ARTS Coexisdance hits West Coast
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.