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Next up in our Global Dance Connections series is J’ai pleuré avec les chiens (Time, Creation, Destruction) the latest work from choreographer Daina Ashbee. Our Executive Director Mirna Zagar shares some insights into this exciting and powerful piece.
Who is Daina Ashbee?
This is a great question! Those who have met Daina in person will attest she appears to be this petite, beautiful, gentle young being. And she is! However, her work reveals a very mature, strong individual who questions big ideas, revealing new worlds and carving a distinct voice that is inspired by the land, and the stories of her forefathers. Daina has captured the attention of the world with her unique and brave voice, conquering international stages like a storm.
When did you first encounter her?
I first met Daina when she was in the training program at Modus Operandi; she moved to Montreal and we connected from time to time as I came across her work there or in Europe. We presented her work Pour with PuSh International Performing Arts Festival a few years back. I got to know her more closely when she participated in The Dance Centre’s Yulanda Faris Choreographers Program, which ran over a period of almost 2 years.
How would you describe her work?
Her work is very poetic in a very distinctive way. It is visceral, it is almost like painting a picture; it resonates as ritual and as a celebration of female resilience and fortitude. While rich in feeling, the choreographic choices are minimalistic with the elements coming together slowly into a meditative contemplation.
While on the surface her work appears simple, it has many layers that overlap, creating at times surreal universes, but very tangible ones. It can give rise to unease, asking us to acknowledge that we violate mother earth and that we share a deep responsibility regarding what is happening around us globally, from human rights to climate change.
One could describe her as an extreme choreographer – pushing boundaries, expanding the force of the body and its impact on the stage, and its impact on us the audience.
What kind of show is J’ai pleuré avec les chiens?
I Cried with the Dogs is Daina’s first group work but it shows her signature approach to staging. The bodies of the dancers transform into minimalistic portrayals, human sculptures that exist in between the animalistic and the human, the banal and the spiritual, pain and ecstasy.
We witness the cycles of transformation that are typical in her earlier, more intimate solos and duets that probe the upheaval of violence around us. Here she presents us with a powerful community of five performers between the ages of 24 and 58, showing resilience and fortitude in the face of adversity.
What made you decide to bring this show to Vancouver?
We are always keen to partner with local festivals and arts organizations. This builds our collective impact and ability to bring to Vancouver works of internationally acclaimed artists with unique approaches and voices: risk-taking art which calls for change and reflects the ever-evolving contemporary dance scene globally. It was an easy decision to respond to the Vancouver International Dance Festival’s invitation to partner with them to present this piece, and to continue our connection to Daina.
Anything else we need to know?
This is where I would love to reiterate why I love contemporary dance. Unfortunately, due to lack of space this is not possible! However, I do need to offer up some pointers about the important role of contemporary art and dance in the shaping of our emotions, empathy, and connectivity to the world, to the new and the unknown and yes – increasing tolerance and offering beginnings to new conversations. Contemporary dance is also often about taking a needle to our complacency and taking us out of our comfort zones. We can at this moment be heroes in a risk-taking adventure!
This work is physical, it is just over an hour long; it is not easy but it is poetic in its own way; it contains nudity. But it could be a moment of transformation of your own idea about something in life…there is a lot to take away.
This is live performance – you are seeing a unique art piece each time you see dance unfold in front of you. It never is the same! That is the beauty each time.
Just trust yourself; remember multiple interpretations exist and are valid – so your own interpretation of what you experience is just as valid as mine or the person sitting next to you. It is important to use your senses as this is how we, as humans, process information; allow yourself to accept that awkward can be beautiful.
Contemporary dance is an eclectic form that draws from variety of cultures and movement languages; throw out the usual concept of virtuosity that prevails when speaking of dance – contemporary dance has this too, but it also celebrates simplicity. Contemporary dance – and this work – makes us question, and that place of not knowing and questioning is often the most rewarding.
To ensure that your experience attending this performance is memorable in every way, we continue to provide the safest possible environment. Masks and vaccine cards are mandatory, and with seating for this performance ‘in the round’, capacity is remaining at 50%.
The Dance Centre presents the Global Dance Connections Series
Daina Ashbee: J’ai pleuré avec les chiens (Time, Creation, Destruction)
March 9-12, 2022 | 8pm
Scotiabank Dance Centre
Info and Tickets
Presented with the Vancouver International Dance Festival
Photos: Stephanie Paillet, Patrice Mathieu