The genesis …
On the 19th of May 2021, we came together for a Live Lab to present the work of the second year students at the Ryerson School of Performance. In a ‘normal’ year, the final assignment would be a written piece but this is not a normal year. In response to the different environment that we find ourselves in as a result of the pandemic and inspired by the development of DCD Discover the students were asked to research dance history and use this to make a new creation.
Amy Bowring, Executive and Curatorial Director at Dance Collection Danse and Contract Lecturer at Ryerson University innovated this new assignment. In her introduction to the projects she stated that she was ‘Blown away’ by the student’s creations, and that this was a ‘Really fun project to mark … with crossovers into different areas of creating’.
We were then treated to a ‘show and tell’ of ten of the creations …
Annalise stated ‘The details within the political, choreographic, emotional and production elements of Martha Graham’s “Steps in The Street” (1936) allows connections to made between current global issues and movement as well as how to convey an artistic voice of activism able to resonate with an audience, like Graham did during the fascist movements in Europe. As a growing creative, learning through the Covid-19 Pandemic, I was inspired by Graham’s emotional choreography, contracted shapes of the upper body and sense of seriousness yet explosive kinetic energy. I used these characteristics to create a modern day, Covid-19 inspired version of “Steps in The Street” called “Manic in The Mask”.’
Merlin explained that he was Inspired by the numerous experimental interpretations of “The Nutcracker”. Merlin continued and stated that these costumes have become codified and that he wanted to examine how far he could transform the costumes whilst keeping them recognisable. The costumes are designed to push the boundaries of typical ballet costuming. This fictional production of the Nutcracker is inspired by queer culture and incorporates burlesque, 1930’s fashion and Jazz music. Merlin’s Costume Designs
Janneyce introduced us to her work and stated that ‘This short film illustrates the creative processes that were most famous to Pina Bausch. Through visual interpretation, I sought to explore her ubiquitous philosophical influences which piqued my curiosity. The search for depth in raw emotion along with the qualities of humans and nature equally reflect the fascinating complexity of her work. Having said that, this film is composed of an amalgamation of video clips that give life to her interpretive approach.’ A short excerpt from Janneyce’s film
Nika explained that her collage explores the portrayal of Middle Eastern women in Sherazade through Western eyes, and examines the difference between the true reality and the sexualised depiction.
Niall created, narrated and scored a podcast. Niall’s podcast gives a brief overview of the earliest traces of dance in prehistoric times. Based on scholarly research, the documentary covers three main questions: What evidence do we have of prehistoric dance? What could it have looked like? And did it have a purpose?
Megan explained that she was inspired to create her painting by the movement and the overall emotions that she felt from watching Doris Humphrey’s, Water Study, choreographed in 1928. As Meagan writes ‘I wanted the painting to give the illusion of being a wave with the white sides against the white background. Because the canvas is 3D, I thought paint going over the top would bring this wave idea to life, by creating the shape of a curling wave. When creating the painting, I was inspired by the follow-ups and individual movement from each dancer. Each brush stroke is there to represent the canons and ripples throughout the piece, just like the different embodiments of water movement.’
Scout created a 70’s, 80’s and 90’s Hip Hop Party Dance tutorial. Scout explained that her creative process involved new research as well as utilizing information previously learned from mentors she had growing up. She writes ‘There are many key elements, influential people and styles that have created Hip-Hop’s history. This “mock tutorial” focuses on the history and evolution of social party dances. Viewers will go back in time to learn about some of the most influential Hip-Hop party dances in their eras and the inspiration behind them. The goal of this creation is to inspire others to want to get up and dance, and learn more about Hip-Hop’s intriguing history. Enjoy!’
Margaret’s creation was a Don Quixote Leotard, inspired by the work of Yumiko Takeshima. Margaret writes ‘I designed this leotard for Kitri, a fierce and feisty female character in the ballet Don Quixote, based on Miguel de Cervantes’s novel, Don Quixote de la Mancha. Kitri is often clad in red and black flamenco-inspired garments, often featuring roses or red carnations, Spain’s national flower. Yumiko Takeshima’s work as a costume designer inspired the creation of this garment and its simplistic ornamentation.’
Tanvi created a hand embroidered design. Tanvi writes ‘The project I made is a hand-embroidered piece of a Daayan dancing Raas-Garba in honour of Durga. Daayan’s are known to be women who practice sacrificial magic and have long braids and long black claws used to fight. She is wearing a “chaniya choli” (sometimes called a “ghagra choli”), a traditional outfit for Garba, just in a modern style and dances with lamps. I chose a Daayan because they are seen as a curse in rural areas, and many innocent women have been persecuted before and continue to be so. However, there are many myths where these women look to Durga as a protector and only became Daayans as a form of revenge and as a way to free themselves from horrible situations. This is what I wanted to convey through my piece.’
What wonderful creations
I’m sure you’ll agree that the work the Ryerson students created is amazing. The range and variety of work is stunning. The participants in the Live Lab commented
‘These are wonderful creations. Well done!’
‘So inspiring and inspired”