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Our Executive Director Mirna provides some insights into choreographer Meagan O’Shea and Anatomalia, an adventurous international collaboration coming up November 16-18 as part of our Global Dance Connections series.
Who is Meagan O’Shea?
Meagan is a Canadian interdisciplinary artist whose works are rooted in contemporary dance practice, but intersect across several disciplines and aesthetics as well. Her own practice occurs across borders, as well as disciplines. She divides her time between creating new works, performing, training, teaching and collaborating with artists across North America and Europe.
When and how did you first connect with her?
I would say Meagan connected to me, as she approached The Dance Centre with ideas and projects. I remember I was struck by her infectious enthusiasm for everything she does. There is an urgency to reach and touch as many as she can through her works. She is a witty, creative, uber-dynamic person that wants to share her passion for dance and the arts with everyone she encounters.
Meagan is also very engaged around social and political issues and aims to make a positive impact. She builds community around her and the work, and the work stems from these interactions.
How would you describe Stand Up Dance’s work?
It is a queer-led and driven organization, which deeply cares for the burning issues impacting not only queer communities but humanity in general. The company’s work is about engaging and building community around care and issues that impact our lives, seeking to engage with people regardless of ethnicity, gender expression, sexual orientation, physical abilities, neurodiversity, social conditions – really anyone who cares about the world around us, and is willing to share their stories and experiences. Stand Up is a company that expands with participants wherever it tours.
What kind of show is Anatomalia?
Meagan describes Anatomalia as a passionate collective healing of the damage done to ‘femalia’ – not only sexual violence, but also all abusive, derogatory, systemic and historic damage. The show aims to lead us through the residue of trauma to freedom, and to celebrate joy, resilience and hope.
Perhaps it would best be to describe the show as an event, a series of choreographic miniatures. The installations take shape through five dance artists who embody a vision and a sense of tactile possibilities, a designed experience if you will that changes depending on your vantage point. This is a promenade-style performance where the audience can move around the space. Seating will also be available.
There is also a local ‘chorus’ comprised of members of Rainbow Refugee, a Vancouver-based organization supporting refugees fleeing persecution for their sexual orientation, gender identity or characteristics, and HIV status.
What made you decide to bring this show to Vancouver?
It is an unusual and innovative performance. It is a coming together of a spectrum of seemingly opposing notions, ideas ranging from trauma to joy to collective healing. I feel that the past several years, especially with the pandemic where we turned inward, have resulted in quite a bit of damage for many people. Increasing global antagonism, microaggressions in our midst, the negating of decades of female struggles to assert our worth resulting in the taking away of things that we have been taking for granted.
Anatomalia has evolved into an invitation and a collective call to action – to change the outer world, but also contribute to more internal changes that contribute to personal growth and confidence as individuals.
Anything else we need to know?
The themes touched upon in the work and through the creative process are really the challenges and thoughts I believe we struggle with daily. We yearn to change; we want to the world to change and there is a need for social justice to be reaffirmed. We need spaces to express and celebrate our individualities and that of others.
The whole process has been fueled through the notion of slow touring: a process of extended residencies and finding ways of working with artists across different locations, and then coming together in person. The time in Vancouver is extended compared to what usually is the case for visiting projects as the work comes together and the artists desire to engage with the local community. I hope that Vancouverites will respond to the invitation!
The Dance Centre presents the Global Dance Connections Series
Stand Up Dance: Anatomalia
November 16-18, 2023 | 8pm
Scotiabank Dance Centre
Explore dance performances currently presented by The Dance Centre. Each season, you’ll find new dance shows. See what’s on today.
Photos: Tristan Perez-Martin and courtesy of the artist