Thursday, October 3, 2019

presented by REAson d'être productions

Framed by the enclosed white intimacy of a former classroom at Artscape, Young-place (Studio 103) REA'son d'être prodictions presents a haunting, at times lively, and beautifully moving portrait of two women moving across generations as they tell impressionistic, fragmented stories regarding trauma - past, present, and future. 

Created, choreographed, performed and directed by Kathleen Rea and Suzanne Liska, the hour long piece incorporates beautifully written segments that allow the dancers to express sentiments through an elegant and evocative form of dance theatre. 

Dramaturgy by Tristan R. Whiston contributes to an elegant and diverse approach to aural and visual narrative that employs both movement and voice. The two performers rise to the challenge with relentless energy and beautifully executed choreography - ranging from the elegant intermingling of bodies under duress, accompanied by beautifully arranged classical and choral sections, to the almost disco-like, pom pom inflected movement of two women dancing through the high energy, joy, and tribulations of complex lives. Sound design by Ference Szabo creates a varied and extremely engaging soundscape for words, music, and movement to exist within.
Moving among piles of clothing, first seen as a uniform heap of fabric, and then becoming a scattered array of signifying props, the setting reveals meaning within each chosen piece. 

The frequent positioning of the two characters as mothers in search of their children's clothing - as articles of everyday use and value - acts as an over arching object narrative representing the joy and the trauma of everyday existence.

Historical trauma also appears throughout, through the use of simple, elegant puppetry and voice over. Behind a sheet taken from the pile of clothing and hung as a screen, the performers move small figures and objects across the top edge as a voiceover tells iconic and tragic stories of loss by way of a heart wrenching tale of escape from the Soviet Gulag during WWII. People ripped suddenly ripped from their families is told in a startlingly effective fable-like way that holds great power, and provides a diverse element for the overall deftly varied dance/performance.

Other intersecting history-trauma memories include the horror of Japanese internment in Canada - stories of how lives filled with emotions and beloved belongings were torn apart and repositioned within traumatizing cultural environments that cross from generation to generation and continue to affect lives being lived in the 21st century.

A primary narrative force for these complex matters lies within the idea of handed down trauma. The historical and emotional basis for these storytelling elements are best described (see press release below) by the artists themselves as they work through a creative and personal process that has culminated in a beautifully conceived evening of dance theatre.

studio 103, ARTSCAPE Young-place - 180 Shaw Street, Toronto

- from REA'son d'être press release

Kathleen Rea & Suzanne Liska

Kathleen Rea, also a former psychotherapist, explains inherited ancestral trauma: "We pass on biological information to our children. Stress, trauma and malnutrition modify our genes, sending chemical signals turning them on or off. This changes the way we see, feel, taste and hear and deal with stress through up to five generations, getting less and less until the effect fades. The imprint of our elders and all they experienced before we were born lives inside us."

As a creator and dancer in Thread Bound, Suzanne Lisa explores the impact of the forced internment of her Japanese Canadian family during World War Two. 

Kathleen explores her family’s Eastern European World War Two experience which involved fleeing the Gulag concentration camps due to persecution for religious beliefs. Both Kathleen and Suzanne have been engaged in the life-long project of re-owning stories that they had been protected from when young and Thread Bound is the culmination of this process. 

Both artists are bound together in the search for these thin yet powerful threads. Thread Bound brings these stories and the imprint they still have on us into the public consciousness. To remember and express what has occurred in the past is relevant work in the face of rising worldwide forces that seek to persecute and disenfranchise based on religion and race. 
Thread Bound premieres amidst a national movement this year in 2019 calling for redress by the B.C. Government to expand on its 2012 apology for acts of racism again Japanese Canadians that "culminated in the province’s critical role in the forced removal, internment, confiscation of property, and forced exile of 22,000 Japanese Canadians during 1942 to 1949. " Many are asking for the provincial government to assume greater responsibility for the past injustices. They have also asked that Japanese Canadians be consulted to provide the community with a voice in developing recommendations for redress.
photos by Sarah Jones
Left - Suzanne Liska - Right - Kathleen Rea


