‘We’re only a bridge to the ideas’
Dance theatre company connects with rural Canada
Motus o dance Theatre artistic director and co-founder James Croker calls the dance troupe “Cirque du soleil without the budget.
“We tell stories through movement.”
The stouffville, ont.-based theatre company was at North Bay’s community waterfront park this weekend performing at summer in the Park.
Its show, Fair and Wide o Canada, looks at fair and festival life across Canada. It featured unique renditions of Canada’s anthem, as well as songs on such topics as poutine and farming equipment.
Croker was originally a sheepshearer in the australian outback who attended post-secondary school to study structural engineering.
“What I found out later through a series of motivational tests, the fellow said ‘oh you were interested in three-dimensional design,” he said. “What I didn’t realize, because I had no experience at all, is that dance is three-dimensional design.”
once he discovered his interest in the arts, Croker decided to “run away from home” and study at a theatre school in Montreal.
his parents’ reaction was better than he expected.
“My dad said something really quite beautiful. I’ll aways remember, because he grew up on the farm, he lived on the farm, he’d only ever seen two movies in his entire life,” Croker said. “he said ‘I don’t know what this dance thing is about, but if it’s anything like farming, then you got to diversify.’”
Croker has followed that advice. on top of being the artistic director, he is a performer, writer, music director and propmaster – his handiwork on the farm helped in that respect.
“If you can learn to be a good creator it can apply to everything,” he says.
This diversity spreads to his work, as well. on top of his company’s performances at rural festivals and fairs, on topics such as animals and farm machinery, he has worked with the royal Conservatory of Music and harvard to create curriculums based on movement.
“They found that they retained after two years 80 per cent of the concept if they embodied it. Whereas if they didn’t, if they just listened to it, they lost 80 per cent of the content within two weeks,” Croker said. Croker also works for hospices. “We take a person’s story and we improvise that story back with music and movement,” he said. “We also do it in live performances, bring someone up, get them to tell a story and we’ll improvise it back, the audience goes wild.”
and his audiences are not the typical crowd one would see at the theatre.
“It’s the farming community, the rural community, and they’re starting to rate shows. They say this one’s a 10 out of 10, this one I give a nine out of 10, which I think is wonderful cause that shows they’re invested,” Croker said.
“We’re only a bridge to the ideas.”
Motus O Dance Theatre performs at the Community Waterfront Park, Saturday.