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Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award recipient Jamie Robinson is presenting her first full-length ensemble creation, Paradise Replica, August 20-September 3. We sat down with her (virtually!) to discuss her career, the inspiration behind the work, and how the pandemic affected her plans for the piece.
Tell us about your dance career to date.
I grew up out east and first started taking Highland dance around age six or seven. Eventually, my family moved to BC and I started studio dance (ballet, jazz, etc). I was already starting to be drawn to choreography at that time. I had a lot of opinions about the dance I was seeing and the practice I was existing inside of, I just had no idea what to do with them.
I joined Modus Operandi shortly after moving to Vancouver and it was the first place I was really introduced to contemporary dance. For the first time I was aware of how many approaches there could be to the choreographic process. During my time there I was choreographing whenever I had the chance, eventually I was given the opportunity to create a commissioned short film for F-O-R-M which was my first time working with other dance artists. It was very much me trying to make what I thought maybe I should be making but, at the time, I learned more about how I wanted to work.
After leaving Modus, I participated in Dance Victoria’s Emerging Choreographer Program, Adelheid’s re:research, and Toronto Dance Theatre’s Emerging Voices Project which gave me a chance to start finding my interests.
I’ve since worked with Company 605 as associate artist and have been working towards the completion of this project which, in many ways, feels like the accumulation of all these experiences so far.
What inspired your new work, Paradise Replica?
Initially, I was reading Simone Weil and became really interested in her approach to spirituality through a void. It was at a time when I was dealing with an incredible amount of change around me and this idea of moving through a state of nothingness to connect to something new was really exciting. I was wondering what movement could offer in terms of getting someone there. Can someone fall away inside of movement to emerge something new or in connection to something ‘greater’?
Once I started working in the studio with Kate Franklin, Avery Smith, Jessica Wilkie, and Shion Carter it somehow felt important to build this experience as something intending to be shared. We didn’t have access to touch or getting close to each other so I think finding a new way to connect felt imperative.
What has receiving the Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award meant to you as an artist?
This award has supported me in creating my first ensemble full-length which has offered me a deeper understanding into how I’m interested in working and what I value choreographically. It has tied me to an interest through an incredibly challenging and transformative moment in time which has taught me a lot about myself and the realities of dance creating.
If you didn’t have a career in dance, what might you be doing?
Maybe working with film in some way.
How have you adapted your practice during the pandemic?
This work was initially intended for live performance so adapting to film has been a huge learning curve and grieving process. So much of the work I’m excited by choreographically relies on connection to experience, a connection that just isn’t as palpable through a screen. Knowing that, we’re aiming to use film as a way to offer the audience their own experience mimicking what we were working towards inside of the work.
Streaming on Demand: Friday August 20 – Friday September 3 2021 | 5pm PDT
Presented through the Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award.
Buy Tickets Here
Photos: Caleb Ford, Shay Saver