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Posted on November 8, 2017 in Curator's Notes
New Zealand’s Adam Hayward on Dance In Vancouver

Once every two years The Dance Centre presents Dance In Vancouver (DIV) which celebrates the energy and innovation of BC’s contemporary dance scene. In addition to shows and public events, DIV draws dance presenters from across Canada and around the world to experience the West Coast dance scene, opening the doors to potential future exchanges, collaborations and tours. The curator of this edition, which takes place November 22-25, is Adam Hayward of Hyde Productions who is based in New Zealand. We caught up with him to get his take on the event:

When did you first come to Vancouver to experience dance?
I first came to Vancouver for the PuSh Festival in 2013, the year Jérôme Bel’s Cédric Andrieux piece and Hiroaki Umeda were co-presented with The Dance Centre.

What were some of your first impressions of the dance scene in Vancouver and how has that changed over the years?
Leading up to the first trip I didn’t know much about dance in Vancouver, I had heard of Kidd Pivot and Company 605 but that’s about it. A big step was coming to The Dance Centre and DIV in 2015 and actually seeing some Vancouver-based dance. It was a very different body of dance to New Zealand but it was really just a further illustration of the fact that bodies are different all over the world, and I found that there was interest in the acknowledgement of that through chats with various dancers. In many ways that shaped this year’s DIV, the openness to question practice.

How do you compare or connect dance in Vancouver to dance in Christchurch New Zealand, where you’re based?
The Indigenous voice is very different. There is a lot more acknowledgement and seamless integration of the Indigenous voice in New Zealand. I know more recently Canada has been really trying to address that issue so it’s a very interesting time for dance in terms of that conversation.

In Vancouver there’s a real interest in examining the product/process, for example looking at what The Dance Centre is doing in acknowledging the need to invest in process. Support at that level for process is not as prevalent in New Zealand, we don’t have a dance centre or a dance house (yet!) so there is a lot of isolation here. The history of dance here in New Zealand has been very product-based as opposed to investment in process.

What were some parameters you set when curating the experience of visiting presenters?
Part of the idea was not just to curate shows in a space but instead curate a journey through four days at DIV. There’s an overarching idea - heavy ground - which is acknowledging the difficult relationship we have with the land that we live on and what our bodies do in relation to that.
Partly influenced by an initial naive impression that the dancer’s body in Canada is very different than the dancer’s body in New Zealand - not just as a symptom of training but cultural identity, geography and the way we inhabit the spaces around us.

In Christchurch, my hometown, fifty percent of the city was demolished due to an earthquake, so for the past six years, that meant that we have really had to address our relationship to space and it became, out of necessity, a very interesting navigation for artist to not have to think about space as a barrier.

Curation was also done very objectively which meant deliberately not talking to anybody that knew the artists. Attempting to use a “beginner’s mind”.

You’re constantly traveling and experiencing dance across the globe, do you see some trends emerging? What’s hot in dance right now?
This is just my opinion, I’m not claiming universals but…

  • Work on the periphery is having a resurgence again. Geographically marginalized work is incredibly interesting and exciting.
  • I see a shift away from being obsessed with product. Work that is challenging the need to show finished performances in front of audiences, it’s about being honest with our audience. I’m getting tired of seeing work that is being put up that is not ready because it has to be for a certain festival. So there is a trend to look at how we label what we’re giving our audiences and trusting our audiences to come along for a journey.
  • And use of space outside of traditional theatres.

The Dance Centre presents The 11th Biennial Dance In Vancouver
November 22-25
Scotiabank Dance Centre, Vancouver

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