jig of joy for their incredible efforts and dancing!!

Monday, 14 November 2011

The Haligonian Welcome

Mocean Dance is back in the studio, as we continue our work with Tedd Robinson, resuming the new commission from our work in September at Lac Leslise, Quebec. 


Tedd arrives to Halifax for the two-week working period, welcomed by the the faint sounds of a celtic hum on CBC and the Barrington St. wind tunnel.  On our first day, we pull out our notes and bring the memory of our previous working session back to the surface.

Little books, twenty feet of thread and Mona Lisa's waiting to be painted, the dancers set out to make new creases in the cloth and feel their own wind as the new imprints are laid. We of course, experiment with gaffers tape -the tool of choice when in a pinch, and we are reminded that some things are better left unsaid.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Haute Couture and the Zen of the Cloth

Closings, today is our last day at La B.A.R.N. and the sense of calm radiating from the lake will be missed.

A common theme over the last few days in the studio has been patience.
But I am not convinced this is the word I am searching for or the framing to present.

The studio has been busy with ordering and re-ordering, highlight moments and bodies, and coordinating the octet. With the importance of play always present.

Complete freedom, acceptance and rigor might be more appropriate. Watching the reflection of the mind manifest in the bodies is the most curious and exciting for me. That in fact you can not perform with your "partner" or impose your will into the cloth.

You just have to do the task as purely as possible. The physicality and actions will fill in the rest.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Kicking up the Dust

Rocking the barn and kicking up the dust in morning class!

Jump combo (with kicks!) from Mocean company class
Dancers: Jacinte Armstrong and Ruth-Ellen Kroll Jackson

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Finding the form to follow

The colour of infinity possibilities presented itself in the studio today. It was decided to clear the pallet and allow for the imagination to run wild.

Even while trying to avoid the air with a bit of bite, the pants were rolled up and the dancers stomped their way through the day.

Finding the plum line of cloth, folding white roses, and the question of the perfect kilt fold was solved.

White, with the knife in the study

Well I am happy to report that as our days together climb, my observational skills have sharpened and I am quick to add all the pieces together.... If you have any loose ends, I would be happy to help!

A Day on the Town

Yesterday was a full day off for the company. So of course we decided to escape into the city, and have a town day!

A little shopping, a stop at the market, sight seeing, a stroll through the National Art Gallery, and beer and cupcakes were all on the agenda.

"Suzant" was very happy to have a healthy serving of protein, and "Rhonaduth" savored her strong cup of Java in her new tartan bows.

The gallery had lots of riches to share from trailers, to graffiti covered corvettes, portable planetariums, beautiful bone and suspend barbwire.

The day ended with a cottage fable: the little hummingbird who does all that she can.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Layers of Wool and Weaving of Material

Today, we tried to find the happy balance between the warmth of the sunlight and the refreshing crisp fall air. The layers have started to accumulate in the studio. Both on the body and in the space.
Today is day 4 of our meeting, meshing and making. The new alternative to working. Today was also the emergence of a glimmer of something tangible. The presence of a piece starts to fill the air, even in our short period of meshing and making a history creates itself. I see it in the wood, the cloaks, the breath sinking into the bones.

The more we work, the more we learn about the lucky dragon, the dependable ox, the watery pig and the three earthy rams.

The White Japanese Death Dog escorts us on a stroll around the grounds, my time in the open air was interjected with phone calls from the office and the evening nightcap was a steaming bowl of Borscht!

Monday, 12 September 2011

Tartan Techniques and Life’s Lessons in Fashion

Day 2:
"First you need a good bellow, circle 1 and ½ times, stretching your arms like long sticks. Easy knees, half a swing step- double time, elevated centre and transferring your weight through your heels."
Spoken like the pro that he is, we watch in awe and absorb Tedd’s wisdom and mastery of the robe.

I feel lucky to be in the studio and have quickly transitioned into the Mocean Okasan, I watch each dancer full of pride, empathy and respect.

Barn Dances

Day 1: In the studio we were greeted with quick, short movement introductions delivered with a warm heart and open presence. Not knowing what comes next and a bit of hesitation snuck into the bodies and physicality with beauty and reverence. Where the curiosity for the discovery led the way.

The dancers explored their attempting bodies, where the interest was more in their processing versus the actual achievement of the task at hand.

Arrivals and Introductions

After a small detour in Ottawa, where the unintended scenic route took us past the National Art Gallery… twice, we finally found our way along the 148 Ouest.

We drove up to Tedd’s beautiful property and were greeted by a wiggling Stella, the White Japanese Death Dog. A lovely ghost that passes through our day looking for licks, apple cores and any extra attention she can get it.

The cottage rules were recited with grace and dignity and we quickly moved in. In the group, we have the stackers, the spreaders and the nook finders but our place of dwell was naturally established.

Walking the grounds and discovering its beauty was the first order of business.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

New Season, New Beginnings, Stronger Tides

The dust has settled from the company's recent milestone marker and celebration of Mocean Dance's first decade with the acclaimed Decennium production. Where long-time company followers were able to re-cap some of Mocean's most memorable works and new fans got the quick best of the best.

A new chapter is about to begin, and tomorrow the 2011-2012 season will kick off in full swing. This season you may notice a convergence of a few tidal surges with some common faces going to new places.

I, Sara Coffin have finally found my way back to the East Coast and will be riding the Atlantic waters for the year. I am very excited to take the role of Interim Artistic Director for the season and looking forward to sinking my feet into the sand a little longer this time, as I direct the company and take a pause from my west coast living. It feels great to be breathing that Atlantic air again, rediscovering my home town like its a whole new place and adding my artistic influences into the community.

The company's first project this season is a new creation with Canadian icon Tedd Robinson. Together with the company dancers, we will travel to Ottawa and spend a 10 day creative residency at La B.A.R.N. for the first leg of the creation process. Joining me for the 11th season will be company dancers: Jacinte Armstrong, Rhonda Baker, Susanne Chui, and Ruth-Ellen Kroll Jackson.

at La B.A.R.N. just outside Ottawa, the home of 10 Gates Dancing Inc.

Stayed tuned via the new re-vamped blog and check in on the creation as it develops. I will be posting our discoveries along the way and keeping the community abreast while we work.

The final work is set to premiere January 19-21, 2012 as part of the Live Art Dance Productions' exciting season line-up. I hope you stay tuned and watch Mocean on the Move go to new places!