Movement and Music

It’s December now, and we’re really close to the world premiere of who we are in the dark next year. Peggy has completed choreographing for our seven fantastic dancers; and composers/musicians Sarah Neufeld and Jeremy Gara have completed their original score.

In this series of ultra-sneak peeks at this incredible new work, we’ve taken four short excerpts from the latest archival video, and asked Peggy to comment on the movement and the music in each one.

movement and music #1
”This is an early scene from the piece, and choreographically I’m working with the idea of form arising out of darkness. Energies funnel, eddy and swirl as ‘particles’ collide and coalesce; orbital pathways and rotational forces seem to be arranging the dancers. The sound is open and spare with a melody line threading through it. There is a sense that the music and the movement are in a state of emergence.”

movement and music #2
”In the aftermath of a violent and chaotic scene, two dancers – Kate Holden and David Norsworthy – are  suddenly thrown together. The push and pull between them reveals tensions and desires that cannot be resolved. Sarah Neufeld’s violin line feels to me as if it arises from their bodies.”

movement and music #3
”This scene is a bit of a rampage. The dancers advance in a single confrontational line that explodes and reforms. The music pushes forward with a tremendous pressure fuelled by Jeremy Gara’s playing. It makes me think of a mob advancing downhill and gaining a momentum they can’t control.“

movement and music #4
”These four women – Sarah Fregeau, Mairi Greig, Kate Holden and Sahara Morimoto – are linked together through an acknowledgement of losses suffered. They are there for each other. The deep listening among them offers condolence. The music offers comfort, its beauty is healing.”


The final step before our debut with Canadian Stage at the Bluma Appel on February 21 is a 6-day residency at the Betty Oliphant Theatre, where we’ll incorporate all of the design elements into the show: the set drops by John Heward, projections by Jeremy Mimnagh, costumes by Robyn Macdonald and lighting by Marc Parent.

All the details for performances of who we are in the dark in Toronto and on tour across Canada in February, March, and April 2019 are here on our website.

constant state of evolution: summer training

As a masterful dance educator, Peggy Baker invests deeply in the on-going practice of dance pedagogy and in artists honing their craft. With her upcoming annual Dance Educators' Seminar (August 7 - 10, 2018), and August Intensive (August 13 - 17, 2018), we asked her a few questions about what participants can expect.

A Q&A with Peggy on the Dance Educators' Seminar and August Intensive 2018

photo: jeremy mimnagh, dance educators' seminar 2017 

photo: jeremy mimnagh, dance educators' seminar 2017 

Can you tell us a little about what you enjoy about the Dance Educators’ Seminar? And the August Intensive?

I love the wide open exchange with colleagues during the Dance Educators’ Seminar – the refreshing stimulation of new materials, approaches, and points of view around working with students at different stages of training. It is also exceptional to have technique classes designed for practitioners who are primarily teachers rather than active dancers – classes that work with a high level of nuanced and sophisticated information, and well-considered physical demands. The August Intensive attracts a wide range of dancers concerned with expanding their physical and expressive capabilities. The mix of backgrounds and objectives creates an exciting context for coming together.

photo: makoto hirata, dance educators' seminar 2015

photo: makoto hirata, dance educators' seminar 2015

photo: makoto hirata, dance educators' seminar 2015

photo: makoto hirata, dance educators' seminar 2015

What sort of needs are you addressing when you develop the curriculum with the invited faculty?

Dance is in a constant state of evolution but fundamentally the underlying concerns are: how to develop capability and expertise; how to prepare for and recover from the extraordinary demands of class, rehearsal, performance; how to expand and deepen our artistry as teachers, performers, creators.

photo: jeremy mimnagh, august intensive 2017

photo: jeremy mimnagh, august intensive 2017

What kind of personal development do you see happen with participants in these programs?

