As the summer heat settles in and my seasonal job picks up, I’ve noticed an abscense in the dance scene here. The tumbleweeds are rolling through the dance studios where once I rolled alongside my hard working contemporaries.
So, I beg the question, where have all the Hali dancers gone? You won’t find the babes of contemporary dance soaking up rays on the beach or jamming out to underground music festivals. No, they continue to work their way through the international dance scene; brushing up on new techniques, learning from pioneers of contemporary dance and festival hopping through the many forums available to them throughout Canada.
After presenting a gorgeous full length production Close Reach by Serge Bennathan in May, Mocean Dance went on to take a “dancecation”, although I’m sure it was more of a work dancecation, in Ottawa. The annual Canada Dance Festival hosted many currently relevant artists including our own Mocean Dance whom partnered with Kaeja D’Dance and Anik Bouvrette to bring the city Porch View Dances. These choreographies are truly celebrations of life. The stage, a porch, where one can sneak a peek at how the other may live and holds the mystery of secrets held within the house. Fun for the neighbourhood, these snipbits of real life tear open the tight seams of routine and allow the whole community to stop and enjoy.
Rhonda Baker was elsewhere while the girls were dancing in Ottawa. Her mission was to perform NutShell in the Guelph Dance Festival. True to form, her independent nature compels her to break off from the group and do her own explorations. After her strenuous performance in the festival she was able to do some independent explorations at Earth Dance, a festival in Massachusetts where you’ll find many like-minded dancers experimenting and sharing ideas, thoughts and inspirations among the environment of community living, outdoor stages and yurts.
Votive Dance remounted their piece Proven Lands on a whirlwind tour out West in Edmonton with NextFest June 12-14th. They were received well by Edmonton audiences whom were lucky enough to catch Stephanie Mitro and Kathleen Doherty reunited as long time friends and dance partners. Performed in the Fringe Festival the year previous, this haunting choreography by Catherine Hayward swept audiences away to a dark place where the temptation to let go can sometimes be overpowering when the struggle of resisting a dark force is unending.
Once Kathleen returned she barely took a pause before heading to the St. John Contemporary Dance Festival with Verge, a show of music and dance collaborators. After which, I jumped in and performed with them in a remount of the original show in the Spark Festival, a spin off of the Jazz Fest it’s a free street festival in July. There was a great turn out and as usual the show surprised us as it took a life of it’s own.
Georgia Skinner of Nostos recently left for a solo trip to Austria where she will be exploring what it means to be a contemporary dancer at large in the World. Her adventures are being recorded as she pokes about Europe before her gruelling dance days begin. Speaking of Nostos, they have quite the Fringe line-up where they will be presenting in the Fundy and Atlantic Fringe mainly lead by Olivia Aubrecht.
As the summer progresses the excitement does not stop. Sara Coffin recently whisked some of the Mocean girls to Vancouver to the Dancing on the Edge Festival from July 2-11 to present Body Abandoned. The piece, her Master’s thesis completed in 2014, comments on how our physical selves begin to merge with the technological advances that are now entrenched in our society.
And so, Halifax, this is what your dancers are up to. But fret not, there will be opportunities in the summer to catch your favourite movers. Mocean will return to perform in Festival of Dance Annapolis Royal, and come fall those tumbleweeds will once again be replaced by the rolling dancers in weekly technique classes. Live Art Dance presenters will begin a new season with a great line-up of dance from away and of some special local talent. And I’m very much looking forward to the Fringe Festival in which my own full length show, Toxicity, will be presented.
So while your basking in the sun, or sipping on your porch beer, give a little nod to our city’s dancers, working away; driven to learn more, create more, and give more, to bring the best possible dance to our little scene.