The presence of the Canadian Dance Assembly in Calgary has been an opportunity to join a dialogue that reaches across the country. Too often, the conversations focus on the centers east and west, with the rest of the country described as ‘regions’ which from the outset seems to make it a situation of ‘us’ and ‘them’. I am an artist who lives in Calgary and I love my home here. However, I don’t think of myself as a ‘prairie artist’ (the prairies as a location and/or natural environment are not featured in my work) and I resist the idea that anyone would categorize me as such. I wonder if it is possible to find a way to support artists who may be less visible nationally without separating them from the rest of the country.
In our own community in Calgary, my observation is that we are often unaware of the kind of work and initiatives that go on around us, or if we are aware, we allow it to continue unacknowledged. I was surprised to find W&M not just unmentioned in our brief community profile but lumped into a description of “several small dance companies”. When space was brought up, C-space was mentioned but W&M again, was not, though it is the rehearsal base for a number of the artists who were in the room. DSW was only mentioned briefly as having a festival. Both of these organizations have been making huge contributions to the milieu for decades. They both work from mid-range operating budgets. I looked around the room and realized that of our Calgary cohort in attendance, close to half have been supported through W&M programming; as dancers, choreographers, through workshops and education, or by utilizing subsidized space for their projects. I watched Melanie Kloetzel do months of work collecting statistics and organizing community meetings to develop a snapshot of the dance community, but her work also was not properly acknowledged by those who utilized it.
Someone asked Wojtek why they hadn’t heard of us despite our international work and our clear relationships with other artists in the room, and Wojtek replied with humour that we are too busy working. I would also add that as a dance community, we don’t promote or acknowledge each other’s good work nearly enough. Not to funders, not to each other. We don’t play well together, it seems to me. And that is something we can fix.
So, to other artists working here in Calgary who were not acknowledged yesterday (due to time limitations or other) for their artistic and other contributions to the scene, I want to mention by name Davida Monk, Tania Alvarado, all of DSW as well as the DAG artists, Anne Flynn for a list too long for this small space AND for starting the group “Building Community through Dance” (many years ago), Allara Gooliaf and Tara Blue of Three Left Feet (though Allara was briefly introduced yesterday), Linnea Swan (whose work is featured in the Fluid Fest), Rosanna Terraciano, Michéle Moss….but that is just a start. And to the large organizations that were mentioned, and to DJD for hosting the conference, THANK YOU for all you have contributed and continue to contribute.
To all, send us info, we would love to profile your work on our site. W&M