‘We’re only a bridge to the ideas’

Dance theatre com­pany con­nects with ru­ral Canada

North Bay Nugget - - NEWS - Michael Chen

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.”

MicHAEl cHEN / ThE NuggET

Mo­tus O Dance Theatre per­forms at the Com­mu­nity Water­front Park, Satur­day.

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