August 2021: Carol Mendes
Who is Carol Mendes in a sentence?
Carol Mendes is a choreographer, dance filmmaker, and dance educator native from Brazil.
Tell us a bit about your work and practice.
My life, my work, and my artistic practice intertwine completely. My dances are the organic result of the collaborative experiences that I had with dancers, mentors, and students throughout my career. But mostly, I am an expatriated individual and the result of a lifetime as a dancer with both many and no countries to call home.
Since arriving in Canada, I decided to focus on teaching and sharing my dance experience in various dance studios. After a couple of years here, and after welcoming my first daughter to the world, I launched the AMOK PROJECT, with a tiny group of emerging dancers. I am so proud of this new artistic endeavor, and I can’t wait to start sharing more of it with our dance community. This is the result of many years of living and breathing dance.
How long have you been dancing?
My professional career spans over 25 years of performance, choreography, and teaching. Let’s just say that I am not too young and I’m not too old, but I’ve lost the exact count.
How does dance fit into your life currently?
I am always interested in creating expressive dances with physical vigor, that push the boundaries of movement creation. I am currently focused on helping bridge the gap between dancers’ formational years and their professional pursuits. Mentoring emerging artists and creating a rich collaborative environment in my work is part of my newest dance project and a fundamental staple in my life.
How would you describe dance’s impact on your life?
My life was, is, and continues to be dance.
How are you spending your time during the Covid pandemic?
It is actually quite interesting to look back and see how this pandemic fostered change and rebirth. I noticed that during the beginning of the pandemic I got really inspired by all the incredible work that the dance community put together to survive these difficult times. It was amazing to see dance taking the digital space with more boldness, and the international community getting closer amid a common hardship.
In spite of the constant fear surrounding the Covid pandemic, I was lucky to be able to reinvent myself as an artist, to watch lots of dance, catch up on reading, and spend quality time with my small family bubble. I did my best to stay strong and healthy, and though some days were bleak and dark, I now have a better understanding of my priorities.
What three core values drive your engagement with dance?
Relationships, change, and truth.
Do you have a particular practice that you carry out each day or have you implemented new practices in adapting to the current climate?
I used to have a breathing and strengthening set of exercises that helped maintain my dance training. But as I shifted my career, navigated motherhood and the pandemic, I find that the most important thing for me is to stay inspired. Not doing too many things, but one thing that’s meaningful a day is enough.
What would you say are the most significant benefits to being a Dance Centre member?
It is an absolute privilege to spend creative time in a dance studio and I’ve never taken it for granted. The Dance Centre and it’s staff were able to navigate the up and downs of the pandemic with open communication and were always willing to take me and my dancers when it was safe to do so. I truly appreciate how welcoming everyone is there and how they’re willing to support the dance community.
Interested in becoming a Dance Centre Member? Learn more here
Photos by Kylie Miller and Nicholas Garcia