Insights from the creative minds behind ‘Me So You So Me’: Tiffany Tregarthen & David Raymond

The Cultch is happy to be presenting the unique dance piece Me So You So Me by Out Innerspace until Mar 1, 2014.

Want to learn more about the creative process and influences behind the show? Check out the interview with creators Tiffany Tregarthen and David Raymond below!

I understand that Me So You So Me was highly influenced by the music of the renowned percussionist Asa Chang from Japan. Could you tell us how you discovered his work, and how it came to influence your dance piece?

We first were introduced to Asa Chang’s music in 2006 at the same time that we were living in Antwerp and creating the building blocks for our collaboration as Out Innerspace. Japanese percussionist Asa Chang founded the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra and later joined programmer and guitarist Hidehiko Urayama and tabla player U-zhaan to create genre defying music with a portable sound system called Jun-Ray Tronics. The percussive patterns of Japanese and English text with Indian tabla and experimental electronic sound production is composed meticulously in a way that transcends borders and predisposed ways of telling and listening to stories through music. The female and male text have an incredibly intricate rhythmic relationship that is conceptually rich and otherworldly.  We were blown away and collected every Asa song we could find.

Where did your inspiration for Me So You So Me come from?

Me So You So Me is plucked from our daily life as a couple, re-imagined through an eclecticism of hand-picked cultural, aesthetic, popular and personal influences. We collaged everything from the family dog, Popeye, Astro Boy, Araki Nobuyoshi, as DNA for our characters, as DNA for dance making. We watched a load of cartoons specifically for the accepted violence, animated psychosis and extreme story telling. Everyday we closed our eyes and listened to Asa’s music and described to each other what we felt and saw and everyday these emerging alter-egos invaded our domestic performances as a couple. Eventually even brushing our teeth and arguing became outrageous and therapeutic acts of dance research.

Can you describe how you worked in the studio, the methods you used?

In studio we pursued an almost dogmatic application of music in hopes that it would challenge us to create new movement vocabulary pushed by the unpredictability, density and richness of Asa’s composition. This extreme dedication to the music was at times a downright exhausting process but it asked us to focus deeply on the places and ways we find inspiration, the methods we use to take inspiration into creation, and the way we express and embody the result. We rely heavily on our contrastive voices and rigour to stretch our instincts and foundations and to commit to our imaginations. It was important to us to never once stop considering the body as an unlimited and unchartered resource for the music and our ideas to be physical.

How did you decide on the title for the show?

We wanted to challenge ourselves to expose real content of our relationship through loveable and lethal beings; caricatures of our inner monsters, children, animals…to show the ways we are most different or alike. We asked ourselves How do you see me? Who do I want to be to you, with you, for you?…and with a little help and time we titled the work Me So You So Me.

Will this experience change the way you create dance pieces in the future?

We were thrust into a new level of experimental and inventive territory by committing so wholly to the music and it has changed the way that we continue to make dance. Though we won’t always use music this way, we are thriving on the shared research process and language it has opened up to us.

Me So You So Me by Out Innerspace runs at The Cultch from until Mar 1 at the Historic Theatre. Tickets are from $18 and can be purchased online http://bit.ly/MAaAvA, or by calling the box office at 604.251.1363.

Love to perform? Seeking performers for this year’s IGNITE! Youth Festival!

“You can time travel through wonderland, but you can’t wonderland through time travel…”

 
Get ready because this year, IGNITE! Youth Festival is all about wonderland! For one whole week in May (May 2nd-10th) youth will take over The Cultch and transform it into what has become Vancouver’s largest youth driven festival!
To help bring the wonderland alive, The Cultch’s Youth Panel is looking for talented performers of all kinds ages 13-24 to audition. No wonderland is complete without the wild and wacky, beautiful and graceful, bizarre and a little ugly, the amazing, the heroic, the new, the old… well really anything at all!

So if you have an idea of a real slam-bang performance, come out to the auditions. You can meet The Cultch Youth Panel, show them a little of what you can do and have a real fun time. We asked Mati, Clare and Mark of The Cultch Youth Panel for their thoughts on the upcoming auditions:

What are you excited to see at auditions?

