ARTS Coex­is­dance hits West Coast

The Georgia Straight - - Arts - By

TJanet Smith

he tem­plate for Coex­is­dance is simple: “No more than two dancers, no more than two mu­si­cians, at least one of each.” But the evening of live im­pro­vi­sa­tion, which started in Toronto and is now com­ing to Van­cou­ver, of­fers myr­iad sur­pris­ing pos­si­bil­i­ties when it takes place.

Hav­ing lived in the On­tario cap­i­tal, York Univer­sity dance grad Olivia C. Davies has taken part in the mixed pro­gram of short works more than a dozen times. And now she’s bring­ing it here as part of an am­bi­tious, wide-rang­ing res­i­dency at the Dance Cen­tre—one that finds her do­ing as much cu­ra­tion as cre­ation.

“I wit­nessed one Coex­is­dance and thought, ‘Wow, this is amaz­ing! This is so cool that I want to get in­volved,’” she tells the Straight over the phone from the Skwachàys Lodge, where the artist, of mixed Welsh, Métis, and Anishi­naabe her­itage, co­or­di­nates pro­grams.

Coex­is­dance was founded in Toronto by the late Colin Anthony in 2005, and it’s grown to have reg­u­lar events as far afield as Buf­falo and Zurich. The way it works, Davies ex­plains, is that the host puts out a call to artists. and those who want to par­tic­i­pate pick ei­ther a spe­cific mu­si­cian to work with or a cer­tain type of in­stru­men­tal­ist—from a harpist to an elec­tric gui­tarist. Or­ga­niz­ers then track down the right artist and hook them up with the dancer; Coex­is­dance gives the col­lab­o­ra­tors space to meet up and work with ideas for a few hours, and then they im­pro­vise a short piece for the show.

“I’m re­ally in­vig­o­rated about the spon­tane­ity that lives in im­pro­vi­sa­tional struc­tures and the op­por­tu­nity to work through con­cep­tual cu­riosi­ties,” says Davies, whose own O.dela Arts com­pany not only serves to de­velop her dance works but is a plat­form for ed­u­ca­tional work­shops and com­mu­nity-en­gaged projects. “They have seven minutes on-stage to ex­am­ine and ex­plore what­ever they want to ex­plore to­gether.”

Cu­ra­to­ri­ally, she’s also just as ex­cited to see, say, what hap­pens when a bu­toh dancer and a gui­tarist im­pro­vise work to­gether—which will be the case when dancer Salome Ni­eto and mu­si­cian-com­poser Jeff Younger hit the stage. Else­where, Ju­lia Carr, who codi­rects the Body Nar­ra­tives Col­lec­tive and has danced for Ae­riosa, joins singer and visual artist Carol Sawyer. “They’re us­ing voice and dance for inthe-mo­ment com­po­si­tion, and from an artis­tic point of view they’re both very fun,” says Davies. Con­tem­po­rary dance artist Em­malena Fredricks­son joins forces with com­poser and sound artist Ben Wylie. “He’s bring­ing a lot onto the stage—syn­the­siz­ers as well as in­stru­ments and a loop­ing pedal,” Davies says.

Other bold pair­ings in­clude con­tem­po­rary dancer Lori Ha­mar and vi­o­lin­ist Joshua Zubot, dance artist Sophie Bras­sard and gui­tarist­per­cus­sion­ist Rémi Thibault, and ae­rial artist Emily Long with singer Marisa Etchart.

Davies, who hopes to con­tinue Coex­is­dance, says the pay-whatyou-can event brings in new au­di­ences and re­veals the mul­ti­ple ways dancers can in­ter­pret a live score.

“It re­ally felt like this bridg­ing and deeper con­nect­ing of both of our worlds,” she says of dancers and mu­si­cians. “So it’s pro­vid­ing per­for­mance op­por­tu­ni­ties…and ex­plor­ing new ways of col­lab­o­rat­ing and get­ting in­spired. And that will build a rich­ness out of our prac­tices over­all.”

Watch for Davies to con­tinue to use her res­i­dency to build more bridges be­tween per­form­ers in work next year. In March, she and writer Rose­mary Ge­orge­son will helm Home: Our Way, a se­ries of women’s cre­ative writ­ing and dance work­shops, and then in June, she kicks off Ma­tri­archs Upris­ing, a week­end of per­for­mances and other events fo­cus­ing on women in the arts.

dA DEEPLY hu­man­is­tic core con­nects all of Ja­panese master Hirokazu Kore-eda’s work, no mat­ter how dif­fer­ent in tone or sub­ject. The writer-di­rec­tor’s most re­cent film, The Third Mur­der, un­rav­elled a com­plex homi­cide case with cold pre­ci­sion that re­vealed a beat­ing heart of com­pas­sion un­der­neath its po­lice pro­ce­dural. His new one in­volves crime as well, but of a very dif­fer­ent sort.

Sho­plift­ing is just one of the many low-key hus­tles as­so­ci­ated with one fam­ily on the leafy but still crowded out­skirts of Tokyo. Things are par­tic­u­larly cramped in the two-room apart­ment of a retired granny (Af­ter the Storm’s Kirin Kiki) who makes ev­ery­one hide when the land­lord comes around. She’s sup­posed to be there on her own, not bunk­ing down with her rough-talk­ing daugh­ter Nobuyo Shi­bata (cast stand­out Sakura Andô) and even shadier son-in-law Osamu (the quirk­ily named Lily Franky, who played the poorer dad in Kore-eda’s Like Father, Like Son).

On top of that, there’s teenage daugh­ter Aki (Mayu Mat­suoka), who works in a porn­tas­tic strip club, be­hind a one-way mir­ror. (Cus­tomers have to pay ex­tra to go in the real-life “chat room”.) And also sweet-na­tured pre­teen son Shota (Jyo Kairi), who sleeps in a cup­board with hoarded trin­kets, and whom Dad takes on those tit­u­lar store-raid­ing ex­pe­di­tions for snacks and toys.

No one’s go­ing to school and al- most ev­ery­one’s work­ing, al­beit at ten­u­ous jobs. Fi­nances, and floor space, are al­ready over­stretched when they take in neigh­bour Yuri (Miyu Sasaki), an adorable five-yearold ap­par­ently aban­doned by her abu­sive mother in the dead of win­ter. The Shi­batas do ev­ery­thing wrong, and yet they re­ally en­joy each other and things al­ways seem to work out for them. Un­til they don’t.

Along the way, our pa­tient di­rec­tor keeps drop­ping hints that these con­nec­tions might not be what they seem. In­deed, as we travel some other fa­mil­ial by­ways, as when “Grandma” vis­its her late ex-hus­band’s other off­spring, it be­comes clear how lit­tle, or much, blood re­la­tions can mean. Kore-eda al­ways casts a keen eye on the plight of chil­dren, and on the gen­eral left­be­hinds of a sup­pos­edly ad­vanced so­ci­ety. Here, in what might be his best pic­ture yet, he beau­ti­fully makes the case for picking your own par­ents.

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