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

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Gliding Sophistication transforms into Firecracker Quick

With only a week’s pause, the studio is alive again with motion/mocean and creative energy!! This time familiar friends and long standing colleagues are in the studio, gathered from Toronto, Fredericton and of course Halifax to work with choreographer Lesandra Dodson.

Lesandra is creating a new duet for guest artist Darryl C. Tracy and the dancer Halifamous Susanne Chui (sorry Cory the challenge is on). Lesandra has previously choreographed for Mocean Dance creating “You Tackle a Staircase Face On,” in 2007 which has since toured regionally and quite extensively! We loved her so much, we wanted her back to continue supporting her distinctive creative voice.

Lesandra Dodson directs Susanne and Darryl.

There are no strangers in the studio, I first met Lesandra in 2003 in my graduating year at Simon Fraser. Susanne has worked with Lesandra in the past on a number of projects and first met in Toronto while Susanne danced for the TILT sound + motion company.

Darryl has also known Lesandra since 2003,  and for this creation he gets to feel the contrasting blistering cold months of Halifax compared to his annual summer visits when here as teaching faculty for DANS Summer Dance.  Darryl is no stranger to Halifax and we are thrilled to be able to host him on a more regular basis.

Too quick for the lens!

This project marks Mocean’s first inclusion of male energy on the stage, expanding beyond the company’s well-known territory of the female archetype. Tedd Robinson of course gave us a little prelude with the inclusion of our mysterious 'strapping young' bag piper guest for the Live Art Dance presentations.

I have been in and out of the studio this week preparing for upcoming grants and a wee research trip abroad, but already I see lightning quick gestures and relationships crafted through the pull of space.

Rolled rugs, exit signs, and a few four legged creatures..... more to come from inside the studio, stay tuned.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Thoughts and Reflections from the Gen Y studio

Below is the first Gen Y posting from one of our participating dancers. Here are her thoughts and reflections from our third session together at DANSpace-on-Grafton. As you read, you can imagine my delight when I found this insightful reflection in my inbox offered as a post for the blog!

This weekends' chapter of Gen Y was very exciting. Coming into our third creative assembly felt more natural as we have gotten to know each other, the space, and energies better. Sara reminded us early in our rehearsal that it is not enough to simply envision the end result of a movement or to think a correction because the most essential link in achieving the vision is exactly that, a link, a process, the kinesthetic sequence between X and Y. It's so simple but allowing myself to feel movement instead of thinking it was very freeing. Obviously we can't be brain dead but it's true, the brain doesn't dance, the body dances.

Again Sara enlightened us on the use of our head as a limb, which essentially it is!! This was exciting but also scary as in modern or contemporary dance the spine is not held eternally erect as in classical ballet. The spine swings, curves, twists, and explores the infinite shapes that all of our many vertebrae can attain. While this is very exciting it can be disorienting and heavy to take our ten-pound heads along for the ride. Sara also reassured us that dancing with our heads not upright and letting our inner ear fluids become accustomed to being upside down, sideways and so on, it will become easier and more comfortable. I have a big head so it felt good to let it drop toward the floor during our Rollé exercise. 

Learning how to 'catch' at the Gen Y audition.

We continued on to some lifting work, which was so fun. I have bigger muscles in my arms than most dancers I find so I liked being able to use them! However, it seems during this process I've been reminded that in contact work the pelvis tends to be the centre of attention. You always want to be in contact with and supporting the other's pelvis because it's the heaviest part and everything stems from it. I was partnered with Amy. She is the youngest and I the oldest in the group and I think we relate in the sense that we both have to let go of possibly some insecurities about our age difference in the group and work simply as fellow creators of movement. We aced some lifts!!

Overall, great movement sesh and we got some spacial patterns for our final work solidified, very exciting. I hope I get to make a call on the rotary phone which is apparently a wanted prop for the piece if anyone has one available. Bye for now!
-2012 Gen Y Participant, age 21 

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.


GEN Y- cultivating a new generation of dancers

Last Year Mocean Dance initiated the Gen Y Project as a means to unite local HRM dance schools and to provide an opportunity to work in a setting that bridges the gap between the student and professional dance world. Gen Y helps to form community connections and develop interpretive and working skills amongst the next generation of professional dancers.

This outreach initiative seeks to foster the artists of tomorrow in a forum that encourages exchange and expands horizons beyond the scope of a young dancer's familiar surroundings. Now with the 2nd installment well under way, Mocean Dance is bringing together HRM’s upcoming talent to create something special. 

