Meghan Goodman finds adventure in dance
Meghan Goodman will perform next with Dusk Dances at Dancing on the Edge July 4-6. (photo by Dan Cento)
Meghan Goodman, a Vancouver dancer and yoga teacher, has always been daring. “Since I was a kid, I’ve had a big sense of adventure,” she said in an interview with the Independent. “I loved biking fast, doing interesting things.”
Her predilection for adventure frequently informs her choices, even now. At school, she was torn between the arts and sciences. At university, she majored in dance and minored in math, but eventually dancing as a career won out. “Dancing is exciting and challenging, and it has a nice community of people doing it,” she said.
Dancing also offers a variety of jobs and the ability to schedule her professional life. And, it feeds her desire for perpetual learning.
“The more I dance, the more I learn. There is always something new to learn. Never a dull moment. I noticed that mature dancers can do more, maybe not physically, but they have more inner richness, know how to channel emotions. Dancing has been an interesting and educational journey for me. I would probably be bored with a regular job. I like that my every day is different; I like the fluctuations. There are busy times and free times. Some days, I have three jobs a day, but there are periods when I don’t have anything scheduled. Then, I can rest or travel.”
Her craving for new and stimulating experiences led her to Aeriosa Dance Society, a company that performs dancing in the air, or rather on walls of tall buildings and other vertical surfaces.
“I’ve been a member of Aeriosa for about five years,” said Goodman. “I had seen them perform … and thought it was amazing. When, before the Olympics, their director asked me if I wanted to join – of course, I said yes.”
She revels in aerial dancing. “I love it. I have six or seven contracts with Aeriosa every year, about one-third of all my jobs…. My highest performance with them was about two years ago in Toronto – we performed at the level of the 33rd storey. But, more often, it’s eight- or 10-storey buildings, like the Vancouver Public Library. Or sometimes it’s the trees. It takes a special type of person to perform in the air and lots of training. It needs a different technique than dancing on the floor, because of gravity. When we dance on a vertical surface, we use different muscles.”
Goodman also has her own company, which is an adventure in itself, like any small business. In 2008, she co-founded Body Narrative Collective (BNC) with two friends, one of whom left the company soon after. Julia Carr and Goodman still keep it running.
“We don’t even remember how we first met, Julia and I,” Goodman said, laughing. “Maybe we had classes together or performed together. Now, we have BNC together. A collective needs three people, so we always bring at least one other person for every project, maybe a composer or an artist, usually more than one. Our latest project, Dark Room, had over 20 people.”
She explained that BNC has an interdisciplinary focus, viewing various artistic disciplines through the lens of dance. “Julia is interested in photography, and Dark Room was a collaboration between photography and dance. We explored different photographic techniques by integrating dance and huge, blown-up images. The show premièred in December 2013.”
Another aspect of Goodman’s life is teaching yoga. She began practising yoga in 1998 and received her first teaching certificate in 2006. Seeking ways of working with a wider range of students, she began studying Iyengar yoga. In 2013, she completed the Iyengar Intro 2 teaching certification.
“Iyengar yoga is suitable for all ages,” she said. “It’s good for people who like precision, science and math, like me. We use lots of props – ropes, straps, blocks – and slow, careful movements, so everyone could benefit from a pose, study it. This kind of yoga is excellent for those recovering from injuries and surgeries.”
For Goodman, Iyengar yoga has become a path to stability. “It’s good for settling myself after the excitement of a dance or aerial performance. It feels still and calm, brings me into a quiet space, provides a balance for my dancing and my busy life.”
She teaches predominantly adult students. “When I was younger, I often taught kids – first tutoring at school, later dancing lessons. I like teaching but now I prefer teaching adults. It requires a different level of passing information. Mostly, I teach yoga but I still teach dance once in awhile, usually in specialized workshops. I taught a workshop of contemporary dance to figure skaters. They discovered that they compete better with some dancing training.”
“Dancing is always extra – extra income and extra joy.”
Goodman sees teaching yoga as her future. “Dancing doesn’t last forever, but yoga teachers get better with age, improve. I can practise and teach yoga in my eighties,” she said cheerfully. “Right now, teaching yoga adds security to my life. It pays the bills. Dancing is always extra – extra income and extra joy.”
Goodman’s next performance will be with Dusk Dances, a Toronto company specializing in dancing in parks and other outdoor spaces. Part of this year’s Dancing on the Edge festival, the free shows will take place in Portside Park from July 4-6, 7 p.m. For more information, visit meghangoodman.wordpress.com or dancingontheedge.org.
Olga Livshin is a Vancouver freelance writer. She can be reached at [email protected].