Participants in The Dance Centre’s Yulanda M. Faris Choreographers Program (YFCP) embarked on the final leg this spring. Following a visit to Montreal’s FTA International Dance and Theatre Festival and a trip to the Netherlands where they attended Festival Cement, Vanessa Goodman, Daina Ashbee and Justine A. Chambers share some of their artistic impressions:
The last two legs of travel for the Yulanda M. Faris Choreographers Program have been incredibly rewarding. The Netherlands offered different perspectives on collaborating with presentation and support service organizations. It was inspiring to see how Kristin de Groot (Rotterdam, DansAtelier) and Heleen Volman (Tilburg, Dans Brabant) both approach collaboration with artists, challenging them while simultaneously supporting them. We saw work at the Cement Festival in Den Bosch and the Moving Futures Festival in Rotterdam. A highlight of the trip was seeing 'Being' twice, by Bára Sigfúsdóttir, Masoumeh Jalalieh and Seyed Alireza Mirmohammadi. I saw this work once in Tilburg during a workshop that I participated in, facilitated by Guy Cools, and the second time in Den Bosch as part of Cement. This is a very moving work that explores and subverts power dynamics, oppression and gender. I also spent some time in Brussels afterwards and was fortunate to hear Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker speak. One of my favourite moments in the interview was when she quoted Deborah Hay's demand to "turn your fucking head!" This brought me back directly to my body and experience, and how we live through different voices during our training at different times. For me, it also highlighted how we are all glued to our screens and missing out on what is around us.
Following this, I spent a month in research here in Vancouver at Scotiabank Dance Centre with a lovely group of collaborating artists: Shion Skye Carter, Stéphanie Cyr, Bynh Ho, Alexa Mardon and Lexi Vajda. We dove into new ideas and ways of working. It is always grounding to be working in the studio, and it has a way of recharging my batteries.
FTA in Montreal was fantastic. We saw some amazing work and had incredible conversations with so many artists and curators. Being there was inspiring on many levels: we saw works from new artists, friends, dance icons and peers working through their questions performatively.
It was also so great to see familiar faces from the other experiences we have had this year at Canada Dance Festival, Dance In Vancouver, the PuSh Festival and Victoria Dance Days. Reconnecting with people is a fantastic gift that this program has provided. Continuing conversations and sharing ideas with new colleagues is exciting and enriching.
This year has offered so much in regards to challenging my practice. We saw a range of works from artists at different points in their careers, from large-scale productions to intimate DIY pieces. It often feels like a fast-track learning experience each time we are at a new festival, seeing up to 20 works in a week. Whenever there has been a moment of downtime this year it has been great to reflect on the work I have been able to witness through this program, as it has offered me so many new questions that I want to investigate in my practice.
I would like to take this time to say thank you to the Faris family, The Dance Centre and all the partners who have made this possible. As we move into the final phases of this program, I carry each one of these beautiful experiences with me, and I keep learning from each person and work we have had the pleasure of experiencing.
One of the more nourishing of our gatherings, Cement in Holland. It was great to witness how artists were supported and given time and long-term support. I think this exists in a lot of places – long-term commitment and support - but it should be nurtured from both sides, it takes both sides’ commitment and investment to the relationship. The programme had its ranges. I felt the strength of Cement was Heleen's organization, having everything prepared for us, the care she put into meeting us and communicating with us throughout. I felt she took the time to have meals, tea, chats and check-ins. Line Rousseau also showed a lot of organization and care in what she shared with us which was valuable information about the industry and work with agents and producers. Furthermore, she extended this by inviting us to have lunch and discussions with her.
Montreal FTA was powerful and rich as always. I enjoyed seeing many friends and colleagues and making some new connections. The pieces I most enjoyed were Jefta Van Dinder's Dark Field Analysis which I had already seen once in Berlin, and Oblivion by Sarah Vanhee which was also a second time watch, I saw it in Marseille. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed both pieces for my second time.
Justine A. Chambers
The Last Leg and Friendship
Reflecting back at the eight days at FTA is a meditation on friendship. As I move through each day in my mind, it is framed or centred on friends - seeing friends perform, meeting friends for a meal, having planned visits or quick hugs between events. Close friends, quick friends, friends of friends I’ve been meaning to meet for years, friends I am just beginning to know, friends who I only encounter at festivals or while touring, and friends who are very dear to me but I seldom see.
Below is an incomplete list of the friends who flooded me with energy, love and inspiration during the FTA.
In order of appearance:
Justin De Luna
Marie Claire Forte
Jean Benoit Lebrecque