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Dance artist, scholar and Dance Centre Associate Artist P. Megan Andrews talks about her career in dance, The Dance Current, and her current practice during these pandemic times:
How did you get involved with dance?
I was born with inwardly rotated legs. My mom thought dance would be better therapy than baby shoes with a bar between them! She started me in Scottish Country dance at age 3 and I began highland a few years later. I started ballet at around age 5 as well. I danced throughout high school and went to York University for contemporary dance and then …
Tell us about your involvement in The Dance Current.
Frankly, it was modeled on [The Dance Centre’s publication] Dance Central. After university, I came back to Vancouver to start my professional career and found Dance Central really helpful to know what was happening in the community. I moved back east after just a couple of years in Vancouver and found nothing of the kind in Toronto, so I consulted with different organizations and artists and then gathered some friends and colleagues to start The Dance Current. I was publisher and founding editor and ran it from my apartment for a long time, in parallel with my freelance performance career. I basically learned as I went along: editing, desktop publishing, subscription database management, bookkeeping, advertising sales, budgeting, grant writing, digital platforms, etc. I was the driver, but many, many, many people participated and contributed. It was/is a huge team effort! At about 15 years, I gradually reduced my involvement and finally left the board at 20 years, though I’m still tangentially connected on certain special projects. Ultimately, it was really important to me that dance in Canada have a regular, tangible presence through writing and serial print publication; that the Canadian dance community be connected and expanded nationally; and that the discourse on dance art, culture and practice be developed and deepened. Of course, the print and digital materials form a major ongoing archive of dance in Canada now as well.
What is the disorientation project?
In this (for now) solo project, I work with scoring structures, multidimensional tasking and perceptual practices that open up lived experiences of disorientation and failure. These themes have emerged in my movement practice and derive from my own history with vertigo, my recent experiences of geographic and psychosomatic relocation, and my reflections on societal changes and challenges that put existing structures (colonial, hierarchical, patriarchal, heteronormative, etc) and ways of being and doing into deep question.
The project explores embodied experiences of disorientation at the perceptual level as a way to excavate new understandings through somatic practice and catalyze public engagement in the personal/social resonances of these experiences through performance. My intent is to acknowledge these experiences as valuable and insightful, rather than to pass over them in a hurry to re-orient and re-stabilize into new configurations and structures, and to emphasize the potential new lines of flight and opportunities for recalibration that lie within.
What was the last thing you were working on before the pandemic?
I was working in residence at The Dance Centre on the disorientation project. Because it’s primarily a solo research project at this stage, and I’m blessed to have the space, I’ve been able to continue working in my backyard at home. Part of the project also involves research with Sarah Chase on her gestural phasing practice. She had been joining me in studio for a weekly session. We’ve mostly managed to continue this work through Facetime and sending videos and written material back and forth.
I had also been planning a conversation series, which I’ve now begun via zoom. It’s a part-curated, part-community-engaged conversation shaped by a text score and some specific commitments. On top of the generous and candid conversation with guests and participants, the experience of facilitating through zoom has generated some very interesting questions and reflections for me around disorientation and perception.
What is your proudest moment to date?
The birth of my daughter.
If you didn’t have a career in dance, what might you be doing?
Orthopedic surgery? Counselling psychotherapy?
What are you doing at home to keep moving and sustain your artistic practice?
Daily – weekdays – I go for a morning run, do a movement meditation with one of Sarah Chase’s phrases and then a bodywork practice based in developmental patterning, Bartenieff Fundamentals and 3D Workout. I also write.
Upcoming online events with Megan:
Photo credits: Courtesy of the artist, Britta Wirthmueller