“All the new and original acts, hopefully something that I wouldn’t have thought of, and maybe some familiar acts from previous years!”-Mati

“Everything! Last year was my first time on Panel, and while I didn’t know what to expect from the auditions, I was totally blown away. And it looks like it’ll be even better this year!”- Clare

“I’m optimistically looking forward to seeing acts I would never thought I would like, but will immediately adore. Last year, we had an acrobatic act that completely blew me away. Before that I’d never had much interest in that kind of performance. I’m excited to see what I will get introduced to this year.”-Mark

Who do you hope shows up?

“Anyone and everyone, the more the better! Some cool bands would be wicked fun!”-Mati

“Ringo Starr and David Bowie. But they’re probably a little too old…
I’m looking forward to seeing all of the auditions, but especially the people who are doing something out-of-the-box. I want to see people with acts that I’ve never even imagined seeing!”-Clare

“I’d like to see some more electronic musicians audition simply because it’s always fascinating to see how they each work their live setup, which are incredibly varied. Also: interpretive dance.”-Mark

What would be the craziest coolest act you could imagine?

“I’d love to see a Mindless Self Indulgence cover band, that performs only in their underwear”-Mati

“Something with streamers and balloons and trapezes and magic. Like if Harry Potter was riding a unicycle. With balloons.”-Clare

“A domesticated penguin improv jazz ensemble.”-Mark

Anything else you want us to know about IGNITE this year?

“Come to auditions, come to our shows, stalk our website, stalk us!”-Mati

“Just that it’s going to be super rad! I’m getting really excited — last year’s festival was great, but this year’s is going to be EVEN BETTER.”-Clare

It’s going to be rowdy. Wear protective sunscreen and make sure you have an alibi.”-Mark

To sign up for your audition, email auditions@igniteyouthfest.ca by February 24. Auditions will be held March 8 and 9 at the Russian Hall. Can’t wait to see you there!

An interview with Alvin Erasga Tolentino about ‘Shifting Geography’

From Feb 18 – 22, The Cultch is happy to present the world premiere of Shifting Geography, a new international dance creation choreographed by Alvin Erasga Tolentino (Co.ERASGA ,Vancouver) and Rafaële Giovanola (COCOONDANCE, Bonn, Germany). Using Vancouver and Bonn as inspiration, Shifting Geography  explores the body as a geographical metaphor with which to inquire about one’s origin and pathway.

In preparation for the world premiere we’ve caught up with Alvin Erasga Tolentino, Co.ERASGA’s founder and co-choreographer for Shifting Geography, to get some insight about his collaboration with COCOON DANCE and his company’s residency at The Cultch.

Q) Could you tell us how your passion for dance started?
It all started in my native land of the Philippines
when I was introduced to cultural dances in elementary school. Since then my dance journey has taken on a path beyond my imagination.

Q) We know you studied ballet in Winnipeg for two years, what made you change to modern dance?
Well in fact, I was already trained in modern dance before I entered the ballet world, but coming to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet was one of the best pieces of training I’ve had giving me a solid foundation in dance technique and it also allowed me to choose which dance form I wanted to fully dedicate myself to.

Q) Shifting Geography is a co-creation with German dance company COCOONDANCE. Could you tell us how this collaboration first came together?
My relationship with Rafaële Giovanola, Artistic Director of COCOONDANCE began through an introduction by Martin Inthamoussu – a former dance member of COCOONDANCE. Martin and I met in 2005 after meeting at a dance festival in Venezuela. We also collaborated on a piece of work for Co.ERASGA in 2011 that was featured at a festival in Bonn, Germany hosted by COCOONDANCE. Needless to say, meeting Rafaële then provided the inspiration and initiative to create Shifting Geography.

Q) What was it like working with Rafaële Giovanola on this project?
Challenging, as we both have our own aesthetics, ideas, and vision. However, we are also very generous to one another. The creative process has reminded me of the importance of working without ego. It’s integral for collaborators to meet creative challenges by building trust with fellow dancers and doing our best to create the best work possible.

