January 2022: Francesca Frewer
Who is Francesca Frewer in a sentence?
I’m a contemporary dance artist, guest on these unceded Coast Salish territories.
Tell us a bit about your work and practice.
I believe live performance has the potential to be a powerful and beautiful gateway into a deeper experience of ourselves, and of the unique, unrepeatable, both fleeting and never-ending present moment. My work is grounded heavily in improvisation, which I am interested in because it welcomes and works with the unknown, because it celebrates autonomy and agency, and because it opens a door to each performer’s unique humanity.
What I am looking for when I go to see live performance is to be moved, and to feel that in the context of a shared, collective experience. It’s a tall order to show up at the studio to work on something and ask myself, ‘Okay how am I going to move people?’ And of course, working towards that is complex, and involves all kinds of tools, techniques, devices, etc. And of course, I’ll often fail. But by grounding my practice in an effort to be in the reality of this unique present moment — how I am experiencing it, who is here, what is the energy of the audience, where are we, how is the exchange between us unfolding — and to work towards that special thing I am hoping to create from this place, my hope is that I can make an invitation to the audience to enter the experience of witnessing from a place that is more open than how we usually move through the world. And that feels like a pretty good place to start from.
I’d like to say that so much of the values that make dance meaningful for me are things I have come to through working and practicing with my dear collaborators Erika Mitsuhashi and Alexa Mardon, as well as many others in the community. Though I like to keep the moment of performance in mind throughout creative process, I believe that engaging in practice for its own sake is where so much magic happens, magic that becomes the groundwork for the emergence of something special in the moment of performance. And I am super grateful to get to practice with such a beautiful community of artists here in Vancouver.
How long have you been dancing?
Since I was a child, but in the way that is meaningful to me now, for about 10 years.
How does dance fit into your life currently?
In so many different ways, and it’s definitely a continuous evolution. I dance with others, I dance alone, I take class, I teach class, I perform. Whatever the context, dance is for me this beautiful teacher — it gives me the chance to work on being more grounded in myself and to meet others from that place, it reveals things to me about myself, it teaches me to look. And it lets me do all this with my body, with my whole self. Which feels pretty special.
How would you describe dance’s impact on your life?
I don’t think I could really say how it impacts because it doesn’t feel like a separate thing. It’s a complex relationship that is reflective of myself and my engagement with the world in different ways at different moments.
What three core values drive your engagement with dance?
Honesty, care, generosity
What would you say are the most significant benefits for you in being a Dance Centre member?
Well, I am very excited to be presenting a new work at Scotiabank Dance Centre in July 2022! It has been wonderful to have the support of The Dance Centre in this project, which is in collaboration with Alexa Mardon and Erika Mitsuhashi. Spending time at Scotiabank Dance Centre for so many different things — rehearsing, training, teaching, seeing shows — and to do those things in a place where so many other people are engaging their practice concurrently, highlights the community aspect for me, and I value that so much.
This year, we are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Scotiabank Dance Centre. What impact do you feel the building has had on the dance community, our city, and/or your own practice?
It’s such an important place for the Vancouver community, and passing through there for so many different things over the years, it holds parts of my personal history that are with me wherever I go, whatever spaces I am in. I think that the efforts put into showcasing the Vancouver dance scene on the international stage and bringing international artists here to present their work and share their practices, has made a meaningful impact on the community and on local artists’ work and trajectories.
Interested in becoming a Dance Centre Member? Learn more here
Photos: Cara Tench, courtesy of the artist