Monday, April 11, 2016

Vancouver Dance History (2006-2016): Post 12

Today we had MACHiNENOiSY's Daelik in the house, which was the first time in this process we've had a chance to interview the other half of a dance couple, our conversation with Delia Brett having taken place just over three weeks ago. While Delia let us know when she and Daelik started making work together, and when the company was officially incorporated, Daelik filled in some other crucial details. For example, he told us that the idea for the company was first born while Daelik was living in Berlin, and that initially he had thought it would be a project that moved between that city and Vancouver. He also said that the name of the company came from the title of a show that he made in 1997 or 1998 with Antonija Livingstone and Melissa Montgomery as part of the collective Trinkets and Atrocities. Among other things the show, which toured to Seattle, involved Antonija and Daelik eating cake on stage and then throwing up.

Amazingly, this is not the only show Daelik's been in that has involved a cake and someone being sick on stage (albeit in this case unintentionally). He recounted a fantastic story about a performance of Serge Bennathan's "When Grandmothers Fly Away" for Contemporary Dancers. He and Julia Aplin were guest artists in the show, and during this particular performance Julia had the flu; at the end of a solo Julia performs Daelik is meant to carry on a cake, whose candles Julia is supposed to blow out. Except on this evening she rushed to the side of the stage to puke instead. Someone behind Daelik whispered for him to "keep going," and from there it was a frenzy of improvising who does what and when--which included Daelik grabbing a mop and pretending that his cleaning up of Julia's vomit was part of the show.

Daelik suggested he has an uncanny ability to focus during a crisis, and from the stories he told I believe him. Some of these crises have been creative, such as the time when, two days before he was to premiere a work for five men at Dancing on the Edge, one of his dancers had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized; the piece became a quartet overnight. Other crises have been physical, like the time he tore the cartilage in his knee on stage, but kept going. Or an incident Alexa brought up from a story Daelik shared during one of his teaching stints at Modus: riding his bicycle and braking suddenly, Daelik flipped over his handle bars but somehow had enough presence of mind and, more to the point, awareness of his body moving through space, to miraculously land in a seated position on a nearby bench. As Daelik suggested, talking about another time when he intuitively negotiated a collapsing ladder and landed on his bum never the worse for wear, his extensive contact training has taught him not to fear falling and to work with, rather than against, gravity.

And speaking of contact, Daelik also told a moving story about his first professional job dancing for Peter Bingham at EDAM; the piece ended with a duet between himself and Susan Elliott, and on the last evening of the run he was so overcome by emotion that he burst into tears.

Looking to the future, Daelik is hopeful for the creative opportunities that will ideally emerge as a result of MACHiNENOiSY's shared space in Chinatown with plastic orchid factory and Tara Cheyenne Performance. Like Su-Feh last week, he's also heartened by the drive and intelligence and creative energy of the younger generation of dance artists currently making work in the city. As he put it, being an established professional who has slogged for so long in the wilderness of limited resources and indifferent attention, it's easy to be affronted by young upstarts who come along and say, "Whatever, we're going to put on a festival." But then you remember that you did the same thing once.


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