Q&A with the stars of DVOTE, Noam Gagnon and Nova Bhattacharya

Everybody at The Cultch is thrilled to welcome Noam Gagnon from Vision Impure (Vancouver) and Nova Bhattacharya from Nova Dance (Toronto) for the world premiere of their show DVOTE! The last show of our 13/14 season promises to be memorable! DVOTE offers an intimate world where longing and hope are magnified by the effort to find a connection between what was, what is, and what will be. In this first collaboration, Noam and Nova investigate the topics of spirituality and sexuality. We got a chance to catch up with two of Canada’s most innovative dance artists for an interview about their artistic process and chemistry.

We know you come from completely different worlds with different dance genres and inspirations, how did you decide to work together?

Nova & Noam: Yes, we are both from galaxies far, far away! Seriously though, we are both dance artists and we aren’t the first ones to boldly go into the studio with the assumption that as such we could communicate with each other and with an audience. We had a choreographic idea, we played around with it in the studio, and we decided that there was something there worth pursuing.

What do you like the most about each other’s dance style, and were you following each other’s work before beginning to create this show together?

Noam: I had heard lots about Nova as she had worked with a few of very close colleagues of mine but I had never seen her work. What I liked about her when we first met is her humour and her wit.

Nova: I’ve been watching Noam since the 90s. I love his explosive energy and how visceral and passionate his dancing is.

As shown on the poster, you will wear masks during your performances, which will make you blind from each other. What does it symbolize and how did you manage to dance while being blind?

Nova: The masks started as a device to bring the two of us onto the same page. If we were both “blinded” and destabilized, we hoped it would create a common ground. They then evolved into a metaphoric statement: when are we hiding? When are we revealing? When is it voyeuristic?

Noam: As Nova said the way it started was to create a common state beyond our known personal style of dance. Dancing with it is probably one of the hardest and most challenging tasks I have had to do. It’s an untamed beast with a life of its own, unwilling to be tamed. As for the metaphor for me, it is to reveal what is behind “the mask” and attempt to express what is invisible to the naked eyes.

What was the hardest thing about working together coming from such different backgrounds (contemporary dance and Bharatanatyam)?

Noam: Our very different views on how to generate and develop the theme of a work, and having to face a world of opposites in regards to our methods of accumulating movements into phrasing, and into creating structure. We created a work independently from one another since we were in different cities and that was a new experience for me.

Nova: My technical training is in bharatanatyam but for well over a decade I have been immersed in contemporary practice and have collaborated with many artists including Peggy Baker, José Navas, Louis Laberge-Côté and others whose techniques are different from mine. So the hardest thing about working together was not about background, but probably just the fact that we were trying to create a work while living in two different cities. We had a series of residencies in B.C., Ontario, and Quebec – it’s a challenging way to work – only coming together for short intense bursts.

The show investigates subjects such as spirituality and sexuality, what kind of audience do you think would enjoy this dance piece?

Noam: I honestly have no idea on this one, as this process could not have been farther from anything I have ever known; but that said there is a lot of HEART in this work and I hope it connects with theirs.

Nova: Spirituality and sexuality are not so much the subject matter as they were elements of conversation and inspiration that we drew on amongst others. I hope that anyone who has loved, or has wanted to love, will be moved by the images in the work.

DVOTE starts tonight and runs until May 31 at the Historic Theatre. Tickets arts at $18 and can be purchased online or by calling the box office at 604.251.1363.