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Posted on November 29, 2017 in Artists-in-Residence
Celebrating Differences in Dance

The Dance Centre Blog Accessibility Research

In this guest post, Naomi Brand writes about the work she is developing during our DanceLab interdisciplinary research program:

This week I begin the exciting task of transforming a project from a hypothetical endeavour that has existed only in my imagination (and grant proposals) to a real-life activity. The project is called Translations and it is an ambitious collaboration between me, All Bodies Dance Project and Vocal Eye.

All Bodies Dance Project is an integrated dance company made up of dancers with and without disabilities and Vocal Eye provides live description of visual elements of performance or artworks for blind or partially sighted persons. Translations will explore how live description can be applied to the abstract movement of contemporary dance. We will investigate how to “translate” a visual experience of dance into language, into touch and into a different way to conceive of audiencing by asking “What senses do we rely on in the role of audiencing?”

The first phase of Translations begins as a DanceLab Residency at Scotiabank Dance Centre for two weeks of pure research with a team of sixteen collaborating artists. As in any creative endeavour, starting is the hardest and most important step and in this case simply getting everyone in the studio together is a first step full of significance. Never before has there been a group of artists with disabilities, blind artists, describers and “typical” dancers working together at Scotiabank Dance Centre. It’s not who people typically think of as the makers of dance in Vancouver nor is the practice we will undertake together what typically occurs behind the closed doors of the Birmingham, the Jarislowsky or the Marcuse studios. And this is exactly the point.

My work with All Bodies Dance Project involves an active challenging of my biases about who is a “dancer” and who might care about dance. The company’s work celebrates and exploits (as opposed to denying) differences for their artistic potential. Translations derives from a desire to re-think how dance could be experienced by diverse audiences, audiences that don’t all look, move, or perceive the world in the same way. We will explore how to create dance that is not only seen but also heard, felt, described and experienced in different ways. This research hopes to impact our community’s thinking about who dance doesn’t reach, who dance could reach and how it could have a broader reach if we shifted the way we make it and present it. For me and for my collaborators that starts with inviting difference into the room to make the dance in the first place.

Translations is made possible with the support from the Canada Council for the Arts and BC Arts Council. I am grateful to The Dance Centre for this opportunity to start this process at the DanceLab.

The Dance Centre Studio Showing
DanceLab: Naomi Brand
Thurs Dec. 8 2017 | 12noon – 1pm
Free | All welcome
Scotiabank Dance Centre

Photo: Yvonne Chew


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