Storytelling, Dance, and Shakespeare

Photo by Mat Simpson


The week of Sept. 15-22, 2014 was an exciting, creative week of exploration and collaboration in Edmonton, Canada. I (Shula Strassfeld of DX) had enjoyed collaborating with artists Stuart Kandell of Stagebridge Theatre, and David Barnet of the University of Alberta in the past, and the three of us decided we wanted to continue the fun.

We had four major areas of work during the week…

We worked with GeriActors and Friends, an intergenerational theatre company led by Artistic Director David Barnet. Together, we created several short text and movement pieces based on personal story and the stripping away of image, movement and text. This approach came from the work the company is doing on the story of King Lear.

Photo by Mat Simpson

We also worked with CRIPSiE, an adaptive dance company that is making some really interesting, challenging work about important issues in the disability community. CRIPSiE is an acronym for Collaborative Radically Integrated Performers Society in Edmonton. Using images and movements from stories relating to the prompt “when I open my door I see….”, we created a large group work about friendship and support as well as humor and surprise.

Then there were the Shakespeare classes at the University of Alberta during which we shamelessly experimented using DX tools of 1-10, Equivalence, Essencing, and Movement Metaphor. Then we just stood back and watched the magic happen, as each student without exception brought his/her monologue to a higher, richer, more honest level of performance (and they made some pretty smart movement pieces as well).

Last but not least of the major work of the week, I had the opportunity to collaborate with an intergenerational group of artists associated with Geriactors–David, Stuart, Becca, Bill, and Barry. We made a five minute piece using the theme “O, Brave new world, that has such wondrous creatures in it” (a sort of accurate quotation from Shakespeare) and the image of older dancers casting young shadows.

Photo by Mat Simpson

In our spare time, we convened a public conversation about the work of Stagebridge and DX. We held an open public workshop in which we explored Shakespeare’s Macbeth using tools and practices unique to the creative processes of Stagebridge and DX.  We simply built upon each other’s ideas and techniques until Macbeth’s three witches looked as it never had before!

All this work was shared at a theatrical extravaganza with good fun and good food enjoyed by all.

Can’t wait for DX’s next trip to Edmonton in the spring of 2015!

About Shula Strassfeld

Shula Strassfeld began dancing “too late” and has been dancing ever since. She joined Dance Exchange in 2007.