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Belated Happy Solstice and Happy New Year!

I’m in Molise, an underpopulated and beautiful province in Italy. I have been “adopted” by an Italian family. They collect all the good people and Christmas lasts a week. It’s delightful.
Last year I was in Morocco with a different sort of fast family. There are olive trees, generous people and good food in both stories. (I must write something called Vacations With Strangers)
I am here looking for a space to start an international dance centre. It will be a creation and residency centre, performance space and community hub. In the summer there will be professional workshops and performances from guest artists. Throughout the year, international resident artists will share the work. There will be festivals in May and September, with a different performance each weekend. The community might participate in weekly movement practices, choral experiments and any other great ideas throughout the year. I’m staying with a woman who has an olive farm and artist retreat. In the summer she hosts projects here. During the year she co-organizes a make-a-short-film-in-50-hours festival in the old town square. From the top of her property one can see snow-capped mountains in one direction and the sea in the other. The sky was the most amazing layers of pink then blue then land last afternoon.

Hyper Local Super Now

I have been trying to write this newsletter for months. If you’re following, it’s been since August. So there have been many hyper local super nows in that time.
The quality of time has been moving around on me. In different ways.
A brief summary:

I just returned from a quick trip to Morocco, where I spent 2 months last year. It is hard to believe that a year has passed. I thought I might reduce the pace in 2019, Year of Emotional Core Stability, Shoulder Girdle and Big Projects. Emotional Core Stability took more time and space than I imagined. That’s not fair. If I had imagined, I would have imagined that it would take a lot of time and space. So revisiting Morocco. When I arrived there last year I had been in 51 places, this year I've been in 55 places, so not reducing the pace. I have narrowed the focus field and that feels good. I have made a new solo called Vicarious Time, and am working on Anatomalia and It's My Party (more on these later).
As part of the research and preparation for Anatomalia, I have been slowly brewing and processing the work of transforming trauma. In the last few years, in Canada, we’ve gone from not being able to talk about it - people would roll their eyes a little - to trigger warnings on things like ‘an orange will be peeled onstage’, to everything being about trauma and recognizing it and finally having a place to give voice to it, to a new and strange place where retelling the stories can be retraumatizing. How do we do the collective healing that is needed if we can’t talk about it? Cultures and communities process and heal through storytelling. This often happens long after the event(s) that need processing occur. All the World War II storytelling that we keep doing.  A world war is a huge trauma on everyone and despite the ‘keep calm and carry on’ attitude of some cultures, we need to process it.
So then, the stuff that we need to talk about but also that we have to be gentle, careful and easy about so as not to trigger folks into replaying the trauma without it moving. If we don’t move it, it gets trapped and we only replay it, we don’t process it. There's a fine line between giving voice and sharing experience, and the danger of replaying the emotional patterns that exhaust our resources. And then finally that healing is not a solo act. I don’t know so much about this yet, but I know it’s true. You cannot go inside yourself and heal from all the trauma, you need to heal within a community, and in that process, the community heals too.
This is complicated stuff. I guess that contemplating all of this took a lot of time this year. We are all suffering some collective trauma, at the hands of sexism and capitalism and it seems that it has gotten worse in the last few years. This 1% thing, the invasion anxiety some governments are promoting, climate depression. The increase in mental health issues, not just in millennials but in everyone. (well not everyone, but across many demographics in the western world.) How to balance the giving of love and getting of support?
My current conclusion is that the art that those of us on the edges make doesn't need to tackle all the issues head on, but we do need to make space for joy. The audience for those of us on the edges tend to already be in the trenches of all the issues. How do we make space for joy? I've had this conversation with folks in lots of places recently. This is what we need.  


Vicarious Time at Ponderosa, photo Reut Shaibe


Emotional Landscapes


The making of a new solo. It has been clear to me for some time that the energy it takes to motivate work and travel across time zones and continents takes up a significant portion of my creativity. And time to plan and orchestrate it all.

