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April 2022: Olivia C. Davies
Who is Olivia C. Davies in a sentence?
I am a contemporary Indigenous dance artist and curator of the Matriarchs Uprising festival.
Tell us a bit about your work and practice.
My current practice is embedded with the lived experience of motherhood, and the changing, aging body that supports me. I honor my cultural heritage as a mixed-race Anishinaabe-Kwe and my artistic heritage of growing up in major cities surrounded by the influences of avant-garde music, visual art, film, and fashion. The shift brought about by the pandemic and concurrent life changes has opened opportunities for learning and establishing new ways of working. These include choreographic collaborations with Squamish playwright, Justin Neal on the production “So Damn Proud” that premiered in September 2021, as well as developing two new VR/AR creations with 25-year veteran of immersive technology experiences, Athomas Goldberg from Pepper’s Ghost Collective. I am grateful to be able to continue working with Raïna Von Waldenburg as a mentor on a solo project in development along with curating Matriarchs Uprising festival and Talking Truths circle conversations with presentation partners.
How long have you been dancing?
I think I started dancing in utero in my mother’s belly as she was a big music fan. She put me into Ballet and Tap classes as soon as I could walk. By the math, I’ve been dancing all my life!
How would you describe dance’s impact on your life?
As a young child, I always felt most at home when I was dancing. This feeling has stayed with me all my life, even now as I’m nearing middle age. Whether I was in the dance studio taking lessons or in my living room making up dances with my friends, I was always looking for the next chance to move. As a choreographer today, I see the potential dance has to express human emotion and reach beyond words to transmit poetry and narrative, and on the other hand, that the world around us is constantly changing and evolving in its own dance. I believe that our natural world is animated with a life force that extends beyond the movement we can see and hear to a dance we can feel in our hearts that connects us to all beings. Dance has been and always will be my saving grace.
What three core values drive your engagement with dance?
Generosity drives my desire to collaborate with other artists in ways that feed my artistic curiosities and generate new ways of experiencing the world around us through dance. I would have to say that both love and respect are crucial to these engagements to ensure the integrity of the collaboration and the impulse for creating are honored throughout the process.
What would you say are the most significant benefits for you in being a Dance Centre member?
Being a Dance Centre member means I am part of a larger community of dance artists, supporters and patrons who believe in the importance of dance. Over the past ten years, I have been largely supported by the Dance Centre’s programs and opportunities for professional advancement including the successful launch of the Matriarchs Uprising Festival in 2019. Now, four years later, I am so happy we we’re able to gather together again in person at the Dance Centre in February 2022 for our week-long festival of Masterclasses, workshops, and two live performances from choreographers Maura Garcia and Jeanette Kotowich. I am grateful for the support the Dance Centre has shown to the Indigenous dance milieu in creating and producing our work in the space and know that the benefits are far-reaching to the deep and meaningful engagement with our audiences and the larger dance community.
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?
The building has been a home away from home for me since 2011. The impact this building has had on my ability to create, perform and grow my networks is immeasurable. Congratulations on 20 fabulous years!
Interested in becoming a Dance Centre Member? Learn more here
Photos: Mika Manning and Dayna Szyndrowski