Whenever we apply ourselves with awareness, intensity and a sense of purpose we make good progress. That’s why intensive workshops are so powerful – we all set aside the time and invest the energy.

photo: jeremy mimnagh, january 2018. peggy directing who we are in the dark, which will be taught in her repertoire workshops at the august intensive

photo: jeremy mimnagh, january 2018. peggy directing who we are in the dark, which will be taught in her repertoire workshops at the august intensive

What are you looking forward to about this year’s programs and your classes?

I am especially excited to have Sylvain Lafortune teaching partnering at both workshops this summer. A great dance artist, a masterful teacher, his approach is singular, and highly refined through many years of exploration and development, including a doctoral thesis on partnering. I look forward to Jennifer Bolt’s presentations on student transitions into and throughout high demand / high intensity pre-professional training as part of the Dance Educators’ Seminar. It is always a huge pleasure to welcome participants to the gorgeous studios of Canada’s National Ballet School, and to be able to offer classes by Christine Wright, and to work alongside dancers from my company.

photo: georgie donais, dance educators' seminar 2015

photo: georgie donais, dance educators' seminar 2015

Are there any tips or advice you would share with anyone who is interested in either program?

Don’t be afraid to jump in! There is a huge diversity in age and training among the participants, and the breadth of approaches is what makes these workshops so exciting and powerful.

photo: jeremy mimnagh, august intensive 2017

photo: jeremy mimnagh, august intensive 2017

photo: jeremy mimnagh, august intensive 2017

photo: jeremy mimnagh, august intensive 2017

The Dance Educators' Seminar (Aug 7 - 10, 2018) offers 4 full-days of workshops for dance educators.
The August Intensive (Aug 13 - 17, 2018) offers full stream, workshop, or drop-in options.

Fashioning A Body of Work: A Map By Years

By costume designer Caroline O’Brien

Caroline is curating a beautiful costume exhibit at The Theatre Centre as part of Map by Years from Feb 21-25.

I first met Peggy Baker when she arrived to the stage of the Betty Oliphant Theatre for a rehearsal with a group of ballet students.  I remember that day in the fall of 1989 as though it were yesterday; fast forward a few decades and now we are engaged in a project aptly entitled Map by Years.  That first meeting marked the beginning of an important collaboration that saw the fashioning of many one-of-a-kind costumes created for Ms. Baker over the arc of her 20 year solo career.

 
Peggy in  Brute . Costume by Jane Townsend. Photo by Lois Greenfield.

Peggy in Brute. Costume by Jane Townsend. Photo by Lois Greenfield.

vivian reiss.  Peggy,  2001 .  oil on canvas.

vivian reiss. Peggy, 2001oil on canvas.

 

Ms. Baker has always had a deep respect and appreciation for her collaborators, and the costume designers are no exception.  Now, as she maps the years with a beautiful array of dance, she has chosen to offer a retrospective of some of the singular works through some of their designers: Susan Macpherson, Denis Lavoie, Jane Townsend and myself, Caroline O’Brien.  During the 2018 performance at the Theatre Centre a spotlight will shine on some of the exquisite one of a kind costumes created for Ms. Baker, installed in the spacious second floor gallery that leads directly into the performance space.

 
Peggy in  Strand.  Costume by  Caroline O'Brien. Photo By V. Tony Hauser.

Peggy in Strand. Costume by  Caroline O'Brien. Photo By V. Tony Hauser.

 

The main narrative of the exhibition uses dressmakers’ stands to show finished costumes on display, as a way to emphasize the comprehensive design process with stages in the birth of each costume according to the style of each designer.  It follows a number of pieces from inception and initial design through cutting, sewing and after life.  This opportunity to showcase a collaborative process through different designers will include renderings, photographs, and archival documentation in addition to the garments themselves.

 
Peggy in  Non Coupable.  COstume by Susan Macpherson. Photo By Cylla Von Tiedemann.

Peggy in Non Coupable. COstume by Susan Macpherson. Photo By Cylla Von Tiedemann.

