Artist direc­tor danc­ing her way out

Week­end, Oc­to­ber 13-15, 2017 Davida Monk step­ping down from Dancers’ Stu­dio West Calgary

Metro Canada (Calgary) - - CALGARY - Aaron Chatha metro | Calgary

It’s been a heck­uva decade for Davida Monk, who will be step­ping down as artis­tic direc­tor after 10 years with Calgary’s Dancers’ Stu­dio West, fol­low­ing the end of this sea­son.

The stu­dio has been a key player in grow­ing the lo­cal dancers’ net­work and con­nect­ing it to na­tional talent. Dancers’ Stu­dio West’s main com­mit­ment has been in artist devel­op­ment, which made Monk the per­fect leader for the or­ga­ni­za­tion when she stepped into the artis­tic direc­tor role in 2008.

Monk ac­tu­ally stepped into the dance world rel­a­tively late in life — at the age of 25. She soon stud­ied un­der Peter Bone­ham, who de­vel­oped the first dance lab in Canada. Bone­ham’s lab was less in­ter­ested in high pro­duc­tion val­ues or tour­ing around the coun­try — in­stead he fo­cused on bring­ing the chore­og­ra­phers in to ex­per­i­ment to de­velop, which in turn also helped grow the ver­sa­til­ity of the dancers.

These lessons Monk car­ried with her through her ca­reer and into Dancers’ Stu­dio West. It was all about de­vel­op­ing a crit­i­cal eye in her dancers and chore­og­ra­phers.

“That means ed­u­cat­ing how to see, what we’re do­ing in the stu­dio, in process and fi­nal pro­duc­tion, and de­vel­op­ing a lan­guage that helps us see and an­a­lyze, and there­for be­ing able to tar­get prob­lem­atic as­pects of the cre­ative work and ad­dress those things,” Monk ex­plained.

“I work very hard through all our pro­gram­ming to help the artists step into a role of author­ity.”

Un­der Monk’s eye the group launched the Cy­cle of Res­i­den­cies, a pro­gram of sea­sonal cy­cle of chore­o­graphic res­i­den­cies aimed at get­ting ex­cit­ing work to the public, and the Dance Ac­tion Group, which formed a group of aes­thet­i­cally di­verse and ex­pe­ri­enced per­form­ers and chore­og­ra­phers who were ded­i­cated to crit­i­cal di­a­logue.

“Davida Monk leaves Dancers’ Stu­dio West with an in­cred­i­ble le­gacy,” said board pres­i­dent Me­gan Bal­lard.

“With her clear artis­tic vi­sion and so­phis­ti­cated artistry, Davida has nur­tured the dis­cov­ery of con­tem­po­rary dance for Calgary au­di­ences.”

But after 10 years, Monk feels she’s done all she can for the com­pany. Ar­tis­ti­cally and ad­min­is­tra­tively the com­pany is work­ing well, and it’s a se­cure time to let some­one else take the reigns.

“All the good work that I and my artis­tic co­horts have put into the com­pany will hope­fully at­tract a younger artis­tic direc­tor who can see ev­ery­one op­er­at­ing at a good level and be at­tracted to the po­ten­tial for what they can of­fer the com­mu­nity,” she ex­plained.

The search for a new artis­tic direc­tor is on, while Monk will fin­ish out the sea­son in April.

She hopes the move will also let her ded­i­cate more time to her craft, away from the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of lead­er­ship. As this cur­tain closes, she’s danc­ing her way out.

Courtesy tim NguyeN

Davida Monk in Hope is a Feath­ered thing from the 36th An­nual Al­berta Dance Fes­ti­val.

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