Dancing on the Edge Festival Begins This Week

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Credit: Joseph Michael Photography

Dance fans are in for a treat as Canada’s longest running dance festival, Dancing On The Edge, arrives in and around downtown Vancouver for 10 spectacular days from Jul. 3 to 12, 2014.

The festival will bring together the country’s brightest dance talents, with over 70 dance artists performing in 30 works during the festival period.

Dancing On The Edge will host nine world premieres and four BC or Canadian premieres. The festival will salute senior choreographers such as Deborah Hay, Christopher House, Tedd Robinson, Jennifer Mascall and Karen Jamieson, while providing opportunities for passionate younger artists Arash Khakpour, Vanessa Goodman, Lara Kramer, Deanna Peters, and Olivia C. Davies. New commissions for 2014 include works by Meghan Goodman, Karissa Barry and Yvonne Chartrand.

Ahead of festival launch, Vancity Buzz chats to founder Donna Spencer. Donna is also the Artistic Producer of Vancouver’s Firehall Arts Centre and her many theatre directorial credits include Chelsea Hotel, Vimy, Einstein’s Gift, Golden Child, The Yoko Ono Project, and Wawatay.

Donna Spencer

Donna Spencer

What can we expect from 2014’s Dancing On The Edge festival?

A lot of fabulous movement, along with a mix of choreography from very established choreographers to those who are now shaking the contemporary dance scene up with their style of movement, their choice of themes and their sheer energy and devotion to the craft.

Who are you personally looking most forward to see?

I have my favorites but they are secrets? I will enjoy it all. I love the invention required to create strong contemporary dance and while some of the work may not be as fully formed as others, I know that I will see seeds of invention in it all.

Credit: Guntar Kravis

Credit: Guntar Kravis

Are there any performers that you wanted in the festival but couldn’t take part?

Of course, there are performers that I would like to see at the festival for sure – I am like a kid in a candy store when it comes to looking at all the choices of choreographers and companies that could be a part of the festival – and like that kid in the candy store, I only have a certain allowance that I can spend on satisfying my sweet tooth for dance and that is the reason the bigger national and international companies are not here. Just as Compagnie Marie Chouinard has been part of the festival, I would love to see companies like Tanztheatre Wuppertal at the festival but, unfortunately, their fee is way beyond our festival’s budget.

How would you describe your role this year?

As Festival Producer, I choose and plan the programming for the festival and generally oversee the festival with the help of a wonderfully talented and supportive staff.

As a member of the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame, what are your thoughts on the entertainment industry in BC and where do you see it heading?

British Columbia has such a rich talent of dancers, actors, musicians, visual artists, creators and I don’t believe that our citizens and our Provincial government recognize the value of their contribution to our province. We are known internationally for our creativity in all artistic disciplines and yet at home many of our most talented go un-noticed and are often in precarious financial situations. Many of our most talented have to leave the province to make a living and this is not good for the overall economic and creative health of the province. Things do go in cycles and optimistically I predict that the cycle is turning to a more positive place where we will all stand proud and recognize what creativity and the arts contribute to B.C.

Which international dance production would you like to see here?

In central Canada, there is the presentation of a lot of the international work that I would like to see in B.C. so will say these are just some of the companies I would like to see in Vancouver – Tanztheatre Wuppertal, Nederlander Ballet, Bathsheva, les ballets C de la B, and the list goes on.

You’ve had such an amazing career in dance and theatre. What have been your highlights?

Too many to count!

Which of your works has been your biggest challenge?

Creating an arts centre that does challenging, invigorating and edgy work in a neighborhood that has a history of being challenging and edgy.

Do you enjoy TV talent shows like So You Think You Can Dance? and America’s Got Talent and how do you view them as a platform for discovering new talent?

No, I don’t really. I am sure there are some wonderful talents there but that is just not something I am interested in watching.

Finally, what are your goals for Dancing On The Edge 2015?

To connect artists and artistic works with audiences and to support the strengthening and ongoing development of contemporary dance for the enjoyment of all.

Credit: Joseph Michael Photography

Credit: Joseph Michael Photography

*End of interview*

Full program and show information at www.dancingontheedge.org

 

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About the author

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James Wong Entertainment Reporter for Vancity Buzz. James moved to Vancouver from London, England in January 2014.

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