Nova Scotian Artists bring us “I Chart” and “Entangled”


Gearing up for this Thursday to Saturday, Jacinte Armstrong will be featured as a solo artist bringing us “I Chart” choreographed by Sarah Chase, and Lisa Phinney Langley will present “Entangled” featuring dancers Gillian Seaward-Boone and Andrew Turner. As Halifax continues to weave a strong tapestry of dance culture in the contemporary field, we look to these established artists with reverence for their scintillating work.

Established from a long standing relationship with Sarah Chase “I Chart” will be performed by the Haligonian dancer known for her widely collaborative work. Jacinte Armstrong’s performative versatility was recently featured in Waiting for Bardo(t) choreographed by Denise Fujiwara. She performed as a small yet captivating story teller; committed to spoken lines and characterizations creating a powerful interpretation of the existential experience.

Jacinte Armstrong, photo Marvin Moore.jpg
Jacinte Armstrong photographed by Marive Moore in “I Chart”

The premiere of “I Chart” created by Chase was developed from shared interests in body work; Jacinte an established Pilates teacher and Sarah exploring how memories are stored within physicality. A working relationship grown over the past 6 years has seen Armstrong working with Chase in such places as Vancouver & Montreal.  The solo work was mulled and distilled by mutual respect for performer and creator. Armstrong’s respect for her choreographer is evident in her attention to detail when speaking of the work. Solidifying “I Chart” at Chase’s home in Hornby island BC; they easily connected the dots from years of material development and common interest.

Over time the two have explored gesture through personal experience of movement by performer while questions probed by Chase expanded on memories, stories and material. The piece is a culmination of her investigation into how gesture “intuitively connects to meaning and language” (Armstrong) becoming a communicative and deliberate story that requires little dissection or interpretation to be enjoyed as a solo performance.
A version of the piece workshopped at the Fluid Fest in Calgary was received by viewers as either very personal to Armstrong, or to those familiar with her work, trademark of Chase’s choreographic process.
Armstrong, who often thinks aloud, wonders into the phone whether she should allow herself another coffee after teaching her morning classes. In the same way she invites me into her thoughts on the piece and imparts on me its mathematical nature.
Though the numbers run deep into the work creating multiple layers and brainy challenges for Jacinte as performer, she stresses the clarity and relatedness of the dance piece. Visual and audible, the work will invite you in with it’s formula of intimate story telling guided by Chase’s mathematical parameters on gesture.

Lisa Phinney Langley’s work has roots in the West Coast as well. After doing some research based on images of waves (a quantum physical concept) with 3 dancers in Halifax, she went West to continue her research project on meaning in movement. While studying with Crystal Pite in Vancouver, the wave idea was set aside in favour of working through specific questions of movement origins and meaning. Although for some time the thoughts were stored away in a notebook, they resurfaced when she began her latest work, and took her down a rabbit-hole into quantum physics.

“Entangled” is based on the Quantum Entanglement Phenomenon which is, defined by Phinney, “the unshakeable, mysterious, pseudo-memory of a past encounter”. The work will relate this quantum state of particles in a broader sense to human relationship. With such a rich background in both the field of dance and the field of science my curiosity for the piece is unquenchable.

Science is not only an interest of Phinney’s, she’s devoted a life-long practice to the subject. In fact, after receiving her undergrad in physics/earth science systems, she paid her way through the school of Toronto Dance Theatre by working in the field on contract with a researcher. I get the feeling her motto is “leave no stone unturned” because she has since continued on to receive her Masters in physics and Atmospheric Science.

Lisa Phinney Langley, photo Scott Munn.jpg
Lisa Phinney Langley photo by: Scott Munn

Science is so entrenched in her creative process that she draws parallels in the work of dance improvisation to scientific research. Elaborating on her work in the field of research she says:  “We would look at one relationship between variables, and from there take a tangent into another exploration which would then lead us to investigate this other thing… eventually we formed a cohesive picture of the system we were investigating.  That is how I work in improv.  And definitely in a creation. ”

And who better to work with than the “nothing short of phenomenal” (Phinney) dancers: Gillian Seaward-Boone and Andrew Turner. Focused and committed to the work, they’ve impressed Lisa with their openness to the process and their wide range of movement abilities. She offers credit to the pair of dancers she is working with for contributing to the final piece through their wide range of experience and the “levity” they bring to the studio allowing for infinite possibilities. She is also generous with her gratitude for Brian Riley their sound designer, their lighting designer affectionately referred to as “Bob” and Elise Chase-Sinclair’s contribution as costume designer.

Lisa Phinney Langley’s exploration  of the physical world through dance and science concurrently is like nothing I’ve ever heard of before. Her words in our virtual interview were so succinct and evoking I need to include this last little bit before I leave you :

“.. science is there to explore and describe our physical world.  Dance does that too.  So it’s a natural match.  It’s maybe not so much that I am inspired by science, but both science and art are driven by the similar motive of understanding our environment and our impulses.”

This Thursday to Saturday enjoy the works of two Haligonian artists, Armstrong diving in as performer and Phinney as choreographer. How privileged we are to house artists with such cerebral and carefully researched processes; informed by artists nationally and developed over years of experience.

8PM/Thurs-Sat/ 12-14 January/2017

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