I am thrilled to be working with this group of dancers, hand selected from our open audition held in November. This year the participating students are from Halifax Dance, Maritime Dance Academy, Leica Hardy School of Dance, and the Maritime Conservatory for the Performing Arts.

A sea of dancers from the November 2011 Gen Y Audition!
I had a tough job, selecting only 12 out of the 30 promising dancers who showed up.  Gen Y's final piece choreographed by myself, will be performed at In the Making, March 3-4 and as part of the YOung COmpany's home season May 11-12, 2012.

Learning a combo at the November Gen Y Audition.
I am pleased to share the development of the new piece through the power of digital digest and this time.... I have asked the young dancers to participate in the blogging as well.

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.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Three Full Houses and the Standing O!

Tedd Robinson brought Halifax to their feet and packed three full houses for the premiere of Canvas 5 x 5! What a weekend and a lot of fun had by all on stage and in the audience.

Described by Arts East as "Mesmerizing"  and "Igniting the Room" by Andrea Nemetz from The Chronicle Herald.

Tedd Robinson left a mark in the community with his warm spirit, artist talks, and the gift of striking contemporary dance.   It was sad to see our friend go but we at Mocean Dance are grateful to have worked with such a great artist and person!

Well the anticipated secret was revealed this weekend and we closed each evening with guest bag piper Nick vanOuwerjek. It was a pleasure adding live music to our performances, especially the profound, powerful and moving sound of the pipes.

Stay tuned, as there is much more to come in 2012. Next up is a new creation with Lesnadra Dodson with dancers Susanne Chui and Darryl C. Tracy, then the 2nd edition of Gen-Y will hit the stage in March and May with choreography by myself. Finally, Mocean's dance party of the year "Reverb" - an inter-media art party with installation work from NSCAD and guest DJ Adham Shaikh..... just in time for International Dance Day on April 28. A party not to miss, more info coming soon!

Stay tuned and keep in motion with Mocean Dance!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

On Stage Tonight!!

The house lights will be going down, the seats full and the magic of performance will heat up this chilly day!  Tickets are going fast, so don't miss your chance to see Mocean Dance on stage with Claudia Moore.

It has been a pleasure watching Canvas 5 x 5 grow from inception to the stage and watching Tedd Robinson revel in his craft. The piece has moved from a barn in rural Quebec, to the studios at Halifax Dance and now to the Dunn Theatre. We just have one more detail to add and that's you the audience.

The energy of live performance and the exchange between performer and audience is a magic thing. The shared experience of raw authentic giving, a chance in your day to feel first and think second. A rarity of our times that we would like to share with you tonight.

Below are a few captures from on stage just to get you excited.

See you at 7pm for Tedd Robinson's Pre-Show Chat
The curtain opens at 8pm!

Canvas 5 x 5 by Tedd Robinson,  Photo by Holly Crooks

Canvas 5 x 5 by Tedd Robinson,  Photo by Holly Crooks

Tickets are still available for Mocean and Moore 
from  Live Art Dance by phoning (902) 494-3820 or on-line here

Presented by Live Art Dance Productions
Dalhousie Art Centre, Sir James Dunn Theatre
6101 University Ave.
Jan 19-21, @ 8pm

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

This week is definitely Mocean and so much moore!

After a day in the theatre setting the lights with designer Leigh Ann Vardy and smoothing out the edges with our wonderful tech team, lead by Marcel Boulet -I ran over to the King's University dance studio to lead a master class for the King's Dance Collective.

Live Art Dance and Mocean teamed up to offer a master class and ticket combo deal for the King's Dance Collective members. I taught an advanced contemporary dance class, gave a little intro about the upcoming production and Live Art Dance offered tickets to see the performance, plus free beer!!!

Griffin McInnes, an intern with Live Art Dance worked his magic at the Wardroom student pub and the master class participants finished their evening with a nice tasty refreshment. The combination of being in the old university architecture and the student's raw energy I felt like I was brought back in time to the enlightenment era. Discussions on art, embodiment and how dance supports the world's natural rhythm quickly spilled onto the table.   I also had the pleasure of seeing "the pit"- the working grounds for the the king's theatre society. 

