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Summer Company 2018 Post eight: The last one!

Updated: Jun 4, 2019

Hello hello!

Here we are finally, blog 8!

So much has happened in these eight transformative weeks! Let’s recap - we taught and performed at Riverside Elementary School, we performed at the Mississauga Waterfront Festival, at the Mississauga Living Arts Centre’s Canada Day celebration, at the Mississauga Ribfest, and at the Toronto Fringe Festival. We also created a dance film version of Checkmate at the Small Arms building. We took classes in stage combat, flying low, gaga, physical theatre and clown, as well as classes taught by several teachers in contemporary dance and improvisation techniques. Wow - that’s a lot to sort through and reflect on!

What have I learned? What will I take with me from this experience?

I’ve had my mind opened to areas that I want to investigate more – I spoke about this in another blog post, but physical theatre is something that really interests me and working on Checkmate and The Fall definitely solidified that for me. I’m curious about how, as dancers, we can connect to each other and our audience as human beings - I think dance can sometimes become very abstract and ethereal (which is beautiful!), but I find it fascinating when I’m able to relate to a performer on a candid, human level. I think seeking out physical theatre training would be a great way for me to ground myself and reconnect with myself as a human being, and incorporate this kind of presence into my own work and practice.

I’ve also learned what I want and need out of a warm up class. I find I get the most out of warm ups that take a while to develop, and I enjoy repetition. I prefer a warm up that helps me open up the mobility in my body, so I find myself more attracted to classes that are improvisation-based. I understand the value of technique classes, but I think because I don’t regularly train in technique classes anymore, I find that warm up classes with specific set exercises contribute to tension in my body and feelings of insecurity rather than preparing me for a day of dancing. Alternatively, I think I maybe just need to be more diligent about taking time to roll on the floor and wiggle my joints open before taking a more strictly technical class!

Having the opportunity to be part of so many diverse creation processes this summer has reminded me that I love creation! I love deeply investigating an idea and watching how it evolves from its inception to the end of the performance. I love having the opportunity to emotionally invest myself in a process, and being able to show a work that I feel proud of and care deeply about. Frog in Hand created an open, communicative environment where I felt valued and supported as a body, artist, and contributor, and I really appreciate that! I want to acknowledge this because it allowed me to take risks and dive deeply into the material in a way that wouldn’t have been possible in an environment I didn’t feel totally comfortable and supported in. Thank you Colleen!

Photo by Rosemary Snell

Additionally, writing these blog posts has really forced me to acknowledge my habits (like unnecessarily using the word really!), and has given me skills that I’m excited to apply to my academic writing. Until this summer, my writing experience was comprised almost exclusively of extremely academic science writing backed up by 30 peer reviewed sources, and illegible train-of-thought rambling in my journal. When Colleen proposed this blog, I was nervous - I’ve been actively avoiding this kind of writing because it is outside my comfort zone, but this blog has actually been a great opportunity for me to make mistakes and learn from them. Thank you to Colleen for all her support and impeccable editing skills! This has been a great learning experience for me, and I’m interested in further investigating how I can improve my writing style, and how I can apply this new knowledge to my academic writing as well.

That’s all for now, folks! It’s been a phenomenal eight weeks, and I’m very grateful for this whole experience. Thank you to Colleen and Frog in Hand for making this all possible, and thank you to YOU for reading all these posts! 

What's next? Frog in Hand will be remounting The Fall in November as part of the InSitu Festival at the Small Arms Building! I'm excited to see how the piece will evolve in a new site specific location, and to have the chance to perform it again. Keep an eye out for more information about these shows!

- Clarke Blair


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