Q) You and your company had a residency at The Cultch, this past July, could you describe for us this experience and how this helped develop your upcoming show?
I was thrilled to return to the historic performance space at The Cultch since I have performed in the space so many times during my years of dancing for other companies since the early 90s. The residency this past summer provided my company and the creative team of Shifting Geography a chance to have a performance space that facilitated the direction and imagination of the work that we were developing. We opened several creative processes as well to the public during the residency providing insights into the creative process and conversation with the artists.

Q) What can audience members expect from this production?
Bringing together onstage six fabulous dancers with native roots from Spain, Taiwan, Canada, Germany, Uruguay, and Romania. The debut of Spanish composer Pablo Palacio. To present dance as a sense of search where the body describes the shifts of state and feelings. Dancers observe this transformation in and out of the body in between performance mode and in the act of being presence. The body becomes the geography of states.

Q) What does it mean to you to be an active member of the Philippines community and a dancer with this heritage?
Filipinos are now the third largest minority group in the country, I am happy to represent contemporary dance to the widest community and to share my work and embrace the multi-racial that makes up diversity in Canada. I honor being Filipino to know my roots, culture, and history but I exist and practice as an artist to provide creativity for all.

Shifting Geography by Co.ERASGA and COCOONDANCE runs at The Cultch from Feb 18-22 at the Historic Theatre. Tickets are from $18 and can be purchased online at: tickets.thecultch.com, or by calling the box office at 604.251.1363.

Part 2: Choreographer Victor Quijada shares the story behind his unique style of dance

This week we bring you the second part of our exclusive two-part interview with the award winning choreographer and creative director of RUBBERBANDance Group, Victor Quijada. His work, which examines human relationships through a seamless marriage of classical, contemporary, and urban aesthetics, is performed internationally.

In part two, Quijada shares with us the process of choreographing Gravity of Center ( opening at The Cultch Feb 19) as well as the process of adapting the stage production to film.

SC: Gravity of Center is the ninth work you’ve choreographed with RUBBERBANDance and many say that it’s perhaps your greatest work yet. What do you think sets this piece apart from your other works?

VQ: I think that it comes down to the fact that I simply had more experience when I created it, and a lot more practice. I had already tried out so many of my ideas, and all of those experiments with those old ideas (successful or not) were informing this new, bigger challenge. This piece really was a much bigger challenge that I had placed in front of me. However I was also more prepared and ready to take on this challenge.

Also, I had a great cast. Plus, my past experiences had taught me so much about casting and directing. Overall, I was a better director and a better choreographer during this creation. Also, I must say that having a great cast, and a great team of collaborators helped make this piece one of the best we’ve had.

This is the most narrative work I’ve ever made and I was surprised at how challenging it was to actually accomplish this. In the end, I’m very proud of it.

SC: Gravity of Center explores the idea that everyone is both at the center of the world and orbiting around others. Can you elaborate on this idea?

VQ: ,Simply put: At times we are followers, at other times we lead. There are moments when we take care of others, and moments when we are taken care of. We all want to be independent, but the truth is that we need each other. I believe this is true in the micro, as well as in the macro.

SC: How do you explore this idea through movement?

VQ: I was interested in behavioural phenomena that were found in both animals and in humans: herd and pack mentality, migratory and nomadic tendancies, and social hierarchy, specifically looking at dominant and submissive roles within a group.

SC: What was your inspiration when choreographing Gravity of Center?

VQ: I was inspired by my dancers, by composer Jasper Gahunia; my conversations with lighting designer Yan Lee Chan. I was also inspired by films and the craft of screenwriting.

SC: Can you talk about the process of adapting Gravity of Center from a stage performance to film? What were some of the challenges and considerations?

VQ: The biggest challenge was scaling down the 75 minute journey into a much smaller time frame. On the other hand I was very excited to work with Thibaut Duverneix as a co-director and with cinematographer Christophe Collette. I was confident that we would be able to achieve the contrasting sense of grandeur and subtlety in this film.

SC: How do you hope to inspire or transform Vancouver audiences when performing Gravity of Center on The Cultch stage?

