Mocean & Moore!

Thursday to Saturday, two generations of dancers share the Dunn Theatre spotlight: the renowned Claudia Moore (just a year away from her 60th birthday) and Halifax-based Mocean Dance. Energy, emotion and novelty are expected from those performing works choreographed by Tedd Robinson and James Kudelka. Arts East recently spoke with Mocean’s Interim Artistic Director Sara Coffin about this week’s celebration of contemporary dance.

 AE: What can audience members expect to see in Mocean Dance’s world premiere performance of Tedd Robinson's quartet?                                                                                                             
SC: In this brand new work, Robinson intertwines a traditional maritime soundscape with a striking contemporary imagery where the dancers manipulate over-sized canvas into whimsical and profound designs. The juxtaposition of the calming Celtic rhythm and the contagious kinetic movements is one of many examples of Robinson’s interplay of vigour and elegance. Quirky, intriguing yet subtly familiar, the world Robinson has created engages the audience emotionally through the physicality of the performers and poignant use of sculptural imagery. There are five sections in Canvas 5 x 5 and each section is a new interpretation of a common thread. Tedd recently described the work as a number of different viewpoints of the same painting. Canvas 5 x 5 displays blank canvases that move and dance through space where a number of delightful possibilities emerge and take shape for the dancers to play among.

AE: How has it been going with your brand new ensemble of dancers?
SC: Working in the studio with Jacinte Armstrong, Rhonda Baker, Susanne Chui and Ruth-Ellen Kroll-Jackson has been a real pleasure for me. Our process with Tedd Robinson began with a creative residency at his beautiful, picturesque retreat La B.A.R.N. (Beauty, Art, Retreat, Nature) in Litchfield, Quebec. Although the ensemble was already quite familiar with each other, these initial days really gelled the group and created a collective sense of patience, openness and inquisitiveness, which is how we approach the material being made. Witnessing Tedd work in the studio and how he translates his intentions to the dancers and to the room has been a real gift for me as fellow creator as well.

AE: How will Mocean Dance's mission (to present performances that are collaborative and that push boundaries) be expressed in this week's performances?
SC: Robinson’s use of a familiar Celtic soundscape paired with striking contemporary imagery would be an example of how a common framework can be stretched and explored.  Not succumbing to the traditional use of Celtic music, Robinson draws from his two cultural loves and blends both Scottish and Japanese imagery while adding a few maritime nuances.

AE: What is it like to have Mocean Dance share the stage with Claudia Moore this week?
SC: Claudia Moore is an established dance artist and performer who has had an extensive career. So, it is with delight Mocean Dance gets to share the stage with yet another one of Canada’s jewels in the contemporary dance scene. As one of the pieces Claudia is performing is created by Tedd Robinson as well, it will be a treat for the audience to see Tedd’s works performed on the same stage by an established artist such as Moore and by the younger, mid-career Mocean Dance performers.

Mocean and Moore: January 19-21 8pm at the Sir James Dunn Theatre, Halifax.
Photo: Holly Crooks

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