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

Monday, 3 December 2012

Happy Valley - Goose Bay

The company has just returned from Labrador after a whirlwind of activity. It all began on Nov. 20th when Jacinte Armstrong and I travelled to Happy Valley - Goose Bay to take part in the 37th Labrador Creative Arts Festival, Canada's longest running children's arts festival. We were there along with 11 other artists from across Canada - writers, actors, visual artists, musicians, a folklorist and even a make-up artist - to teach workshops to students from schools across Labrador, who travelled to Goose Bay to present original plays that they wrote, directed and performed. Over the week-long festival Jacinte and I taught workshops to hundreds of students from Grade one up to high school and we also travelled to Lake Melville School, in North West River, and Sheshatshui Innu School in Upper Lake Melville.

Our young dance group.
Some of the other artists also travelled by plane to coastal schools in more remote areas of the province. Jacinte and I stayed in town to work with a lovely group of local, young dancers  after school each day.

We set a piece of Jacinte's choreography, Chain Link Again, on the dancers and gave them extensive coaching (they should all know how to find their hip sockets now!). After a short rehearsal of our own and a quick dinner, we headed back to the theatre each night to attend the student's plays and watch 'cameo' appearances by the visiting artists.

Our billet, Jake Leyte
Jacinte and I at the Sheshatshui Innu School
The theme of the festival was 'transformation' and it was fascinating to see what the students came up with under this theme. Many of the plays centred around the changes that are happening in their communities, including the clash of old and new, and the impact technology is having on culture and tradition. All of the plays were unique and were very touching to watch. Afterwards the fun kept going into the night, as we were treated to parties each night in the homes of the committee members and friends of the festival. We had a fantastic time enjoying the wholehearted hospitality of the people of Goose Bay, who drove us around, fed us, entertained us, (lent us a treadmill) and made us feel completely welcomed. A big shout out to our billet Jake Leyte, looked after us so well and kept us laughing the whole time.

The festival has an amazing spirit of positivity and respect towards youth and art that is utterly inspiring. I was sad to see the festival come to an end, and say goodbye to the fellow artists, but for us it was not over yet.

The official festival button!
Fiona Anderson, Festival Co-ordinator and Tim Borlase, Festival Founder

Rhonda staying warm in style!

On Wednesday, Ruth, Rhonda and Marcel joined us to prepare for our show on Nov. 30th. After a quick remount rehearsal at the local gym, while Marcel transformed the Lawrence O'Brien Arts Centre stage, we got into the theatre and began getting ready for the show. This was a very special event for community of Happy Valley-Goose Bay as it was the first ever full-length professional dance performance in the community. On the program was Lisa Phinney Langley's duet, Beside Myself, Gasping, with video image by Rohan Fernando, the student dancers performing Jacinte's piece, Chain Link Again, and this season's signature work Canvas 5x5  by Tedd Robison, with guest piper Steve Gregory. The show was a great success, attended by over 120 people (apparently double the usual amount for a event like this), many of whom were students and people we had connected with through the festival. In the post show talk we enjoyed hearing from the audience, who were curious about the works and what it was like to perform. Many commented afterwards that they enjoyed the show, and that they wished there were more performances like this one.

Student photo exhibit in the lobby of the theatre.

Beautiful painted clay artwork created by students on display in the lobby of the theatre.
Being in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and taking part in the festival and the performance have been a very memorable experiences. A big thanks to Kathleen & John Hicks, Fiona Anderson, Tim Borlase and the Labrador Creative Arts Festival committee and volunteers for their incredible dedication and hard work, to the staff and volunteers of the Lawrence O'Brien Arts Centre, and a special thanks to Jake Leyte, Deb Gill, Tracy Leal & Robyn Spracklin Webber and family.

Next stop on the tour - Miramichi, New Brunswick in February!

- Susanne Chui

Our reverse interview with Byron from CBC.

Jacinte, Rhonda and Marcel hitting the town.

The hotel.

The Lawrence O'Brien Arts Centre

Goodbye Goose Bay!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

2012/2013 Season Kick Off

Mocean kicked off the 2012 season and their Atlantic Canadian tour Sunday night in Wolfville, NS. The company performed Artistic Director Susanne Chui's work entitled, Threnodies as well as Canvas 5x5 by Tedd Robinson.