SUZANNE LISKA (performer and co-creator) is a Certified Alexander Technique Teacher with a B.A., B.Ed, and MFA in Choreography. She has choreographed and danced in works for CanAsian KickStart, DanceWorks CoWorks, Dusk Dances, and Dance Matters, receiving grants and awards through York University, the Toronto Arts Council and Ontario Arts Council. Her upcoming projects include co-creation with Takako Segawa and Heidi Chan and “Dancing Across the Universe” choreographed by Kathleen Rea. Suzanne has taught workshops in Ottawa, Calgary, Tokyo, and BC and in Toronto for Randolph Performing Arts College, Ryerson University, George Brown and Humber College. She is contract faculty in York University’s Dance department.

 KATHLEEN REA (performer and co-creator) danced with Canada's Ballet Jorgen, National Ballet of Canada & Tiroler Landestheater (Austria). Kathleen is a certified instructor of the Melt Method (Hand and Feet) and teaches Contact Dance Improvisation at George Brown Dance. She has choreographed over 40 dance works and been nominated for five DORA awards. Her film Lapinthrope, co-produced with Alec Kinnear, won the Gold Award at the Festival Der Nationen (Austria). Kathleen is also a recipient of a K. M. Hunter Choreographic Award. Kathleen is a published author (“The Healing Dance”, Charles C. Thomas). She has a Master’s in Expressive Arts Therapy and is a Registered Psychotherapist (CRPO) with over fifteen years in private practice. In January 2015, Kathleen became a candidate teacher of the Axis Syllabus. Recently Kathleen graduated as a Brain Advancement Coach (Pyramid of Potential Method). She is the director of REAson d’etre dance productions, which produces both the Wednesday Dance Jam and the Contact Dance International Film Festival.

 TRISTAN R. WHISTON (Dramaturge) is a multi-disciplinary artist who has worked in Toronto’s arts community for over 25 years as a director, dramaturge, writer, performer, and community artist. Tristan has written and directed five audio documentaries for CBC; most notably, his work, Middle C, won the 2007 Premios Ondas Award for International Radio. As the Artist-in-Residence at Central Toronto Youth Services (2004 to 2010), Tristan directed Gender Play, a theatre project working with LGBTQ youth exploring experiences of gender identity. Tristan recently collaborated with Moynan King on an integrated art and sound performance piece called trace, which toured Canada in 2015. In 2016, Tristan travelled to England where he was dramaturge and performer on Hush, a new musical written by Alex Bulmer which was presented at the London International Festival of Theatre and at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.

 Maxine Heppner (Dance Coach), dance & inter-medial artist, mentor of choreographic process for over 40 years, Toronto-based since 1970’s, known for bold projects in Canada & worldwide, with companies, festivals, studios, academies, urban streets, rural villages, ranging from intimate chamber pieces to grand site-specific ensemble works, such as KRIMA! for 150 performers (Toronto’s top 10 dance shows 2009). Her practice is deeply connected in cutting edge contemporary arts of East Asia since 1989 through extended residencies continuing to today. Honours include recognitions worldwide, including commissions by 2004 Olympics, 2006 European Cities of Culture, Chalmers Senior Arts Fellowship, Japan Foundation award for international intermedial collaboration, 3 Toronto Dora awards. Artistic Director, Across Oceans Arts, Maxine facilitates the unique choreographers exchange “Choreographic Marathon” & platforms for deep research in creative process within dance & across disciplines. Maxine founded the dance dept of Claude Watson High School for Performing Arts (1983-87), led contemporary dance 14 years at the Koffler Centre, has been faculty at Concordia, York & University of Toronto. Her writings about creation, collaboration & process have been published in peer-reviewed journals & international conferences.

No comments:

Post a Comment