Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Vancouver Dance History (2006-2016): Post 35

Earlier this afternoon Kim Stevenson dropped by my SFU Woodward's office to share with me her Vancouver dance history. Like Molly McDermott and Deanna Peters and others, Kim came to the dance program at SFU via Grant MacEwan College in Edmonton, where she was heavily influenced by the teaching and mentorship of Brian Webb and Heidi Bunting. Arriving at SFU in 2005, Kim immediately connected with the aesthetic of my colleague, Rob Kitsos, and post-graduation she has continued to dance regularly for him--most recently in Death and Flying at the Vancouver International Dance Festival (about which I have blogged in greater detail here).

In addition to apprenticing with and dancing for the likes of Susan Elliott and Barbara Bourget and Serge Bennathan, Kim also joined with Molly, Cort Gerlock, Roxoliana Prus, and Ellen Luchkow to form the collective The Story of Force in Motion, commissioning work from Deanna Peters, Heidi Bunting, Shauna Elton, and also creating their own work. Most recently Tara Cheyenne Friendenberg has been a major influence on the direction of Kim's career. After appearing briefly in an excerpt of Highgate at Dance in Vancouver several years ago, Kim apprenticed with Tara as part of the process for Porno Death Cult. And she has been part of all three versions of How to Be: at the Anderson Street Space on Granville Island; at Dancing on the Edge a couple of years ago; and at the premiere of the full version of the work at the Cultch this past April. While I couldn't see the latter version, I have closely watched the evolution of this piece and I told Kim that her facility with text and movement was just amazing to watch, and also that her humour just slayed me. Interestingly, Kim said that she'd never been more terrified performing before, but that the process had also liberated something in her regarding the combination of text and movement and that there is talk of working with Tara in the future on a solo for Kim.

In the meantime, Kim is busy with running her own dance studio, The Happening, on Fraser Street. As Kim put it to me, she has always enjoyed teaching, and at a certain point decided that if she wanted to remain in Vancouver and have any kind of lifestyle to speak of that she needed to find a supplement to her life as a pick-up professional dancer--and ideally one that didn't involving serving at a restaurant. It's been a huge and at times scary undertaking, but four years in the move seems to be paying off. Kim is just about to expand her space with a second, adjacent studio and has hired Natalie LeFebvre Gnam to teach the students ballet. The goal is to get to a place where Kim can hire more additional instructors and leave the day-to-day operations of the studio to others, while she pursues a parallel performance and choreographic career.

I was immensely happy to hear that, because we need performers as talented and charismatic as Kim to continue to appear on our stages. And we also need her mentoring the next generation of dance bunnies.


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