Edmonton | Resourceful dancers explore the meaning of resilience in four separate ways

Jan 09 2020

“I think the idea that the body can be a mechanism for change in the world is becoming more and more apparent.” – dancer, choreographer Melanie Kloetzel

Photo by Tim Nguyen

Melanie Kloetzel is hoping that the revolution will be peaceful.

Okay, that’s really an unabashed attempt to grab your attention, and putting words in Kloetzel’s mouth.

Then again, sometimes art can hold a mirror up to everyday life and leave a thought-provoking statement in the reflection.

That is part of the process for Melanie Kloetzel, a dancer, choreographer and historian who found herself putting together a solo work for an upcoming collective anthology from ReLoCate, four dance works, all on the theme Resilience.

The show of four solo works is part of the ongoing season at Mile Zero Dance and plays Friday and Saturday night.

Kloetzel’s piece in the show takes a particular focus that’s quite different than the rest.

“It’s about concepts of protest, how we develop protest, and non-violent direct action. So it takes off from what protesting bodies have been like in the past and talks about how we can learn from them in the present.”

Fair enough, but how does someone translate an idea into the visual imagery of contemporary dance? As it turns out a few of these solo works are mixed media pieces – Kloetzel will incorporate her own spoken text in voice overs for instance – but dance is the central vehicle of expression.

“It’s part research project, part training and part temporal collision. There were a few starting points but I think the idea that the body can be a mechanism for change in the world is becoming more and more apparent. The idea of civil disobedience and having people in the streets is something we’re witnessing right now – like in the videos of people in Hong Kong – and I’m actually borrowing from what that body looks like on the street.”

American-born Kloetzel moved to Calgary 12 years ago to take advantage of academic opportunities at the University of Calgary. She holds a PhD in dance studies and a Masters degree in history and teaches both.

For Kloetzel the choreographer, it’s about watching, editing, exaggerating and shaping the movements of real life.

“A lot of it comes from finding pedestrian gestures, abstracting those pedestrian gestures, and exaggerating some of them to find out what’s at the root of these movements and why is it that this resilient figure of the body can be so powerful?”

Her project is also directly inspired by the writings of the late Gene Sharp, an American political scientist who focused on the study of non-violent action. (here’s to making the revolution peaceful).

The group behind it is called ReLoCate, a collective of four dancer-choreographers living in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver who set themselves up as a “tri-city exchange” in Kloetzel’s words. (the show plays all three cities).

“It’s so that mature, mid-career artists have an opportunity to show new work and to interact with their contemporaries in other cities. Everybody is making a work for themselves but the idea of resilience came about as a topic last spring.”

Among the other three works and dancers that make up the show Resilience: Marie France Forcier (also from Calgary) is focused more on the female body and its behaviour under situations of drastic objectification. James Gnam (Vancouver) will address challenges that hit a specific generation, for instance, how growing up during the “Cold War” shaped a generation’s ability to find sustainability. He will also use videos that he helped to create. Finally, Edmonton’s Thea Patterson will work with how concrete materials can be used to find resilience.

At the end of the show, all four dancers will come together for a single improvised piece that will spring from live music by Mile Zero Dance’s general manager Kelly Ruth. This also promises to be quite unique as she explains:

“I use contact microphones on my weaving loom and other fibre related tools. I am both a fibre artist and sound artist and integrate both mediums equally in my performance and installation practice.”

Ruth’s sound work ranges from ambient soundscapes to noise, and she has performed all over Canada. Last year she took her equipment for a residency in Iceland and performed in Berlin on the same trip. Learn more at her website.

ReLoCate performs Resilience at the Mile Zero Dance Spazio Performativo (10816 95 St.) 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $15 in advance from the MZD website or at the door.

MZD’s Dirt Buffet Cabaret

The next curated show from Mile Zero Dance happens later this month when Jordan Sabo aka Kidd Crimson hosts the company’s Dirt Buffet Cabaret, nothing less than A Vaudeville Revival, bringing a 21st century spin to the antiquated variety show concept with five different acts.

Somewhere between burlesque clowns and drag queens, there’s Lolita Mignon. Betsy Ryder brings her experience in multiple dance styles to another concept of burlesque. Add burlesque dancer Lucien Lapearl from The Glam A Rays. Finally, there’s Jay the Juggling Magician who goes for circus magic, and Tianna the Traveller “an international stunt woman and escape artist always in search of adventure” who has performed in 17 countries.

A Vaudeville Revival happens Thursday, Jan.23, also at MZD’s Spazio Performativo.

For further details see the MZD website.

— Edmonton Journal, ROGER LEVESQUE View Original