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Posted on February 17, 2016 in Artists-in-Residence
We're Making a Band

We're Making a Band

In recent weeks Dance Centre Artist-in-Residence Justine A. Chambers has been working on We’re Making a Band, a research project devised with musician Ben Brown, and here she shares some of the ideas, images and artists involved:

We’re Making a Band is a research project developed by Ben Brown and me. Our original proposition was about the idiomatic movements of drummers, specifically how the physical approach to the drum kit may (or may not) be defined by gender. As we began to work there was a shift away from the questions around gender and we rested up on the movements of the body in relation to the kit framed by specific manipulations of rhythmic phrases. Dancers and drummers are interchangeable, the question of sound is moot and the unconscious movements of the body take precedent.

We’re Making a Band
Research by Justine A. Chambers & Ben Brown
On drums: Mili Hong, Kevin Li, Joy Mullen and Ashley Whitehead
With guests: Colin Cowan (bass) and Dominic Conway (saxophone)

About the artists:

Ben Brown is a Vancouver-based musician, composer and teacher. Recent highlights include an 8-month solo tour of Europe/the US where Brown collaborated with musicians and dancers and studied privately with master percussionist, Dame Evelyn Glennie. As a drummer, Brown has performed with musicians such as Francois Houle, Tony Wilson, Veda Hille, Wilbert De Joode, Ig Henneman, K-OS and Jill Barber. In April 2013 he received a Juno Award for Best Instrumental Album of the year with the group, Pugs and Crows. Brown regularly collaborates with dancers and choreographers and has worked with Katie Duck, Justine Chambers, Lee Su-Feh and Kenny Pearl. He is the founder of Music And Movement Mondays (MAMM), a weekly collaborative series between live musicians and dancers. His compositional practice includes commissioned musical pieces for both dance and film. Brown's dance compositions have been featured at festivals in Vancouver, Toronto and Mexico.  For more information please visit

Mili Hong began playing drums at the age of 16. She spent most of her life in South Korea until her early 20s, when she moved to Vancouver to study English and Music. Although she originally planned to move back to Korea after completing her studies, she decided to remain in Vancouver to experiment and explore her new life in Canada’s thriving and diverse music scene. At Capilano University she received a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies, majoring in Instrumental Performance and played in various ensembles from small combos to big bands which exposed her to numerous chances to explore different styles of drumming, while also studying with drum instructors Graham Boyle, Blain Wikjord, Dave Robbins, and Dylan van der Schyff. While playing in Capilano University’s “A” band, under the direction of Juno award-winning Brad Turner, she had the chance to play with notable guest artists such as Ian Froman, Mike Murley, and Randy Brecker. Mili is becoming an important member of Vancouver’s Jazz scene through her playing in the Leo Bae Trio and the Eli Davidovici Band, but has also been involved in her alternative rock project, Moondle. Her lifetime goal is to continue learning about her art and herself through her continuous study of music and language.

Kevin Shazam Li is a dancer, teacher, and movement artist of various disciplines. Specializing in tutting, hip hop and contemporary, Kevin uses his art form as a means of expression and teaches others to help them find a similar passion in dance. He has trained with one of the most famous urban dance companies in Vancouver, SOULdiers, which has made him a regular performer, choreographer and competitor at various dance events in the Lower Mainland. Currently he is training in contemporary and ballet at local contemporary dance training program Modus Operandi. Kevin's goal is to further perfect his skills and to bring different disciplines together.

Joy Mullen, AKA Joy On Drums, grew up in the Okanagan area and spent her formative years studying dance, music and theatre and began playing drums at age 11. Since moving to Vancouver she has been touring Canada, the United States and Europe and has kept busy recording many albums and maintaining an active freelance career. She works with diverse artists including: Cris Derksen, esl, Joyce Collingwood, Christa Couture, The Doers and Miss Quincy. She performed on the CBC miniseries 8th Fire soundtrack, and toured with dance/theatre production Weskayjack, and is one of the founding organizers for Girls Rock Camp Vancouver, a non-profit organization aimed at building self-esteem in young girls. In the summer she keeps busy touring the folk festival circuit, and when she is not on the road she teaches drums and curates live music series, festivals and regularly hosts house concerts.

Ashley Whitehead is a Vancouver-based contemporary dance artist, actor and clown. She has always been a highly physical person and performer, and after an extensive history in gymnastics and commercial dance she formed questions and motives in her movement that brought her towards the limitless possibilities of contemporary dance. Ashley spent four years studying with Modus Operandi, a contemporary dance training initiative through Out Innerspace Dance Theatre. Ashley has had the pleasure of working with many local or international artists including Deanna Peters, Emmalena Fredriksson, Isabelle Kirouac Arevalo, and Daisy Thompson. Through an extensive interest in improvisation, Ashley has extended her training to include Contact Improvisation and acting techniques including Improv, Grotowski, and most recently Clowning with David MacMurray Smith. She has also completed an extensive mentorship with Serge Bennathan, thanks to the BC Arts Council. Ashley consistently performs through collaborative works with local artists and choreographers, improvisation based performances, and in her own work, which has led her to an interest in solo character work. Ashley has presented work in Art for Impact, Bloom, and BC Buds, and is currently working on crossing her interests from dance, clowning, and spatial design, developing her voice in unconventional settings and performances.

Saxophonist Dominic Conway was born and raised in Vancouver. He began studying music at age 11 and started playing professionally at age 18. From early roots in R&B music, Dominic has carved out a career as an in-demand freelance musician in a variety of genres in addition to being a founding member of several local bands including Malleus Trio, We Just Stole A Car and Big Fate. His education includes time in Vancouver Community College’s Music Studies Program as well as a lengthy and ongoing apprenticeship with noted saxophone master Stan Karp. Dominic’s long running musical affiliation with Ben Brown has seen him involved in a number of live music/dance collaborations in recent years including MAMM (Music And Movement Mondays) and the Community Stages project.

Colin Cowan appears to be well-immersed in many sectors of both the Vancouver and national music/arts scene. He was originally born in New Brunswick, and since leaving at the age of 18, has lived, performed, collaborated and studied many realms of music and performance art for more extended periods in Toronto, Halifax, California, London (UK), Germany, and Australia. He took place in an array of exciting international festivals, programs, and workshops during those years. Some of those credits include studying brief contrabass lessons with New York's Mark Helias, taking a residence at The Banff Centre, learning and performing at Toronto's The Second City, producing a month long five star rated show the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and playing main stage at UK's Glastonbury Music Festival. Bands he currently plays basses with locally & internationally include Sun Ra's Stars System, DADA PLAN, Tiny Pyramids, Black Mountain, Woodpigeon, Dalava, Aram Bajakian Trio, Tishomingo String Band,  Moriarty Trio, The Acid Witch, Jenn Bojm, and Rob Butterfield. Cowan plays The Guitar/song-writes/sings/produces records independently in only one project: his band Colin Cowan & The Elastic Stars. He also happens to be Creator/Manager/Curator/Permanent Resident Artist of China Cloud Studios.


We're Making a Band is open for public viewing Thursday February 18, 2016, 10.30am-12 noon at Scotiabank Dance Centre: all welcome.



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