Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Four Stories, A Driving Force - A Work in Progress

Karolyn Owens, Aliyah Beckles and Ulana Romanish of Simcoe Contemporary Dancers in Sarah Kennedy's work in progress / Photo by Kennedy
Attending an Arts school for the past four years has given me ample opportunity to perform and create choreography with my peers. However, working with a professional company like SCD, and choreographing on company members, is a whole new experience.

Normally, when I get an assignment at school I have a theme or song ready to use and I’m choreographing within minutes. This project was not like that at all. I came into it having no idea what I wanted to do.

It took me several weeks to discover my idea and I realized that it was there the whole time.

I was given a task to start the choreographic process. I was asked to observe people in a public space and find something I was drawn to. While I was observing, I began thinking about the stories and life experiences people carry around with them day to day. I realized that everyone has so many stories within them, affecting them and sometimes a driving force brings them together. This idea was very interesting to me and I wanted to explore what that driving force might look like in choreography.

With the help of the dancers we were able to achieve my vision. We began with four stories - four life experiences. Each experience gives the dancer a unique quality. The stories we worked with are about bullying, mental health issues, loss, and a person whose achieves more power through the manipulation of others.

These four stories are drawn together by a force.

In rehearsal, with these stories, we started off with a simple improvisation to help discover the movement. We then pieced together the choreography from the improvisation material. The dancers were able to put their own ideas into the choreography and help me out if I was stuck. I like how our teamwork helped the piece develop.

Then, I had the pleasure of watching my work in progress be performed as part of our annual Winterfest performance. This was my first-time presenting work at a public event and I’m not going to lie, I was very nervous. However, as the dancers performed, I suddenly felt calm and happy that it all came together. It truly is the most amazing feeling to watch the idea you nurtured become a dance and then to watch it be performed so beautifully – To know you helped create it.

I am still working on the piece, molding and sculpting it. The force that draws these stories together, I am unsure of right now but I will continue to explore that concept as well. I’m not sure where it will all go but I’m excited to continue discovering. I know what we create will be worth the wait.

This project has given me the opportunity to explore my own creativity without restrictions. I have seen myself grow as dancer/choreographer in a short number of weeks and I think that is the most amazing thing about this whole project.

- Sarah Kennedy

Saturday, January 27, 2018


Bree Booth, Jaqui Brown and Chrissy King of Simcoe Contemporary Dancers in Alyssa Zimmerman's work Untied  / Photo by Zimmerman
“It is with your feet that you move but it is with your heart that you dance” - Aalaynah Thompson

A former dance teacher, Mrs. McKee, used to tell me the above quote, and it would always allow me to realize why I dance. The quote means a lot to me, just as much as my dancing does.

But, this year, I started to lose the joy of dance, I forgot why I even started. It eventually began to feel like a job instead of something I enjoyed. Taking on this choreographic practice with SCD has allowed me to recognize the real reason I dance, again.

While creating my piece, I felt a creative lock. I was so worried about what everyone would think. I was afraid to put my all into the choreography. I kept second-guessing myself, making the whole process even more challenging.

But once rehearsals began, I watched the dancers and explored movement with some improvisation games. I started to feel the passion I once had for dance and for creating. This opened my eyes to the real reason I started dancing, it wasn't for anyone else but for myself.

I changed my outlook, decided to stop second guessing and just go with the flow. I had previously created a solo for myself that explained my feelings and really allowed me to be me. I decided I would rework this solo into a trio for SCD and from this original choreography, I started to build my new dance.

I was outside my school thinking about what story I could bring to life. It was cold and dark, but there was beauty there still. A tree – it was bare but stood strong in the storm. The wind and snowflakes were spinning around it, yet nothing could tear it down. The weather was loud and distracting, but I still felt at peace. All it took was one moment, this moment, to inspire me and the ideas kept flowing. 

Working with SCD has allowed me to challenge myself as a dancer and choreographer. I was strongly encouraged to come out of my comfort zone and find new ways to be creative. I felt supported knowing that if I got stuck or needed help with anything, I was able to ask anyone in the company for help. Everyone here is extremely friendly and we all care about each other. I am truly delighted to have the opportunity to work with these amazing people, as well as sharing my first dance piece with the company.  

Untied, means something to me, but also creates a story for the audience. Not just one they can watch, but one they can feel. To me this piece is an opportunity to explain the process of overcoming an emotional, physical, or creative block. I hope people can connect to the dance and see their own story through the movement of the dancers. I hope it helps them find a sense of peace like SCD helped me find my way back to my peace with dancing.  

- Alyssa Zimmerman

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Found Within a Drop

Photo by Jewell Cormier - "Drop"
One constant I’ve always been able to find within dance is rediscovery. In my movement, I’ve been able to find myself and my values over and over again, even when they feel lost forever. I’m able to relive moments from deep in my childhood and remember sensations that I previously thought worthless.