The remounting period and performance day were my first behind the scenes experiences with Mocean Dance. As a mentee in the Fresh Tracks Program run by Mocean, I had the pleasure of learning the remounted works and traveling with the company for the performance day. The experience in the studio really gave me a behind the scenes look at each of the works. I had seen both works performed early in the year, and had an idea of what I thought each were about. By being there for the remounting process I learned the background and influence behind the movement, which really made a difference when I was dancing the material myself. I also found a whole new experience and level of appreciation when watching both works after working in the studio, especially the ease the dancers showed when ‘handling the canvas' - it's harder than it looks!

On Sunday we found ourselves in Wolfville getting ready for the technical rehearsals. It was a jam packed day, but everyone was ready to make the day a big success. I had the opportunity to hop on stage and fill in during the tech for Canvas 5x5. Any time I have an opportunity to get on stage (even without an audience) I truly treasure it. The other dancers were happy and keen to have me assisting and were great about direction, spacing and canvas handling advice while I was filling in. 

A large audience filled the Festival Theatre in Wolfville that night, who rose to their feet after seeing the stunning Canvas 5x5. I had the luck of being offstage during Canvas to assist with handling of props and directing the bag piper. I believe I had the best seat in the house! Not only could I watch the on stage performance, but I was able to observe the dancers as the entered and exited the stage. Even when they were off stage you could feel their connection to each other. It was a truly unique experience. Post show the dancers were treated to a wine reception which gave audience goers a chance to chat with the dancers and express their delights about the show. Many popular comments focused on the wonderful musicians who accompanied the trio of dancers in Threnodies, and also the beautiful imagery and creativity in Canvas 5x5

Spending time with the Mocean dancers in the studio and on the road was a great learning experience and lots of fun, hopefully it won't be too long until I can do it all over again! One part that I really enjoyed was getting to know all the dancers. I have worked with them all before either as teachers or choreographers, but this experience gave me a chance to know them on a dancing level, as well as a more personal level, which I really enjoyed. All of these Mocean dancers have done so much in their careers already, it's awesome to be a part of a project with them and learn from their experience. 

Next stop on the tour: St. John's, Newfoundland to take part in the Festival of New Dance (October 12, 2012)!  

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Bodies and Tones Fracture and Solidify

 We are in day 4 in  creation at the Charlotte Street Art Centre and the nuances and textures that Lesandra and the dancers are playing with make it feel like its day 467. 

I have been dropping in and out of the studio, (really maximizing the mobile Mocean office), but once crossing that studio threshold the depth of inquiry and giving is very noticeable and remarkable.

On Wednesday tones and bodies were working hard, and the themes of fracturing and solidifying were simultaneously at play. 

Day 4 studio Recap

Bodies -Details, subtleties, tone, layering and fracturing, performance vs. experiential
Dancers Darryl Tracy and Susanne Chui clarify and solidify behind the set pieces.

Tones- subtle, rich, a felt presence, space, supportive, echo, tonality, eerie, stillness, humanizing/humanity, spatial, influx...

Christine Fellows and Leanne Zacharias at work simultaneously receiving and giving.

Music Composition Central, Room 212 is the recording studio. I tried to sneak in but the heavy recording session prevented my reporter like snap habits.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Charlotte Street Creations

Mocean Dance is in the midst of creation with Fredericton-based choreographer Lesandra Dodson at the Charlotte Street Art Centre!

Hot and fiery summer air meets the studio.

This is our second working period for this new commission to create a new male-female duet by LD. Lesandra is working her magic and crafting a wonderous world with guest male-dancer Darryl Tracy (Toronto) and incoming Artistic Director Susanne Chui.

This is my first time in Freddy! A quiet charming town with beautiful American civil war inspired architecture (I am pretending to be a historian, but I am actually no expert). Working on the weekend and over this holiday Monday has made the town seem extra still and suspended in this hot summer air.

But this mysterious feeling is feeding into firefly reflexes of the dancers.

We are blessed with many delights, Lesandra and our composer Christine Fellows are currently artist-in-residence at the Charlotte Street Art Centre, so we get to use this wonderful space.

We get to start working with composers/musicians Christine Fellows and Leanne Zacharias. I personally can't wait to hear that woody cello sound, the found objects orchestra and rich vocals in the air!