 
Peggy in  In a Landscape . Costume by Jane Townsend. Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann.

Peggy in In a Landscape. Costume by Jane Townsend. Photo by Cylla Von Tiedemann.

 

The intent of the exhibition is to offer elements of a creative process and the craft and making aspects that are often withheld from the audience’s purview.  It will offer new perspectives on the development and construction of singular and traditional dressmaking techniques and the skills required to fashion them, through the work of several designers.  Using a combination of visual and prose narratives, the exhibition is intended to deepen and broaden the viewer’s understanding of the creative and technical aspects of creating dance costumes.  The objects on view illustrate a valuable contribution to Canadian theatrical dance history.

Map by Years is running at The Theatre Centre Feb 21-25. Get your tickets here.

reflections on dance by Aleksandar Antonijevic

Aleksandar is a photographer based in Toronto and was commissioned to take the company portraits that you see across this website and in the Map by Years campaign.

 
Peggy Baker by Aleksandar Antonijevic

Peggy Baker by Aleksandar Antonijevic

 

During my time as a Principal Dancer with The National Ballet of Canada, the name Peggy Baker was always there, floating around in my consciousness. I did not know Peggy personally or her work, but for some reason I had an image of a uniquely gifted dancer with an established career in New York City. I was already interested in photography and I remember seeing images of an incredibly stunning body and face, taken by Cylla von Tiedemann, a renowned dance photographer.

I also remember going to a performance of the Spring Showcase at The National Ballet School and seeing a piece by Peggy, choreographed for the talented Jamie Tapper who later became a Principal Dancer with The National Ballet of Canada and Royal Ballet in London, UK. At the time I was impressed with how Peggy achieved such a mature statement from a young 16-year-old dancer.

 
KATE HOLDEN IN  PHASE SPACE.  Photo   by Aleksandar Antonijevic

KATE HOLDEN IN PHASE SPACE. Photo by Aleksandar Antonijevic

 

I was thrilled to be asked by Peggy to capture her wonderful company for their campaign (the individual portraits of each dancer, found here). What a treat to be collaborating with a humble, generous and open person as Peggy! It felt like a true dialogue, in which we could exchange ideas and create a space where these artists would allow an intrusive photographer with a big camera to enter a sacred, creative, and personal space and I felt that Peggy and myself created something really special together. We captured human beings at their most vulnerable and authentic, in the moment of truthful and honest creative expression.

Sahara Morimoto by Aleksandar Antonijevic

Sahara Morimoto by Aleksandar Antonijevic

 
mairi greig by aleksandar antonijevic

mairi greig by aleksandar antonijevic

I have had the privilege of capturing Peggy for a personal and very intimate portrait project as well, where I sat there with my camera, speechless and in awe of a wonderful and delicate and strong human being, who wasn’t afraid to share her life experiences, so openly and proudly and in the process allow me to feel stronger and more connected with life.

 
Peggy performing in Lisa Park's Eunoia II, nuit blanche 2016. Photo by Aleksandar Antonijevic

Peggy performing in Lisa Park's Eunoia II, nuit blanche 2016. Photo by Aleksandar Antonijevic

 

Last spring, I again witnessed something extraordinary at The National Ballet School’s Assemblée Internationale: Peggy created a piece for female students that I shall never forget! She, in her quiet, understated way, allowed the women to embody sensuality and space and take the audience to a place where time didn’t matter. The atmosphere we felt emanating from the stage was of established ballerinas working as a group, breathing as one, and mesmerizing us with their beauty and femininity.

What a gift to have an artist such as Peggy Baker amongst us in the city of Toronto, gracing us with her spirit and talent and letting us witness her lifelong dedication to art, music and expression!

Our featured image for Map by Years is of Peggy and was taken by Aleksandar. Get your tickets here to see Map by Years in February at the Theatre Centre!

www.aleksandarantonijevic.com