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Company 605 has a major Dance Centre residency this season which includes artistic dialogues and community-building initiatives as well as the premiere of a new work on January 21. Our Lindsay Curtis talked to Co-Artistic Directors Lisa Gelley and Josh Martin about their work, the residency, and life as working parents.
LC: Your residency is very extensive: tell us about your artistic goals, and what’s happened so far.
605: Yes, we’ve been pretty busy so far this season – working on a few new projects, remounting work, and also helping to run The Dance Centre’s 12 Minutes Max series. There is a lot going on, but we were excited that the focus of the residency afforded by The Dance Centre could extend further than simply around a single creation, and instead involve the company’s activity within a variety of contexts within the building. As an organization, we really try to make sure we’re considering our place within the community we envision. We want to help build connectivity between different artists and audiences, to be part of, and help expand, the current dialogue around dance. As artists, we’re attempting to keep questioning and exploring what we’re doing and how we’re doing it, and this always feels more successful when we avoid an isolation of our practice. Performing work-in-progress for the Discover Dance! series, for instance, gives us a lot of new information about what we’re doing and how a public might encounter it. It was especially interesting to also put our work in front of a high school audience, and then teach them workshops about some of our approaches. We receive really different types of questions and feedback, a different perspective, and that feels exciting.
LC: Company 605’s next work, Loop, Lull, premieres on January 21: what can you tell us about this piece?
605: We’re looping! With this project, we really set out to build a practice, a way of working, that would itself inform and become the performance, rather than thinking in terms of composing a rigid choreography that could be replicated. In the work, movement is being created and manipulated live, and the act of looping it (repeating it without beginning or end) is the base from which it will warp and keep changing into something else. We’re working with incredible dancers who are essentially learning and creating simultaneously with one another as the piece transforms, while also controlling some environmental lighting and sound elements – this involves a lot of multi-tasking, takes a lot of patience and negotiation, and requires a hyper-awareness of one another and the space they share.
In many ways the piece is about tracking change, paying attention to “the new” that is emerging and helping it to fully arrive. There is an evolving structure, which lays a foundation for the dancers’ shared route through the work, but each performance requires an adaptation to a new set of variables, and a real coping with the numerous unknowns that affect their individual experience. We’d like to imagine the piece itself to keep transforming, constantly on its way to becoming something else.
LC: The theatre will be configured differently for Loop, Lull, what impact do you hope this will have?
605: There is an obvious circular nature to a loop, which plays a role in our decision to place the piece in the round, but one of the goals was also to create a space that felt like everyone was in the same room, within view of each other, and not distant or removed from the experience of the performers. Every viewer will have a different perspective of / proximity to the dance at various points throughout the performance, and this creates some good challenges for us as creators. There is something liberating about having all elements on display – no magic, nothing hidden – which forces us to focus on the complexity of the interaction between the performers and the difficult tasks they’re juggling together. Dancers can do extraordinary, superhuman things, but we want viewers to see the real people inside this work and putting everyone on the same level may help us to bring a different type of attention to the piece.
LC: What else do you have coming up in your residency in 2019?
605: Guest facilitating 12 Minutes Max has been really rewarding as we read about so many inspiring projects and ideas happening in the community, become introduced to new artists, and watch the trajectory of their research develop and materialize. This makes us really aware of our needs as artists, presumably at all stages of a choreographic career, to have an outlet and practice of sharing and speaking about what we’re working on – long before it is considered “done”. This has been something we’ve been discussing with a number of people, including our Associate Artistic Producer, Avery Smith, who has helped us imagine a sharing series, strictly for artists, to enter a very casual but extended conversation about what they’re making, their creative process and projects in development. As part of our residency, Making Conversation will be an experiment we launch in the Spring to learn about how diverse choreographers might support one another through simply showing and talking about what they’re attempting to do/find/make, and discussing methods and strategies they might be undertaking, whether considered successful or not.
Eight creators, plus ourselves, will meet 8 times over 3 months. We don’t know how it will materialize, but we have found such tremendous encouragement by simply facing our creative challenges while in dialogue with other artists, and we hope this pilot program will help initiate this type of support and awareness of a broader community who are all in the same boat.
LC: In addition to this residency, Company 605 has an extremely busy schedule including international touring, and you have a young child: do you have any tips for other working parents?
605: We have to imagine that any and every working parent undergoes similar struggles we’re now continuously facing, trying to both manage and balance our work life and family life. Travel is just one of many things that creates new challenges for us. Though we wouldn’t really recommend touring with a toddler to anyone, we are finding ways to make it work, simply because we have to! These are the realities of our career – but we’re sure that every occupation would create their own challenges with kid(s) in tow. Each situation is so unique, so we can’t offer any good tips, but, if for some reason we are making it look easy, it is not!
The Dance Centre presents the Global Dance Connection series:
Company 605: Loop, Lull
January 21-22, 28-29, 2019 7PM
Scotiabank Dance Centre, 677 Davie Street, Vancouver BC
Presented with Push International Performing Arts Festival
Supported through Artist-in-Residence program
Photo credits: David Cooper