Through my enthusiasm for the evening, I might have convinced all the collective members to change their majors to dance, or at least encourage the journalism students to become dance writers and critics. But all and all it was a successful evening, new ties were made and I am excited to be able to share Mocean and Moore with these promising individuals.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

friggatriskaidekaphobia (a Fear of Friday the 13th)

Today in the studio superstitions were the topic of conversation and their were weird vibrations in the air!!
  • Balancing boxes were having difficulty finding their plum line,
  • dancers lost their breath and were tripping on their tongues while counting,
  • choreography got tangled,
  • unexpected visitors captured our souls on their lens,
  • costumes were ripped to shreds
  • and did I mention a strange new drone

This might seem on first read, a pretty disastrous day, but after shaking off our superstitions it ended up being another productive day. Conducted with ease and grace on a day known for mishaps and strange encounters.

The most exciting part of our week was left for the very end, a special Friday the 13th visitor. But mostly the anticipation to hit the theatre and work with the magic of lighting designer Leigh Ann Vardy is pretty high.

The count down is on for performance days and we can't wait to share our world created with Tedd Robinson.

Tedd Robinson works the canvas following the grain and letting er' rip

Dancers: Susanne Chui, Ruth-Ellen Jackson and Jacinte Armstrong fall to the ground after an exhausting
and lively run for the visiting Chronicle Herald photographer.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Stella, the Studio Mascot- A choreographic photo story

You may remember Stella the White Japanese Death Dog from my postings in September. Well our furry little friend made an appearance here in Halifax.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Studio to Stage: Live Art Dance supports a theatre residency day!

Today Mocean Dance had the pleasure of finding a sense of home on stage at the Sir James Dunn Theatre. The process of moving a new work from the studio to stage is transformative and can even take on the look of a shape shifting transformer.

Live Art Dance supports a wonderfully fruitful theatre residency day!

Lighting Designer Leigh Ann Vardy immersed in her work!

Being on stage and seeing the work in the frame of the theatre, the choreographer gets to see what they know and hope to know based on this new frame, they are faced with details that went unnoticed in the studio and at the same time might look for the details that might get lost.

Choerographer Tedd Robinson gives notes on stage.
Meanwhile, the dancers are adapting to the new 'sense of space' and some of the established landmarks on how the live in the piece may need to be re-jigged or re-defined.

Being in the theatre for the first time is kinda like a first-date. You are extremely excited for what's too come and see lots of potential but at the same time their is an awkward sense of time, a few trips and slips and the odd malfunction.

Luckily for us the transition felt fairly smooth and our process of knowing is only getting deeper.

Moving from studio to stage, the mocean dancers run the piece on the Dunn stage.
Working on stage today, Tedd moves through the theatre with ease and much wisdom. Problem solving on site, pulling inspiration from the space and remembering past performances within the Dunn walls.

Creating new sculptures and finding their sense of home on stage at the Dunn.

The creation of the new work by Tedd Robinson is supported by Live Art Dance through an additional technical residency as part of our creation process. Mocean dance is grateful for the support and that the piece has been able to develop at Tedd Robinson's La B.A.R.N, the studios of Halifax Dance and now on stage at the Dunn.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The process of knowing

Eyes catching, breath skipping, cloth floating, limbs covered, energy untamed and exploding

The process of knowing more and finding more is a curious, enriching and delicate process. This is the part where beauty reveals itself, both within the act and in that split second of catching that intangible.  

The light, indirect, sustained act of looking (often attributing to the feeling of floating) and then you see it and sparks fly. This is my endorphin within the creative process and as an artist. The best part is, its a magic moment that you know will happen, you just don't know when?

On the opposite side of the studio in the dancer's bodies lives tenacity, dedication and openness in order to give, try and yield to every moment.

I guess if words were to be used it is the place of 'unknowing anticipated knowing'.

It is interesting to watch how each collaborator/creator inhabits this place. I witnessed this place today, discussion were had about this place, and I saw a lot of little sparks turning into  something really exciting.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Back to Life, Back to Reality!

Luckily our reality is full of good cheer!  Happy New Year digital patrons and fans.

I wish you all lots of creativity for 2012 and perhaps might suggest that you could fuel your fire with Mocean Dance!

Photo by Holly Crooks
Mocean is back in the studio and preparing for our coming performances January 19-21.

Presented by Live Art Dance, with performances by Mocean Dance and Claudia Moore, featuring work by two Canadian masters Tedd Robinson and James Kudelka. Shows are only two weeks away!

Dancing off the post-holiday glaze on Tuesday, the dancers hit the studio to begin work today with guest choreographer Tedd Robinson. Getting the material back into the bodies and now working on the fine details with a few big surprises in store!

Stay tuned on-line for in-studio features leading up to the show, but most importantly feel the warmth of bringing dance to life on stage Jan 19-21!