Decidedly Jazz Dance is inviting audiences to take a ride into the experimental with their dancer-choreographed show, Velocity. Performed and choreographed by the long-running company’s members, Velocity is a chance to experience 10 emerging experiments by seven dancers grown from the seed of an idea and restrained only by one parameter: they must work with jazz music.
“It’s an extremely fast-paced process when you’re thinking of seven different people’s short works coming together,” says Velocity’s artistic director Catherine Hayward “We’ve been trying things, succeeding, failing, making discoveries along the way.”
Hayward, who is also performing in the show, says DJD’s bi-annual dancer-choreographed show is an opportunity for the company to try something in front of an audience and see how they will react. “That is information for a choreographer to then go back to the drawing board and say ‘OK, I have this seed of an idea. Did that communicate? Is that what I ultimately ended up saying?’”
Velocity is the first dancer-choreographed show taking place in DJD’s new home in the Beltline, which opened in spring of 2016. Hayward says the new facilities have provided the company with a unique opportunity for this show. “Often for a show you move into the theatre a few days before and that’s when you tech and do lights and all that sort of thing,” says Hayward. “But, with us being in the DJD space, we’ve had a few weeks throughout the nine-week process where we’ve been able to rehearse in the theatre.” This has allowed them to work with set pieces that wouldn’t work in a rehearsal space such as the heavy bass strings Hayward has flung across the stage for the opening piece.
For DJD, the dancer-choreographed show is a way to ensure the survival of and development of authentic jazz, but also provides an opportunity for audiences to see the dancers’ inspiration realized.
“Each piece is really unique: it has its own style, dynamics and rhythm,” says Hayward. “The choreographic inspiration is coming from life experiences, creatures, trees, robots, humans, rhythmic conversation and, of course, the music. We’re always trying to deeply investigate the music, find the nuances and the shifts and the spirit and those become a part of the piece as well.”
Velocity runs from Nov. 16-26 at the DJD Dance Centre. Tickets are available online at decidelyjazz.com or by calling 403-245-3544.
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By Fraser Tripp