I thought might just be a diary entry kind of solo, marking the moment, but not necessarily a big piece. (I mean this is funny. Why do we think that an opera is more significant than a song? Scale and scope, obviously, but why is bigger always better?) At first I thought this piece was akin to a song, but as I kept digging and exploring and making, it might be an album. Vicarious Time is about migration, the precarity of life, the sacrum, protecting oneself and butterflies. I am so pleased to be performing an excerpt of it in Toronto on February 8 & 9 at Dance Matters at the Citadel. Long-time collaborators Alicia Grant and Andrea Spaziani are it’s doula’s and that newer collaborator Laura Tack is making the music.


2019 Round Up

Stand Up Dance has had a big year and there are exciting things on the horizon.
Most notable, Stand Up Dance spearheaded the international collaboration and production of To Be Announced by Léxico Project in Catalunya in Spain. We are proud to be the recipients of some of the $3.3 million that went to Canadian artists working outside of Canada.
Anatomalia had a fantastic creation residency at FringeLAB in Dublin with fabulous collaborators Mariam Cronin, Áine Ní Laoghaire and Jade O'Connor with production design assistance by Ruth Barry and by remote music by Laura Tack.

In the summer, Stand Up Dance performed our popular dance like no one is watching project in Victoria BC, for the delight of passers-by, fly overs and nearby boaters. This was, as always, a delight and I was thrilled that Marie Pier Gilbert and Allison Brooks were able to return to Stand Up Dance. We also welcomed three local Victoria dancers and two graduating students from the School for Contemporary Dancers in Winnipeg. Stand Up Dance was pleased to be returning for the third time to Theatre SKAM's Skampede Festival. It wouldn’t have been possible without our chair of Stand Up Dance’s board of directors, David Matte.
My long-time colleague, friend and former flatmate, Linnea Swan and I teamed up to do some great things in Calgary – where she now resides, dances and choreographs. We have dubbed ourselves, Canada’s Grand Dames of Dance (in waiting). Over two weeks we explored dance-film together, I taught a DIY Solo Making workshop to dancers in the Calgary community, and was outside eye for Linnea’s new (dark, dramatic and wickedly funny) solo and we brainstormed our upcoming project, It’s My Party.
There was a bit of summer time in there. Two Pride Parades. One where I cried and one where I laughed.

In Ireland I put myself on retreat to begin the process of writing a book about the creative practice I’ve developed and how that interacts with art making and life living.
This autumn, Stand Up Dance lead creative dance workshops in Whitehorse and Carcross in the Yukon to children, community and special needs adults. I again had the pleasure of teaching Improv and coaching solos for the students at The School of Dance in Ottawa, truly one of my favourite annual activities.
The making of a new solo!!!! Vicarious Time burst forth a little unexpectedly at the Autumn Artist Exchange at Ponderosa in Germany. I continued working on it at Blip Collective in rural Austria. I am continuing its development back in Berlin and will be performing part of it in Toronto at Dance Matters - Rebel Yells, February 8 & 9, and hope to be performing it everywhere later in 2020.

paper sacrums around a me shaped space

Upcoming and Ongoing  

Upcoming I am so thrilled to get to work on Anatomalia, a series of installations audiences move between and through to a performance, exploring anatomy, anomaly, femalia as a broad frame, and transforming trauma through collective action as another. Look for performances in Europe in 2020 and in Canada in 2021.
The Grand Dames of Dance (in waiting), Linnea Swan and I, are conducting artistic research with women in their middle years in Athens, Barcelona, Berlin, BC, Galway, Malta, Mexico, Morocco, Northern Macedonia, Norway, Prague, Texas, Toronto, Las Vegas and Zagreb. This creative research will inform exciting cross-cultural (over the ocean and under the sea) one-to-one performances this summer and will lead to the development of a long-distance, simul-cast, double-audience duet, It's My Party, for The Grand Dames of Dance (in waiting) and include the contributions and experiences of women in their middle years, of grief and purpose, in 2021.

Stand Up Dance is also very excited to let you know that we will be initating an international dance festival in Molise, Italy this summer in collaboration with Il Giardino, artistic residency and nature. More coming soon.

. moving . social . imagination .

Thanks for reading. May 2020 bring joy.

Visit for more writing on the experiences of life on the road in this world.

il Giardino artistic residency & nature, Rotello, Molise, Italy

Copyright © 2019 Stand Up Dance, All rights reserved.

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