The new duet will be part of the Dodson Trilogy project touring to Halifax, Fredericton and Winnipeg in January 2013!

The Fredericton Playhouse and Charlotte Street Art Centre will be co-hosting an open showing at the end of this week to share a taste of these delights.

More to follow and creative details in store! Stay tuned.


Thursday, 3 May 2012

A Week of Celebration: how does your world come to life with dance?

Its spring, I am finally starting to feel it in the air. There is  potential budding everywhere

These past two weeks have been filled with hustle and excitement for Mocean Dance, here in the city and nationally. With Canada's first ever National Dance Week, dance organizations from across the country came together to voice our love and express the necessity for dance in one loud clear weeklong manifesto. That International Dance Day reminds us of the necessity for take part or experience rich artistic expressions of dance, the necessity to simply acknowledge the wonder of the human body and the necessity to savour the small day-to-day dances that happens daily all around us. 

Amongst the International Dance Day Celebration was Mocean's first ever intermedia dance party: ReVeRb.  

A fusion of dance, site-specific performances, intermedia installations, beautiful film imagery of Mocean Dance and a dance floor no one could ignore.  DiJi Dale and DJ Adham Shaikh filled the room with their incredible energy and undeniable beats that made everyone move.

Celebrating the power of moving together, the inner dance pulse and the beauty of movement was on our menu card. The event was a huge success and I was so happy to interconnect with NSCAD University, DJ Adham Shaikh and of course our audience, fans, and patrons of Mocean Dance.

ReVeRb: dance players in the sonic playground installed in the Pacifico's Crave Lounge

Now for this week its National Youth Arts Week! 

This menu card is for serving up celebrations to acknowledge 
engaged, connected and creative youth.

Gen Y performs at the AGNS on May 1
Not wanting to watch from the wayside, the dance youth of the HRM jumped right in and shared their talents as part of the celebrations. Mocean's Gen Y Project performed as party of the National Youth Arts Week Launch Party at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
Taking part in the National Youth Arts Week showing their skills and expressive selves through movement!

On Tuesday May 1 the Nova Scotia Art Gallery was a buzz of activity and the creative energy was flowing all around. The Gen Y dancers did an excellent job performing in the packed lobby and held the crowd with their intention and investment to the choreography.

How rewarding it was to watch a whole evening dedicated to engaged and creative youth! To celebrate that their medium for connectivity and exchange is through the arts, and witness them revel in their artistic platforms which serves as a channel to express their personal and collective thoughts and desires.

Where would these youth be without the arts, without their artistic practices and pursuits.  Alone?

That thought alone makes my heart sink.
On Tuesday night every youth present at the Launch party felt like they belonged to something greater, they oozed with pride and ownership, their knowing of themselves and learning who they want to be was a results of their connections to the arts. I was witness to a room full of potential and that acknowledgment of their potential was empowering and liberating for all involved.

Like young buds on a tree, nurturing and acknowledging what each has to offer is the greatest gift we humans can offer.

Mocean's Gen Y Project is supported through the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage Cultural Opportunities for Youth Program and the RBC Emerging Artist Program.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

RPP: Reverb Promotions and Preparations

Tuesday morning, bright and early. Susanne gives the thumbs up for enough dancing room. Check!

Martin tackles the sculpture puzzle and gets ready for our CTV Atlantic Morning preview.

I hold the Reverb poster at the Halifax International airport so Adham can spot me! It works!

Our kick-ass YoRodeo designed poster is the new gnome traveling around Halifax. Adham Shaikh gives a big grin and plays along, thanks Adham! Can't wait to make some magic for International Dance Week tomorrow night!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Folding to the beat, many possibilities and soooo much fun!

Mocean dancers Rhonda Baker, Susanne Chui, 
and Interim Artistic Director Sara Coffin navigate the immersive 
sculpture designed by Martin Tonner at NSCAD's Port Campus.

Mocean Dance was on-site at NSCAD's port campus on Saturday, a beautiful day with open skies and the view of the mesmerizing ocean.  Rehearsing on the 2nd floor with the ocean at our feet, we really felt as if the floor was shifting below us while the sculpture was shifting around us. 

