Vanessa Goodman is part of MascallDance’s OW, which premières at Dancing on the Edge. (photo from DOTE)
Audiences saw a glimpse of MascallDance’s OW last year at Dancing on the Edge. This year, the full work premiéres at the dance festival, with six performances July 6-14 at MascallDance’s home, in St. Paul’s Anglican Church downtown.
OW “analyzes timing, accents and rhythms of the sounds that erupt from the body as expressions, building a libretto of repeatable human emotions. Exploration is physically challenging and unpredictable; what has emerged to date is fast, rhythmic, often wildly funny and noisy,” explains MascallDance’s website.
Jewish community member Vanessa Goodman, artistic director and choreographer of dance company Action at a Distance, is one of the dancers in OW.
“One of the interests in the work that we keep coming back to is finding out how sound moves the body and how the body moves sound,” Goodman told the Independent. “As we dive deeper into the process, we are often faced with more questions about accessing the authentic experience of voice and movement. We started by exploring what sounds come from the body with specific physicalities and then also tried to see what happened physically when we made specific sounds.”
Goodman has been involved in the project since 2012, when MascallDance Society founder and artistic director Jennifer Mascall started doing research with her “to explore some of the thematic content that is present in OW,” said Goodman. “Then I was brought back into the process in January 2017 to continue with Walter [Kubanek], Eloi [Homier] and Anne [Cooper].”
The website notes that 17 dancers perform in the production. Also performing will be composer and violist Stefan Smulovitz and specialist in experimental voice D.B. Boyko.
“One of the inspirations for this work,” said Goodman, “was musicals – we watched a lot of clips from older films and observed the complexity of their compositions. They use tons of counter and polyrhythms, and our material was set so that we could achieve a similar result. What you are going to see is definitely not a typical musical formula, but, inside OW, some elements have been inspired by their compositions.”
Goodman has worked with Mascall before.
“My first experience with Jennifer was in 2005, when I was a student at SFU [Simon Fraser University] and she created a piece in my rep class exploring the voice of Glenn Gould. One of my favourite memories from that experience was that she watched the piece from the corner one day in rehearsal. It was one of our final runs before the show and, after watching, she declared that was how the work was meant to be seen, so we adjusted our ‘front’ to this new diagonal perspective. I loved this, as it allowed us to have a brand new experience inside the work and showed me that the creative process is always in a state of evolution.”
Working with Mascall “is fantastic,” said Goodman. “She has a deep practice of finding movement for the body from physiological systems. This is a vibrant place to work from, and I am also interested in anatomical processes and how they relate to movement.”
One of the most rewarding aspects of OW for Goodman has been working with all of the production’s collaborators. “Each artist involved on the team offers unique and critical information,” she said. “Performatively, this process has expanded my practice and has allowed me to discover new interests and curiosities.”
Dancing on the Edge runs July 5-14. For the schedule and tickets, visit dancingontheedge.org.