VQ: I hope audiences get that feeling I get sometimes after seeing a great film that is so rich and so complete that I keep thinking about for days, weeks afterward. There are some films that keep me aware of my breathing, they keep me aware of my surroundings. They keep me on the lookout for something amazing to happen, or to take a chance to try something new, or to be ready for an adventure.

It’s as if in my brain I am saying, “Well, it happened in the film, and there was a writer that thought it up, and there was a director that brought it to life, and there were these talented actors that made me believe, so… VICTOR, DO SOMETHING!!”

Gravity of Centre runs at The Cultch February 19 – 23, 2013. Tickets start at $17 and can be purchased at tickets.thecultch.com, by phone at 604.251.1363, or in person at The Cultch Box Office, 1895 Venables St.

Spotlight: Three youths expose their thoughts behind the nine months of hard work organizing the IGNITE! Youth-Driven Arts Festival

By Robert Leveroos

IGNITE! Youth-Driven Arts Festival

A few members of the Youth Panel chillin' out

Next week from May 14th to 19th, The Cultch will be taken over by young people who will lead, coordinate, and perform in the IGNITE! Youth-Driven Arts Festival. The Cultch’s Youth Panel has been working on this festival for nine month and can’t wait for it to start.

But who is the Youth Panel?

The Youth Panel, the core of The Cultch’s Youth Program, is a group of approximately 25 young, artsy people who meet once a week to plan the IGNITE! Festival. During their nine months, they are introduced to all aspects of organizing a festival, from media relations to technical workshops. All the work, effort, and enthusiasm that the youth put into the project ends with one week full of amazing performances by young artists from around the Lower Mainland.

We asked some panel members a few questions about the Youth Panel and the Festival. Emma Atkinson and David Cowling are new Panel Members this year while Delan Elliot is one of our returning veterans. Here’s what they had to say:

What made you want to be a part of The Cultch’s Youth Panel?
David Cowling: I joined the Youth Panel to meet youth excited about the art scene in Vancouver. In high school, I was always deemed “the artsy kid,” which was fine, but I had no other artsy kids to talk arts with! Joining the Youth Panel was a great way to meet fellow active youth and grow friendships and ties with people I might not ever have met otherwise.

Delan Elliot: When I was 14 years old, I was considering attempting to create a live music event centered around youth and youth involvement in the community. At the time, I had neither the resources nor the time to accomplish it. When I was searching to see if anything similar existed, I found the IGNITE! Festival, and it then led me to the Youth Panel… I became more and more excited at the prospect of having a major role in the creation of a festival. I knew that by joining a group of other enthusiastic youth, I would have a better chance of creating something that I was proud of.

Emma Atkinson: My sister, Clare, participated in The Cultch’s theatre summer camp for youth this past summer, and while there, she heard about the Youth Panel. She was intrigued, and asked me to join her at the first meeting of the year. Curious as to how it worked, I tagged along and was sold from day one. The opportunity to be the creative mind behind a festival as neat as IGNITE! was what really got me, and it hasn’t disappointed.

What’s the best part of being on the Youth Panel?
DC: The best part about Youth Panel is getting to come back, once a week, to a place where I can be with friends and collaborate on how to create something as epic and grandiose as an arts festival. It’s like in school when you get paired up with other kids you don’t know to create a project, except your friends with everyone in your group, and your project is the coolest party in town.

EA: The incredible knowledge and experience I have gained in the various facets of curating an event like IGNITE! On a very fundamental level, the maturity I’ve gained as far as communication and teamwork goes has been utterly invaluable, and is something I know without a doubt I’ll take with me to everything I do, professionally and personally. As part of the fundraising committee, learning the ropes of approaching, pitching, and maintaining good professional relationships with sponsors and supporters of our festival is something I didn’t expect to get out of my experience on Youth Panel, and I’ve learned volumes in a very short period of time.

DE: I love the experience of seeing my hard work translate directly into a successful show, and I almost enjoy seeing other people watch the show more than I enjoy watching it myself. The final week deservedly feels like the culmination of nine months’ worth of planning and careful preparation.

