Sunday, October 19, 2014

First-Person: MovEnt Artistic Producer Julie-anne Saroyan on Dances for a Small Stage

John Oswald, Holly Small (photo by John Oswald)
Crossing the Divide: Music meets Dance 
By Julie-anne Saroyan

MovEnt’s Artistic Producer, Julie-anne Saroyan loves sharing dance with everyone.  She co-founded MovEnt in 2001 and kicked off the series Dances for a Small Stage in Vancouver.  Since then, Ms Saroyan has produced many dance events including all instalments of the MovEnt series Dances for a Small Stage in Vancouver, at the Canada Dance Festival (2006) and at BC Scene (2009) and The National Arts Centre in Ottawa.  Her background includes a degree in dance combined with technical theatre from York University and an internship in stage management at The Banff Centre. But it’s the excitement of sharing dance with regular people that inspires her to continue to develop and support dance artists and push boundaries that connects them with audiences. Ms Saroyan has established herself in the dance industry as a skilled and dedicated professional in identifying, developing, and mentoring emerging dance artists. She has successfully developed Dances for a Small Stage as a breeding ground for new choreographic talent and as a stable, sustainable artistic venture. Julie-anne Saroyan has had the pleasure of working with many dance artists and companies including  Ballet BC, Lola Dance, Margie Gillis, Emily Molnar and Crystal Pite/Kidd Pivot. She was also on Faculty at Simon Fraser University from 2005-2007 as the Production/Stage Management Instructor in the School for the Contemporary Arts and currently sits on several committees including the programming committee for PAL (Performing Arts Lodge) Theatre.

Dances for a Small Stage 31 will lift the curtain October 23 on an adventurous, audacious, outrageous group of artists. Presented by MovEnt with Music on Main as part of the 2014 Modulus Festival, Small Stage dancers will be joined by live musicians – a cheeky new twist for our small stage – who will share the spotlight side-by-side in an exhilarating evening of no-holds-barred, awe-inspiring music and dance collaborations. 

Cecilia Quartet

This upcoming instalment will showcase John Oswald and Holly Small – the original trendsetters when it comes to dance and music collaborations – who will fire up our ridiculously small stage in this, their first-ever performance together in Vancouver. We’ve also invited a brilliant all-female ensemble, Toronto’s multi-award winning Cecilia String Quartet who will be teaming up with local dancers/choreographers Vanessa Goodman, Stewart Iguidez, Makaila Wallace (in a work choreographed by Karissa Barry), and fellow Toronto guests Jessica Runge and Sean Ling. Billy Marchenski – always a fan favourite – will enchant audiences as maestro and emcee for the evening. 

While dancers moving and grooving to live musical accompaniment is certainly not a new concept, I’ve noticed it’s experienced a sad decline in our local performing arts scene; perhaps a result of our over-reliance on recorded music. Now don’t get me wrong, hitting 'play' on an iPod has made music more accessible, and arguably more enjoyable, for dancers and non-dancers alike. But there’s a vibrant, intangible energy – more like electricity – that grows between a musician and a dancer who are both on stage, buzzing to the same note. It’s with this in mind that I’ve reached a welcoming hand to these exceedingly talented musicians who are set to take off in this latest episode of Dances for a Small Stage. 

It’s my hope that this vibrant energy that comes from mingling artistic worlds will blow the socks off our Small Stage audience! Speaking of audiences, there is without question another brilliant effect that happens when you pair off music and dance in the same room: it draws an awesome, eclectic group of supporters from both worlds.

The Dances for a Small Stage crowd is a regular mix of long-time dance lovers, and those in pursuit of a hilarious night out with good people and great entertainment. This is what we’re all about, and has been ever since our first performance in 2002. Small Stage caters to an un-intimidating, kick back and relax-type of crowd, offering a safe place to experience innovative new dance works. I like the word 'safe' because it expresses the experience both on stage and off: creators have the opportunity to showcase new creations in front of an audience open to experimentation, and viewers are at-ease, even when they’re unsure of what’s coming up next!

By showcasing these top-tier, über-creative musicians in Dances for a Small Stage 31, we’re reaching out to music fans to say, “Who’s open to a bit of out-of-the-box experimentation?!” We’re giving them the chance to see something they’ve never before experienced. Furthermore, with these new fans we’re providing a gateway into the often unpredictable and completely crazy world of contemporary dance. It’s my hope that they leave feeling totally satisfied, their eyes wide looking for the next upcoming dance performance. And that my friends, is a beautiful thing.  

October 23 - 25

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