Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Vancouver Dance History (2006-2016): Post 2

Yesterday's meeting with Justine and Alexa at The Dance Centre was as meandering and cross-hatched with digressions as the network of dance-based connections in Vancouver that we are trying to map. We talked as much about Justine's dance history teacher at Ryerson and how she (Justine, that is) once hung upside down for 14 hours for David Bowie in LA as we did about how come Alexa and I never crossed paths in the English Department at SFU (mostly night classes in Victorian lit and creative writing on Alexa's part being the answer). But such conversations, along with those about who in the city has danced on cruise ships and the coincidence of bumping into Jay Hirabayashi's ex-wife on Vancouver Island, are precisely the affective weave we are trying to capture in some way in our otherwise documentary discourse of what happened when, where, and with whom--the registering of ordinary events and sedimented memories (a hug in a lobby, a coffee after class at Harbour Dance) that we measure not so much through their historical importance as their felt intensity. As Justine put it, we are seeking "the residue of what has happened in [Vancouver's dance] spaces, and how it still sits there."

Indeed, we're not interested in telling a definitive history of the last decade of dance in this city (with the authoritativeness of any such account being of the absolute least concern to all of us). Instead, we see ourselves opening up a window on how a community has constituted itself--and as much through social and interpersonal relationships as through dance training and technique. Of course, the whole point is that the former are inseparable from the latter, something that the dance scholar Judith Hamera has wonderfully demonstrated in her book on "dancing communities" in LA. Her ideas on the "relational infrastructure" and "mobile intimacies" engendered through dance training and performance and spectatorship (with touchstone moments for audience members also being a crucial part of our rhizomatic equation) will be a possible model for us.

That said, we did make some progress on an informal structure for our interview subjects. At present, we're thinking that it will in fact follow something of a who, what, when, where, why format: who you've trained with, danced for, danced with, created with; what work you've made/been in that's especially meaningful; when you arrived in the city and/or started dancing/making work here; and, to be sure, WHY VANCOUVER? But, again, the apparent forensic thrust of these questions isn't really the main point. We just want to get people talking and see where the narratives overlap--and diverge. Those interstices--who and what gathers in them--is what we're after.

Justine has sent out the first wave of interview requests, and the response has been quite positive. Stay tuned for further updates.


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