Imagined Dance Becomes a Reality

Written by Georgia Rondos

In 2016, I received funding for the modern dance work, Moveable Walls. It was another of the annual summer shows Rondos Dance Theatre has produced, as a project-based dance company, of which I am Choreographer and Artistic Director. The annual performances showcase a new creation, as well as remounted choreography, and feature both local and professional dancers from across Canada. That same year we were fortunate to also receive an artsnb Residency grant for Liam Caines, for Moveable Walls. It is with this funding that the development and collaborations were possible to make this piece such a tremendous success.

I try, when possible, to work with local artists on projects. For Moveable Walls, I collaborated with visual artist Mary Fleet on the set. In her process of researching and working on the project Fleet had a dream, which she later described to me like this: 

The imagined set became reality, when my daughter and coworker Kleis and I drove to Blacks Harbour (twice) in search of discarded fisherman’s rope. We were fortunate to find a large garbage bin and we drove away with a trunk full of rope. Later in the week, I returned for a second time for more. In my driveway one sunny afternoon, we disentangled all the rope and rolled it up into big balls that were used as set pieces and incorporated into the choreography.

As an abstract piece, I explored both organic and industrial shapes, how they move and reverse, and from this, created a synergy and cohesion between the set and the dancers. The contour of the panels helped shape the movement, and the rope was manipulated and incorporated into the dance as well. I like my work to be characterized as expressive and physical. I like to reimagine the lines and style of classical dance in a current way. I often work with technique and convey an aesthetic characterized by ambiguity between classical and modern dance. I think this comes across in Moveable Walls.

The struggle often is the amount of time I have in the studio with all the dancers. Scheduling rehearsals where everyone is able to attend at all times is a complicated endeavor. For this particular project I only had, maybe, a couple of weeks in the studio with all dancers, so in anticipation of this, I began the choreographic process way in advance. By listening to the music many times over, I try to find the nuance and key expressive moments in the music, and try to find the appropriate movement. During this stage of the creative process there is a lot of note-taking and videotaping.

The year previous (2015) I was fortunate to have received a Creation grant from artsnb, I presented the renowned work entitled, Gwion Gwion, which featured an eclectic selection of local and invited dancers and original music by N.B. composer, Michael Doherty.

I was inspired for this piece while traveling to Australia, where I met Professor Emeritus Michael McGuire, a widely regarded author and expert on the cave paintings found in the Kimberly region of Western Australia. After returning home, I contacted Michael, and he was generous enough to send me pictures of the paintings from a rare and valuable book he owned, and a recording of him describing his work with the cave paintings. I thought his voice was good and quite strong, so we incorporated parts of it into the music composition.

In 2013, I received a Career Development grant from artsnb which assisted with the expenses in remounting a choreography titled Gnossiennes on The Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s (RWB) Aspirants. I traveled to Winnipeg on two separate occasions to teach and rehearse the dancers. The piece was performed as part of RWB’s On The Edge show.

Before leaving for Winnipeg, I was asked by the Telegraph Journal to write an article and to give an account of my residency.

Choreographies like Moveable Walls, Gwion Gwion, and Gnossiennes are just a few of the works which I have produced in New Brunswick. It is only with the help of grant agencies like artsnb that artists like myself are able to bring creative ideas into fruition.

We all remain hopeful that the provincial government will allot even more support to artists; theatre arts are a key indicator of health and are positive features of any growing human society. 

Presently I am imagining another choreography, and remain hopeful that the idea will become a reality by the end of next year.

Georgia Rondos, Artistic Director and Choreographer of Rondos Dance Theatre, is originally from Montreal, where she began her dance training. She moved to Saint John, New Brunswick with her family in 1996. Georgia has choreographed dance in the city for over two decades, she works with students, emerging artists and professionals. Her choreography aesthetic is both current and visionary.

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