The choreographic process I have undertaken with SCD has been another opportunity for rediscovery through dance.  

The timing of this whole process has been rather ironic. I was feeling distant from my dancing and now I don’t feel so. Rediscovery.

Much of my life has been absorbed by dance and it’s always been the primary source of my thoughts and where most of my energy has been invested. However, throughout this past fall and current winter my mind has been taken over and I must admit I’ve been distracted. Distracted by expectations. By impulse. By voices from so many places and so many people.

Then, suddenly it was time for me to create a piece for a group of professionals that have raised me through inspiration, and while at any other point in my life I would have been feeling anticipation and energy, all I could feel was sheer disappointment in myself for being so utterly idealess. I knew I wanted to make something meaningful, but my mind was in the wrong place and I kept putting off my research for a concept until none other than the car ride on the way to the first rehearsal.

Until then I was thinking big, a complex story with a puzzling message, but eventually I realized that I wanted to start smaller. Perhaps a simpler idea, drawing from my childhood where one small question or idea could send me imagining for hours, was where I should begin. And in the passenger seat with a notebook on my lap I drew a small circle. It was me! And since this worry of distraction was so prominent in my mind I drew a triangle, a sort of dagger into me. The combined circle and triangle made a teardrop, and just like that I felt replenished. I had a starting point. A simple starting point, but to me it meant the world. I felt back on track. I had rediscovered my path.

Having the privilege of working with such incredible people whose work I find astonishing, made me rediscover the fun and playful aspect of dance. I couldn’t be more grateful for who I got to share my first choreographic experience with.

The creation of Drop is so personal to me because it reminded me of perspective, and also, of my passion. My love of dance is replenished, my dreams are restored, and my standards are remade.

Walking before I’m running...  

- Jewell Cormier

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Huronia Cultural Campus presents variety of contemporary dance in Orillia

Coming up November 17 and 18, the Huronia Cultural Campus presents Gathering – a contemporary performing arts event at St. Paul's Centre in downtown Orillia.

Dance performances include artists Margie Gillis, Fides Krucker, Kate Hilliard, Heidi Strauss, Hanna Kiel and Tessa Kuz.  

There are workshops scheduled as part of the event too including a workshops with Fides Krucker Saturday November 18 from 1:00pm to 3:00pm and Heidi Strauss on the same day from 2:30pm-4:00pm.

For more information visit hccpresents.com

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Trajectory: A noun, A Dance

by Chrissy King
Dancers: Carly Manuel, Jewell Cormier, Jaqui Brown
Photo Credit: Alyssa Zimmerman-Row 

Trajectory can mean few things depending on its use. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, trajectory could mean "a curve that a body describes in space," or "a path, progression, or line of development resembling a physical trajectory."

To me, these definitions describe not only the curation of Trajectory, Simcoe Contemporary Dancers, freshest enthralling dance presentation, but the experience of being a dancer in the show. Lets start our blog trajectory with Curation.

To create a comprehensive journey, a trajectory if you will, the Artistic Director must look at all the works in the show and discover the through-line which connects them and a path that guides the audience through new experiences.
In Simcoe Contemporary Dancer's Trajectory, we are invited into a world that has both internal investigation and performative exploration. Each unique work creates its own world and deals in its own concept but connects together because of the moving bodies in space. The cast has been learning and moving with each other for quite a while to create this show and this body knowledge creates a journey we invite the audience to embark on with us. We create a through-line in our shared training and a fierce interest in bodies moving together. We explore how, regardless of theme, this basic concept draws the works together. 

This brings us further on our trajectory to Experience. 

As a dancer in the company, I can tell you that Trajectory is something new. The energy is electric, the passion to create is fiery and the artistry is on point. All of the choreography was created and is performed by women. Women from different backgrounds, different cities, different life experiences and different perspectives. This gives Trajectory a vigour and deep multiplicity of experience.

The choreographers and their personal trajectories create a show that is totally enthralling. Their divergent world views have seeped into their works, giving the audience something new to experience at at every turn. From emerging artists to, seasoned award winning choreographers, this show shares works by performers at every stage of their career and therefore, a variety of stages on their own trajectories. It is truly an experience not to be missed.

As a dancer in the show, I draw energy and empowerment from the different world views, dance experiences and personalities of all the performers around me. I invite you to do the same.

Let's finish our trajectory for today. To be revisited October 12-14 at the Mady Centre for the Performing Arts.

I urge you to purchase your tickets for this spectacular event now

An entire show created and performed  by women is not to be missed.

Trajectory is fierce, it is circular but forward moving, it is a bold picture of where we have been and where we have yet to go. 

Join us on our trajectory.