I have begun my creative month in Calgary, preparing We Three, my a contemporary dance trio of witches, for the Alberta Dance Festival. In this choreographic work I am exploring the concept of "The Wild" (ADF's 2018 theme) as it refers to humans. I am interested in the power of intuition, and the values of matriarchal religions/societies. In much of our current society we have shut down part of our mind-body connection, our connection to nature, and the sense of presence in the moment. Women, in touch with their bodies, and the present moment, harness an eerie power that We Three extends to magical abilities. The cast is a trio of powerful women: Elizabeth Emond-Stevenson, Heather Thomson, and Sarah Curts. These incredible humans, in touch with their bodies, bend reality.
Photos by Caitlin Unrau, featuring the cast
While I was still in Ottawa, I began working remotely with two of my cast members, and in person with one. The remote process involved the exchanging of videos and emails. In either case, I assign improvisations to my dancers and "taught" sequences set to the music. This work gave us some common ground, and a wealth of vocabulary and inspiration for once we were finally in studio all together. We are currently in a week of intensive work, building the choreography while the cast builds comfort working together. Next up is the ADF Creative Intensive designed to shake things up and explore the potential of the work, inviting in other artistic voices. After that experience we will have another week of rehearsals to prepare for the performances.
My intention with this work is to peel back the classic witch (at her base, a woman who is not dependant on a man) to the abandoned third of the triple goddess, the crone. She is a matriarch, a knowledge keeper, a death priestess, the destroyer, the "end" of a cyclical system, and so much more (as I continue to learn). My main source of inspiration is the non-fiction book, The Crone: Woman of Age, Wisdom, and Power, by Barbara G. Walker. This translates to choreography inspired by the rich feminine/crone/witch symbols scattered throughout history: nurturing (supporting weight); cycles (in floor patterns, round movements, repetition); death (Fates snipping the thread of life); etc. In this choreography I am borrowing gestures from the Waacking dance style. I see it as evocative of spell casting. I am most interested in arms working asymmetrically and at different speeds; articulate arms, hands, fingers, and hip and knee joints; and twirling, circular movements.
I am building the choreography to Nicole Lizée's Ouijist from her album, Bookburners. I sought to work with music composed by a woman, which evoked the feeling of magic. I appreciate the complexity of the music, and that it has a wild journey, with many speed and texture changes. I also enjoy that it feels very natural or reality based with a few tangents into more electronically created sound. This, as with every other element of the project, is subject to change as the process marches on. In the meantime, I am enjoying the journey!