Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Preview: Dancefest @ Nextfest 2010*

Featuring 13 new pieces by emerging dancers and choreographers from across Edmonton and beyond, Dancefest@Nextfest looks to showcase dance artists who are hungry to perform in a city with little to obsolete opportunities for professional development.

Curated by Cheryl Fontaine, a past graduate of the now defunct Grant MacEwan dance program and Simon Fraser University, this is the second year she's organizing the dance portion of Nextfest, incorporating mentorship opportunities through Victoria School of Performing & Visual Arts and Strathcona High School.

"From experience and from my friends, and knowing the community, there's not a lot of performing opportunities in Edmonton unless you're presenting yourself," says Fontaine, who teaches dance in St Albert and was one part of the troupe New Dance Collective. "The community is tight and feel we are quite supportive of each other, but if you want to continue performing, you have to do the festivals and present yourself or start a collective or start collaborating with other artists. A perfect example is the Good Women Collective, who are students coming back to Edmonton to work."

Offering a variety of styles, Fontaine says that there will be a range from works strictly about movement and appreciating dance for dance to works that will focus more on image.

"We're looking for interesting themes and creative movement," continues Fontaine. "We want something that can be developed. Nextfest is a stepping stone for artists to continue on further, so it's a good place to start and really important to support."

One of last year's Enbridge Nextfest Emerging Artists is Eryn Tempest, who will be premiering a brand new work-in-progress, Cellophane Sutures: Flooded As The Sea And Sinking.

Tempest, who just moved back from a year in Vancouver, has been working with video that she started making using ink in water during her stint out west, evoking tendrilly deep-sea creatures and shapes.

"It's the beginning of a process into something I'd like to do more work with. It's exploring the idea of traveling, inhabiting other new foreign spaces, uncharted land, and I think it has something to do with texture," she says.

As her third consecutive Nextfest experience, Tempest has channeled her time into creating lengthier, prepared works that stray from her experience in improvised movement.

"This year especially, I'm viewing it as a springboard into further research into things I have not done before. I guess I'm cashing in on the works in progress as a space to get feedback and trying out things."

Having danced for the past few years under choreographers Kathy Ochoa and Gerry Morita, Tempest is beginning to find her own voice, and this new work is a realization of that potential.

"Edmonton has a lot of opportunities for people who want to do whatever the hell they want to do without subscribing to a particular style," says Tempest, who found the Vancouver scene stifling. "I appreciate coming back and having the freedom to do the things I feel are important, and things that warrant further exploration—at least for myself."

Thu, Jun 3 – Sun, Jun 13
Featuring Dance First, Think Later, Dance or Die, Get Down and Dance
Roxy Theatre (10708 - 124 ST), $10 for full details

*First published in Vue Weekly

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