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Dance artists Ted Littlemore, Zahra Shahab, Eowynn Enquist, and Avery Smith discuss the work they have been developing during 12 Minutes Max. They will share the works in a studio showing on April 16 at 6pm.
I have been practicing drag since 2013. In the last four years, I have woven contemporary dance into that practice, as well. I’m challenged by the tension between these disparate disciplines, but also surprised to find real opportunities to employ my drag training in contemporary dance applications.
Accordingly, I have begun this project to re-imagine drag in a non-bar setting. I am exploring what changes when take drag from a liquor-primary room with no fourth wall into a space of quieter reflection. What can I do in a studio that I can’t in a high-stimulus club environment (and vice versa)? What conventions must I honour in a traditional theatre? Part of drag’s appeal is its essential indulgence—the deep, shameless, and welcome pandering to the crowd. How can I honour this approachability, while still testing what drag and contemporary dance each need to be – and can be to each other?
Drag is increasingly popular, and I love that its gathering appeal opens the door to new interpretations and innovations. It’s an exciting time to explore the facets of drag performance, because of its current relatability and malleability. As an emerging artist in the world of contemporary dance, I’m excited at the feedback possibilities and the networking potential of presenting my work as a performer and choreographer in a new sphere of artists.
In a contemporary work, I’m often surprised by how quickly 12 minutes flies by. At the same time, in drag, I usually work to the length of a single song – plus or minus 3 minutes. Against that standard, 12 minutes can last forever.
I am asking how I can transform the performer’s body to illustrate a fantastical character. How can I generate a process in the studio that allows dancers to inhabit the body of a character, and then make behavioral decisions from that character? What is the liminal space of the performer in flux between two identities, two characters? I am interested in the fantastical because of the possibility it provides for queering identity. I want to create identities that aren’t stable or concrete, but only defined by their morphological transformations, for me this relates to queerness. Ideally, fantasy means there are no normative ways of existing and relating, and this can make space for alternative ways of relating to oneself, to another, to the environment. I am making this up as I go along, and searching my assumptions of what ‘fantastical’ means. I am looking for ways that the performer can build up a new identity and then leave it as soon as it begins to crystalize. I am inspired by the fantastical creatures of Studio Ghilbi (Hayao Miyazaki) and I am searching for ways to bring the qualities of these animations into movement.
As collaborators, Isak Enquist and I are working on working. Our differences, our similarities, our imaginings, our bias, our natures all come together to ask these questions:
What is the makeup of impulse?
Is there duality without symmetry?
Is there tension between the two dances?
Do they mean something together that is different than their independent actions?
Eowynn: Within the 12 Minute Max platform, we are working as collaborators on two solos to be performed simultaneously. While crafting these solos we look to stay curious with each impulse, challenging ourselves from the inside or as an outside eye to continue the development of an action. I imagine when we share this research the dance will be somewhat of an impulse-based patchwork. Discovering and uncovering movement patterns, expression, and theme; while reflecting on the influence that already inhabits each of us as movers, performers, and creators.
Isak: For myself as a collaborator, the project of 12 Minutes Max began with creating an original sound score, as I find such usefulness in the negotiation of sound and movement in a creative process. I am often working with pre-recorded sound from other sources, composers, and artists. Working with these sounds, abstracting or otherwise dissolving each track until I can develop an intimate connection with the material. Manipulation of sound is directly connected to state; a communication between the body and the space it inhabits. I believe that I search for movement in similar ways, acknowledging that everything is an influence from something. My previous experience holds record in my habitual movement, biased, disguised like choices. I am hesitant to say that I am generating new movement, only a record of physical experiences that I have developed an intimate connection with.
I’m using this opportunity to research a self-performed solo that aims to simultaneously deconstruct and celebrate my body’s habits and patterns. Through this research I have found myself unpacking what it means to be and feel at home in my body. I am using the worn-in patterning in my body as material to generate movement in the hopes of communicating the intimacy of this feeling of home. My process has consisted of identifying my personal movement habits and tendencies and using these to create improvisational scores. From here, I generated specific physical tasks to create a choreographed sequence of movement. I am tangling unnatural precision with natural flow and working to find the nuance and capacity that restrictive ways of moving can provide. Teaching myself my tendencies and my comfort zones has been a surprisingly challenging process. I have been confronted with the restricting nature of the things that I consider uniquely me. I have also found that through analyzing and deconstructing my habits, they are inevitably altered. The natural ways that I move my body have become unknown and unnatural and I’m interested in communicating this transformation.
This has been a process of investing in what is already there; the things that have been living there for years; the things that may have been begrudged or unappreciated. I am exploring my body’s intuition in order to discover more about its history and its possible futures. I haven’t been challenged to work within the twelve-minute time limit but have been challenged by keeping my process additive in order to generate material.
12 Minutes Max Studio Showing
Tuesday April 16, 2019 at 6pm
Scotiabank Dance Centre
Photo Credits: Ted Littlemore/Elizabeth Littlemore; Oksana Hayduk and Alder Sherwood/Zahra Shahab; Isak and Eowynn Enquist/Erik Zennström; Avery Smith/ Daniel Thiessen
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