Friday, March 18, 2016

Vancouver Dance History (2006-2016): Post 9

Following a debrief of the excellent Exact Vertigo conversation at UNIT/PITT Projects on Wednesday evening, and after a bit of Thursday morning chocolate cake, yesterday Justine and Alexa helped me to record a short movement-based video loop I wished to use as a supplement to an academic paper I'm currently writing. I had brought matching sailor hats for the occasion, though I'm not sure they exactly suited our physical score. We chose to cycle through a few of the poses from the end of the "Duet" section of Yvonne Rainer's Terrain, which she first performed at Judson Church with Trisha Brown, I believe, and which Justine will be reperforming as part of a collaboration with the video artist Evann Siebens this coming Saturday evening. Even with Justine beside me calling out the movements, I was pretty hopeless--but, in terms of my paper, that's partly the illustrative point.

The real challenge will come in the following weeks as we work to develop potential scores for our own project in conjunction with our interviews and writing. As Justine suggested, it makes sense to pursue these tracks together rather than tacking movement on at the very end.

In the second hour we were joined by Delia Brett, the latest Vancouver dance artist to consent to an interview. She shared some amazing stories, including the decision of her ballet teacher that Delia alone among her students was a "modern dancer," and so deserving of extra tutelage in the form--which apparently amounted to biweekly lessons in working with a theraband and flexing her feet. Delia also told us about her first encounter with Peter Bingham, which was when he came to Duncan as part of a theatre festival to give a workshop and chose Delia (who was around 14 at the time) as his demonstration partner for various contact techniques. Delia said that the moment Peter sloughed his body down the side of hers she knew she wanted to trade in her then burgeoning film and television acting career for a life in dance.

This life has meant dancing for a who's who of Vancouver choreographers, culminating in her joining forces with Daelik, following what they dubbed the disastrous "Homewreck" tour, to build MACHiNENOiSY into the company it is today. Along the way there was a hair-raising trip to Belgium in 2003 for a festival of Canadian dance that also involved Justine, and during which Delia's body went into full system collapse. Except for when she was on stage--which Justine confirmed by describing the incredible backbend accompanied by forward tendu that she still remembers Delia performing. And, I should say on this last point, that Delia was incredibly physical over the course of her interview, which gives us some added material to work with.

While Delia expressed a lot of frustration with the dance scene in Vancouver, particularly with respect to its different presentational, institutional, and financial impediments, she also said that she couldn't ever foresee a future where she wasn't dancing. Having just seen her in Bingham's Secret Life of Trees that is something to treasure.


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