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Almanac 13: Dana Gingras/Animals Of Distinction (Montréal, Canada)

[alert heading=”The Contemporary Performance Almanac13″ type=”alert-info” block=”false” close=”false”]This post is part of a series of profiles on performance and performance makers from last year’s book, Contemporary Performance Almanac 2013, an overview of contemporary performance presented during the 2012/2013 season available for touring now. If you would like to be apart of this year’s book, Contemporary Performance Almanac 2015, you can join the project here.[/alert]

Dana Gingras/Animals Of Distinction
(Montréal, Canada)

Dana Gingras is an artist whose works have established her has a game-changing, boundary-pushing choreographer, performer and film-maker. As an artist it is Gingras’ goal to explore the full depths of interdisciplinary, personal, and physical collaboration: to amplify the sense of physical possibility, to show what bodies are capable of, and to allow this focus to manifest in the most innovative way possible. Through her multi-media performance company, Animals of Distinction, established in 2006, Dana has fostered the creation of cutting-edge works with innovative collaborations across all mediums and artistic practices, shaped by the possibilities of new technologies and cultural shifts. The company produced Smash Up, a collaboration with animators/programmer James Paterson and Amit Pitaru conceived as a collision between dance, animation and sound. Since the work’s premiere at the 2008 Festival TransAmériques it has been presented in various forms across Canada, the United States and Europe in traditional theatres, alternative venues and interactive design conferences. The company’s second full-length work, Heart As Arena (2011) features a site-specific radio installation by sound artist Anna Friz and in 2013 Heart As Arena: nocturne evolved out of this full length work. In addition Gingras has directed numerous short films including What Is Mine Is Yours for Let Them Eat LACMA an event at the Los Angeles County Museum Of Art in 2010 that was presented as a video/performance installation. Dana is an Associate Dance Artist of Canada’s National Arts Centre.

Disciplines: Performance, Dance, Film, Sound, Installation

Heart As Arena::nocturne
Heart as Arena (co production of the CanDance Network Creation Fund and Festival TransAmériques ) is a collaboration between choreographer Dana Gingras and sound artist Anna Friz. A full-length show for five dancers, with a suspended, tilted ‘arena’ of Crosley retro radios overhead, and a host of mid-century transistor radios on the floor manipulated by the dancers directly. Radios are triggered by dancers’ movements, dancers are propelled by the search for songs of love embedded in the static of the radiophonic landscape. The physically demanding choreography embodies the socio-technical relations of push and pull, desire, repulsion, and interference. The piece was born from direct experiences of longing and displacement; and from the paradoxes of intimacy and distance. The fundamental desire to connect, despite obstacles of time and distance, is a central paradigm of human communication. Heart as Arena: nocturne is a multimedia durational work for two performers which can be presented in traditional venues or as an installation in gallery spaces/alternative venues. The work explores ideas of receptivity, transmission, and the invisible language of electricity that animates heart, mind, and muscle. In the dream of the digital future, radio, like love and imperfect bodies, was supposed to be left behind in favour of more transcendental versions of wirelessness. What we find is that there is no such thing as dead air: the radio landscape is alive though connections are fragile and prone to interference, urgently vibrating with activity, temporary and unstable.

Keywords: Performance, Dance, Radio, Sound, Installation, Art

Production History: The Cultch (Vancouver), National Arts Centre (Ottawa), L’Agora de la Danse (Montréal), The Centennial Theatre (Sherbrooke), La Salle Multi (Québec City)



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Caden Manson is a director, media artist, and teacher. He is co-founder of the media ensemble and network, blog, and publisher, He has co-created, directed, video- and set designed 18 Big Art Group productions. Manson has shown video installations in Austria, Germany, NYC, and Portland; performed PAIN KILLER in Berlin, Singapore and Vietnam; Taught in Berlin, Rome, Paris, Montreal, NYC, and Bern; the ensemble has been co-produced by the Vienna Festival, Festival d’Automne a Paris, Hebbel Am Ufer, Rome’s La Vie de Festival, PS122, and Wexner Center for The Arts. Caden is a 2001 Foundation For Contemporary Art Fellow, is a 2002 Pew Fellow and a 2011 MacDowell Fellow. Writing has been published in PAJ, Theater Magazine, and Theater der Zeit. Caden is currently an associate professor and graduate directing option coordinator of The John Wells Directing Program at Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama.

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