ArtsDance

Project InTandem celebrates the collaborative talents of Calgary’s female contemporary dance community

March is here, spring is just around the corner and what better way to celebrate the beginning of this new season than by supporting Calgary’s blooming dance scene. If that doesn’t entice you enough, it is also International Women’s Day this weekend, and Project InTandem is bringing you an all-female cast that embodies boldness, risk-taking and athletic awe in an exciting evening of contemporary dance featuring the works of local choreographers Meghann Michalsky and Sylvie Moquin.

After a momentous experience premiering the first Project InTandem show in 2017, Michalsky and Moquin were thrilled for the opportunities that presented themselves when they decided to produce the project again, but with brand new works. 

“We know what’s coming, and we have huge ambitions to make Project InTandem 2020 even better than our last production,” says the powerhouse duo. 

Although the two admit that it can be difficult to wear so many hats – administrators, producers, dancers, choreographers and brand consultants — they find the challenge thrilling and fulfilling. One of the greatest triumphs of self-producing this show, is being able to present in their dream venue: The GRAND in downtown Calgary. The beautiful theatre, was built in 1912 and offers itself as a space to create, think, dream, and grow – which is exactly what Meghann and Sylvie set out to do.

In terms of choreographic growth, both Michalsky and Moquin have seen a shift in their work since 2017. Moquin has recently engaged in a mentorship exchange with Karen Kaeja of Kaeja d’Dance. This artistic journey has led Moquin to become interested in investigating how bodies can support one another to fly, flip, spin and hover. 

“I am passionate about partner work, floor-work, rhythmic relationships and movement that is bold and challenging, but that also holds a great deal of grit, emotion and intention,” she says. “It is important to me that movement comes from a true and visceral place.”

Moquin’s piece — moving through, it all amounts to something — “uses circular repetition and visceral investigations to explore the universal concept of change and failure. What does it mean to change? What does failure inside of change feel like? How does it fit on one’s skin, shape the landscape of relationships and carve the architecture of the routes we take?” Moquin speaks of her personal relationship towards struggles with mental health, and how her interest in the effects of the mind and the power of thoughts gives her a sense of hope.

On the other hand, Michalsky has shifted her work to be informed by the body first instead of a theme or concept. Often described as vigorous, vivid, animalistic and interknit, Michalsky speaks to her work and interest in the human body. “I am fascinated with how the body is embedded with memory. I believe memory or experience cannot leave the musculature or nervous system. I have trust in the body. Therefore, I trust what my body repeatedly does and trust that’s where the work needs to go. I am interested in mixing sequential movement flow with dynamic power and explosive range. I work with a lot of tension, glitching, tremors in the body because this is the rigidity I’ve experienced through my traumas in this life and my past lives.”

Michalsky’s piece, Deep END, dives into the conflict between dancer and movement, where the dancer has to process in real-time, moment to moment. “Nothing worthwhile in life comes easily, so the structures that the dancers endure in this work shouldn’t either. This demands the dancers to ride these waves or the piece becomes too physically demanding.  Sensations will come and they will pass. How will we all ride the wave?”

Something that is important to both Michalsky and Moquin when creating work is to collaborate with female artists. Michalsky talks about the fact that her new piece is made for females. 

“My work focuses on a primal movement aesthetic, exploring the power of the female body through a state of nature (not tamed or domesticated),” Moquin says, adding, “there is such empowerment and sense of nurturing and care in the way (females) share space together in the creative process. Choosing to live an artistic life isn’t an easy one, and the journey we have gone through together has a sense of rally — that we are all in this together. I think together, we also feel a great sense of pride in providing opportunities to some of the amazing female artists in our city. They are incredible — and we are excited for Calgary to witness their strength and talent!”

Another important aspect to the creators of Project InTandem is building Calgary’s dance scene. “It’s very important to us, and it’s the reason Project InTandem was created in 2017. We were only getting opportunities to make five- to fifteen-minute length works and we wanted to take the next step in our creative careers to make longer work but no one was giving us that opportunity. So we created it. We believe it’s crucial in our city to give emerging artists the opportunity to create and be featured in evening length work and be a part of longer processes.”

They continue, “We want to give artists reasons to stay and thrive in Calgary. We also believe that, in order for Calgary to really be ‘on the map’ on a national-scale, we need to continue to be presenting and creating high caliber work in this city, and we hope we can play a part in that.”

(Photos courtesy Tim Nguyen.)

Project InTandem runs until March 5 to 7, in the Flanagan Theatre at The GRAND at 8 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at: https://www.showpass.com/project-intandem/.

Taylor Ritchie is a professional dancer, shaker and mover in Calgary. When she’s not performing or teaching dance, you can find her at many of the local performing arts shows in town.

Tags: