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

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Looking Back as We Move Ahead

I’m writing this post in the Mocean Dance office that is...not huge, but which is a lot bigger than the one we had when I started, where the three of us would spin around in our chairs for a meeting and be centimeters away from touching knees, but still close to bumping the desks behind us; I can’t help but like this image of physical growth, of taking up more space, in tandem with the less tangible place Mocean has grown into in the last 15 years. 

fifteen, though it is a celebration of where we are today and what we’re looking toward, also has a strong pull back; we’ve been digging through the archives all summer and asking everyone from the founders to today’s emerging dancers what they think, hope, and remember about Mocean. We’ve got a crew downstairs filming interviews with the community as I type. What I’ve seen this summer, and what I’ve noticed in my short year and a half with the company, is a truly inspiring and humbling growth. I have the immense pleasure and privilege of working with a group of artists (mostly kick-ass women, just throwing that out there) who are pouring so much passion and talent into this community, and in the legacy of five founders whose dedication to this company and place truly blows me away; 15 years of dreams and dedication, fun and sacrifice in equal measure, have created a growth with such momentum that I cannot imagine a force on earth strong enough to stop it.

Here are some highlights from the community reflection on Mocean’s 15th Anniversary, when asked to share or comment on a moment from Mocean’s history:

A decision to proceed with our first show knowing that none of us would get paid for the rest of the year. - Carolle Crooks Fernando (Co-Founder)

The day that this lovely group of young women came into Live Art to talk about their formation of a company! I think it must have been 2002! - Sally Morgan

When Sara Coffin and Susanne Chui took over Mocean Dance people could feel a change was coming. Suddenly the professional dance community began to grow, stay and permeate. Sara and Sue committed to the incentive of their outreach program leaving Halifax dancers hopeful for a dance future in their city. - Olivia Aubrecht

[Seeing Canvas 5x5 upon moving back to Halifax:] Some amount of that performance comforted me, helped me realize that Halifax was a different place than when I had left, helped me realize that I was a different person than when I had left. The community had shifted, the resources were available, you just had to reach out and find them. Dancers were making room for themselves, and Mocean was paving the way for that. I felt empowered, I realized that I could make things happen, I could be a part of these dramatic shifts, in my own ways and through supporting others. - Kathleen Doherty

During the CLEAR Forum 2015 in which I participated as a dancer, we were discussing the future of dance in Halifax. I was gracefully invited into the community when Sara turned to me saying “You are the future of dance in Halifax” This statement inspired in me a new responsibility to carry on the tradition of contemporary dance in Atlantic Canada. Now I view the community with a much larger lens, understanding that Mocean Dance stands for surviving as a dancer through this gritty and unforgiving Environment, not for individual glory but for the importance of representing our culture through dance. - Kara Friesen