We’ve come to the inevitable end of our sessions with the elder ladies at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health. Tara Luz Danse and the group of about eight women all came to really look forward to enjoying each other’s company twice a week, and creating a movement-based piece together. Below is Part 1 of a two-part blog that reflects on the end of our creative process together from the perspective of the lead artist on this project, Amelia Griffin, and a look into how we took these playful movement concepts and made them into a piece of dance choreography.
Flashback to two weeks before the final presentation, and the group of ladies and I have completed trying all six of the improvisational dance concepts; Line, Flocking, Word-Image, Chain, Mirror, and Statue. The last two weeks together brought great creativity from the group in incorporating the Medicine Wheel as a theme for the choreography, and way to arrange these concepts. The Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health uses the Medicine Wheel as a model for health and healing, so it felt natural to choose this as a theme to be a point of inspiration for the piece. At this stage we knew that some of the concepts worked for what we wanted to do, and some didn’t come as naturally. We decided that our choices of concepts should be based around a few criteria:
1 – They needed to have an element-quality to them, or some aspect of nature.
2 – We needed to truly enjoyed doing it with one another.
3 – Concepts that everyone can be involved in.
We whittled the concepts down with this criteria, then following the clockwise motion of the Medicine Wheel, the final concepts for the choreography were arranged to follow the elements in this order:
Word-Image – which brought out animals noises and hunting sounds.
Flocking – which supported our air-like qualities of movement.
The Line – which represented the ocean, water, ripples, waves, the tide.
After deciding on our concepts and their order, all we had left to do in the next, and last week was to try different movement-transitions to weave concepts smoothly from one to the next, and decide on a beginning and ending to the piece.
While this was happening, our musician François Gravel was lent a hand-made drum from the Centre, which led one of the grandmothers to mention stepping lightly as a woman of her age would in a pow wow circle. We started to connect about age, and how myself and the group of ladies are at different stages of life. This reinforced our decision to follow the Medicine Wheel in the choreography, and reflect our perspectives, the cycle of life, seasons of the year, and the power of circular movement and energy as a tool for healing.
Throughout the last part of our creative process together, myself and the grandmothers at the Senior’s Program had opportunities for deep reflections on how our differences in age and culture created a space of knowledge-sharing, and deep respect that helps each of us have space to move as a reflection of life itself. I am grateful to have spent time with such open and kind women who shared a part of themselves in this choreography with their knowledge.
More about our Final Performance and how we wove the concepts together into a choreography in Part 2!
Founded in 2006 by choreographer Anik Bouvrette, Tara Luz Danse is a contemporary dance company in residence at the Shenkman Arts Centre. The company’s work is twofold: we create and present dances for audiences of all ages, and we work in schools and in the community, fostering the discovery of contemporary dance.