Update from Edmonton

It’s the end of our fourth day here in Edmonton and what a whirlwind it has been! This is my first tour as a Resident Artist with Dance Exchange, and I’m learning that the days are long but the weeks go by in the blink of an eye! Before I rush off see a show, I thought I’d give a quick update on what’s been going on in Edmonton with Resident Artist Shula Strassfeld and DX Adjunct Kevin Ormsby!

Tuesday, March 10: After many many hours of traveling, we landed in Edmonton and got picked up by the lovely Becca Barrington of GeriActors and Friends. Becca is the mastermind coordinator behind this whole residency, and what an incredible job she’s done keeping all of us ducks in a row. The rest of our Tuesday was unpacking, dinner, planning and SLEEP.

Members of GeriActors and CRIPSiE at work in the studio. Photo by Kevin Ormsby.

Wednesday, March 11: This was the day that the magic began. We spent the morning getting to know members of GeriActors & Friends, an intergenerational theatre company, and of CRIPSiE, a dance company whose name stands for Collaborative Radically Integrated Performers Society in Edmonton. Together, we began the process of collaboratively creating a piece which we’ll perform next Thursday, March 19. As a diverse group of movers and makers, we dove immediately into exploring the stories and movement that arise when we finish the sentence: “When people look at me they see ________, but they don’t see _________.”

Later that evening, Shula and I performed in the Cahoots Cabaret as part of the Expanse Festival in Edmonton. By exploring the places we’ve left, the places we’ve lost, and the places that have changed around us, we got the whole crowd moving! The feedback after the show was just as magical as the performance….from one audience member/festival organizer: “Thank you for letting us all be storytellers.”

Amanda and Becca demonstrating Mirroring at River Ridge. Photo by Kevin Ormsby.

Thursday, March 12: This day was full of even more creating with GeriActors and CRIPSiE as we began to develop solo and duet material. Everyone in the room was on their growing edge as movers and makers as some captivating and meaningful themes started to emerge.

Later that day, Shula, Kevin, Becca, and I traveled to St. Albert to facilitate a workshop at a senior residential facility. What a group of characters we encountered! Overheard during the course of the workshop…

“I’m just here to watch” (90 min later) “Oh I just can’t believe how we danced! When are you coming back??”

“Ooh that’s sexy!”

“Where do I belong?” “You belong right here.”

Friday, March 13: The piece we’re creating with GeriActors and CRIPSiE is beginning to take shape. Using the DX tool Perpetual Prompt along with some story circles, we were able to begin collecting text and story that might give structure and layers to the piece. We watched as each participant brought his or her fullest choreographic self to the table and during our team planning time in the afternoon, we were overwhelmed by the possibilities! Really looking forward to getting back into the studio on Monday!

Saturday, March 14: Today, we led the first day of our two-day Tools for Health Training, which explores the Dance Exchange tools and practices in the context of healthcare and caregiving. Shula, Kevin, and I walked away totally inspired by the moving, making, thinking, and visioning in the room. It was a day of laughter, tears, discovery, reflection, and creation! Tomorrow, we’ll be working with participants to plan and facilitate another workshop at River Ridge. It’s sure to be a fast-paced, meaningful day.

Stay tuned as we continue gathering, moving, and making up here in Canada, eh?


About Amanda Newman

A graduate of the University of Utah Department of Modern Dance, Amanda joined Dance Exchange in 2014 as Resident Artist, Communications Coordinator, and Youth Programs Facilitator.