By: Vivika Ballard
In the February Kinetic Open Studio Series Lydia Zimmer, Michele Slattery and I performed What We Want, a new ‘work in progress’ by Kathleen Doherty (Votive Dance) and mentored by Sara Coffin. The process was facilitated by the Mocean Dance Emerge Project 2016. It was a great networking opportunity and a creatively nurturing experience. I felt both artistically respected and challenged and was perhaps surprised a bit by my discoveries in performance. You make a lot of your own opportunities as an independent dancer here in Halifax and Emerge was a welcome platform for growth.
Having moved away from home to study dance at age twelve, I went through a period recently when, looking back, dance was no longer worth the sacrifices I had made. I needed time to simply live and become someone outside of the studio. Dance took a backseat. This was poor timing in my career but asserted the importance of my integrity as an artist and what I needed to do to reclaim that. It was an uncomfortable transition and a turn inward and away from my heavy history with dance. Almost like the place you go when you’re performing. The place where you suspend yourself, you suspend time, and anything outside the theatre is really irrelevant for a period. I felt rootless and afraid like the meek sense of vulnerability you feel when you step on stage. While you’ve been there a thousand times before this time is new yet again. Everything is focused. Who knows what’s to happen? And there’s a gentle fear in this.
Photo by Rhonda Baker
But there is integrity and courage to be claimed in the focused space that is performance. I realized that going on stage requires these qualities. If you’re lost and afraid you will have to find strength to tap into that living space and it’s not tangible. It requires the heart. It’s a sensation of being alive. I had lost that in dance for a time and I felt this opportunity helped my rediscovery of that.
The process was gentle yet rich in exploration and allowed us much artistic license. A lot of the work was drawn from our improvisation and our personalities. We played around with story telling and speaking written text to express different versions of ourselves. We reflected on how we do and do not see ourselves which felt appropriate for me at this point in my life.
One of the unique parts about this project was the fact that that exploration continued onto the stage and into performance. I felt awakened by the possibilities on stage more as opposed to feeling afraid, tired or ashamed. Performance has a great healing effect because it opens an emotional or spiritual channel that draws on courage and allows movement and expression. I often feel a great sense of humanity.
Photo by Rhonda Baker
See the final version of What We Want April 28-30 at the Sonic Temple remounted for Votive Dance.