Out of all the shows you’ve seen at The Cultch, which one made the biggest impression on you?
EA: Without a doubt, getting to see Nina Arsenault’s performance in The Silicone Diaries was one of the most special experiences of my life. Appreciating the simple but bold set design, as well as her complete openness with her life was a moving experience further emphasized by the chance to speak with Nina on a more personal level at a workshop we did with her, facilitated through The Cultch. Definitely an experience that will stick with me.

DC: The show that has left the biggest impression on me has to be Home Sweet Home, which was put on by Subject to Change last year. It was a very fun community bonding exercise, and something about the happy energy in the room during its exhibition has never left me, and somehow now represents The Cultch for me as well.

What has been your favourite activity so far this year?
DC: As a first year Youth Panel member, auditions were such a treat. I had no idea of the caliber of talent in this city that lies almost hidden in its youth. I had seen almost none of them perform before, but I would pay to see almost all of them perform again. Luckily I don’t have to; I can just go to IGNITE!

EA: As far as sheer pleasure goes, the audition process was phenomenal! It was the first instance when the festival started to feel real, and I got a clear vision of just how special it was going to be!

DE: My favourite activity by far has been hosting auditions. For an entire weekend, members of the Youth Panel all gathered in a rehearsal space and watched approximately 80 different acts perform in a diverse range of disciplines. The feeling you get as you watch a band that you really like perform and think “I would really love to see these guys again on stage” is truly fantastic.

IGNITE! Youth-Driven Arts Festival 2012
Why is this festival important to you?
EA: It’s so important that we give youth a platform from which to promote their art. For me, that is what will make it worth all the blood, sweat, and tears everyone at our wonderful panel has put into making this the best six days it can be. I think it’s also important to give youth thought-provoking and relatable art to view from the other side of the stage, as an audience. We’ve chosen a wide selection of diverse, unique acts with the goal that our audience will appreciate the massive spectrum of stuff that falls under the label “art”.

DC: This festival is important to me because it’s so refreshing to collaborate with a group of individuals who really care about what they are creating, and want to create something great. It’s an experience I know I don’t get enough of, and the Youth Panel is the best way to get a hit of it.

What have you learned about running an arts festival?
EA: It is WAY more work than one might expect! But also that it is so rewarding when things start to pull together and everyone supports it. As previously mentioned, I’ve learned volumes as far as sponsorship and promotion goes, and this is something I know I will take with me and apply to everything else I do.

DC: I’ve learned it takes a lot of work to put on an arts festival. A lot of work. But it’s so worth it. While I haven’t experienced it yet, I can’t wait to sit back and watch the culmination of everything we’ve put together over the past many months come together. It’s going to be a blast.

Which group are you MOST excited about in this year’s festival?
EA: This year’s line up is off the chain, and I’m pretty stoked on seeing the return of a favourite, Man Chat. But I’m also getting super excited about seeing DJ Michael Fraser rock it out with his violin!

DE: The olivia Project, which is a night of interdisciplinary performance. The olivia Project Committee commissions talented young artists in all different mediums to work in small groups of three to four people who then have a month to create a 10 minute piece. It’s a very unique night that’s different every year, and the sheer number of possibilities makes it my most anticipated night.

If there’s ONE thing you want our readers to know about this year’s festival, what would it be?
DC: If there’s one thing you should know, reader (yes, I’m talking to you), it’s that you (yes, YOU!) can join our Youth Panel (granted you’re somewhere between 13-24 years old) and experience all the excitement of putting on a festival, all without any previous experience or fancy resume. Just show up, check-in, and we’ll accept you unconditionally into our wings as another amazing youth putting on a remarkable festival.

DE: I have to pick one thing? Darn. I think I would want our readers to know that this year’s Finale Night is going to be incredible. We have put extra effort in this year to guarantee that the festival goes out with a bang. If you’re gonna come out and only watch one night, this is the one to see!

EA: That no matter what floats your boat, I can guarantee that IGNITE! has something to offer everyone in the way of music, theatre, art, you name it!

For more info:
www.igniteyouthfest.ca for the full schedule
www.facebook.com/IgniteArtsFest

Come join us at The Cultch May 14th-19th and meet the Youth Panel in action. Youth Tickets starting at just $2! To buy tickets, visit tickets.thecultch.com.