Really observing levers, hinge points, joints, finding spaces and pause was the recipe of the day as all the options for play unfolded in front of us.  Martin jumped in and intervened when he could see a coming structural tangle. Our day in the studio was like trying to master a chess game, Martin very familiar with the sculpture could see ahead in the potential plays, whereas we the dancers, were beginner chess players just trying to remember which one was the knight and when to move the precious queen!

By the end of the day the play moves became more obvious and the risky maneuvers started to take the stage.   Framing, pause, asymmetry, mirroring were our tools at battle. 

Come see the finished product at Reverb!! There will be an added element of mini-cameras and captured frames spilling throughout the room around us. As an audience your eye will have many options to bounce from and hang onto.

REVERB: AN INTERMEDIA DANCE  PARTY, April 26th at the Pacifico Dancebar
with guest DJ ADHAM SHAIKH!!!!

Get your tickets today at
Tickets: $15 advance / $20 door / $45 VIP

Celebrate International Dance Day on the dance floor with Mocean Dance and support Mocean Dance's annual fundraising event. A new event breaking the mold and finding new viewpoints.

Monday, 9 April 2012

NSCAD Sculpture meets Contemporary Dance

The Proposition...

... How does this cube,...fill this space?

I first met Martin Tonner in the fall through David Clark's  intermedia studio course at NSCAD.  Mocean had proposed a collaboration with the media arts students, asking for proposals that included a meeting ground for contemporary dance, movement and any digital possibility....

A movement enthusiast himself, Martin immediately drew the connection between the folding joints of the body and his pliable mini structure. Curious how one can affect the other, the measurements begin and he creates a life size rubic cube type sculpture for a playground of adaptability to emerge. 

Creating spaces and making places, Mocean dancers (Susanne Chui, Sara Coffin and Rhonda Baker) will dive through and soar around the sculpture both physically and digitally. With mini wi-fi camera attached to the structure and sending their live video feed around the room, a trio is now created between dancers, sculpture and camera and the frames to enter and exit increase exponentially.

The dance will unfold in front and around the audience, through the frames of the folding sculpture and on the 15 media screens around the room. This is Halifax's own matrix adventure.

Folding spaces and making
places to exist physically and digitally

This is an experiment of the negative and positive space, relationships, shifting frames and breaking view points. An experience not to miss.

Join us at Reverb on April 26th and watch this proposition take flight and hit the stage. 

Reverb: an intermedia dance party
April 26th at 9pm
Pacifico Dancebar
Featuring: DJ Adham Shaikh (Vancouver), NSCAD Media Arts, Mocean Dance and YOU!
Tickets: $15 advance / $20 door / $45 VIP, available at

An International Dance Day Celebration!
A fundraiser for Mocean Dance!
A Party not to miss!

Mocean gratefully acknowledges the local support from our Reverb Event Sponsors: 

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Celebrate International Dance Day

Reverb: an Intermedia Dance Party
DJ Adham Shaikh
NSCAD Media Arts 
Mocean Dance and You! 

April 26th, 9pm Pacifico Dancebar
Tickets available at

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Come see Gen Y Perform this weekend!

In The Making

March 3 & 4, 8pm
Neptune Studio Theatre

Witness the stars of the future in this culminating performance of a shared intensive weekend of workshops and lectures bringing together four pre-professional dance companies from the HRM.  Participating companies include Mocean's Gen Y Project The Young Company of Halifax Dance, KiDanCo, Maritime Dance Performance Group and Coastal Dance.
 Co-presentation by Dancer Transition Resource Centre and Halifax Dance.

Tickets $20, $15/students
Available at Neptune Box Office: 429-7070
or on-line @

Dancer Vivika Ballard grounding low
Dancer Kiley Burke falling way back
Gen Y 2012 cast works with Interim Artistic Director Sara Coffin
Flying Low Floor Work

Flying High Partnering Work

Breaking through the Concrete 
choreography by Sara Coffin premieres this weekend!
Performed by HRM's up and coming rising talent Vivika Ballard, Kiley Burke, Amy Campbell, Amanda Clarke, Haley Cooke, Laura Flemming, Liza Hartling, Emily Howes Vallis, Sarah Lake, Rebecca Wolfe.

Mocean's Gen Y Project is graciously supported through the Nova Scotia Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage Cultural Opportunities for Youth Program and the RBC Emerging Artist Program.