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Dancers Lilian Steiner and Ashley McLellan. Photo: Gregory Lorenzutti

Dance preview: Split at the National Arts Centre—10.24.19 to 10.26.19

By Madeline Paiva on October 21, 2019

Lucy Guerin Inc. brings Split to the National Arts Centre October 24th through 26th. I spoke with Lucy Guerin, Artistic Director, ahead of the company’s performances at the NAC.

The Australian dance company has quite a creative and innovative vision—often introducing new works with inventive choreography or differentiated music. Guerin said that “it’s a small company: we have 4 core staff including myself, a studio producer, and a company admin. The dancers are project by project. They come in when we’re creating the work. They are not full-time with the company. In another way, it gives a lot of flexibility for different projects.” She also said that “we have a lot of conversation around dance and a dialogue around the current concerns involving dance.”

Dancers Lilian Steiner and Ashley McLellan. Photo: Gregory Lorenzutti

The company’s works vary, but Guerin said that “generally, we make fairly small scale works. We have a new work coming up, a larger scale piece that is a collaboration with a heavy metal choir from Indonesia. There are 8 singers that use the techniques of heavy metal singing and they all collaborate with myself and 5 dancers. I think each project is quite unique and different but there are particular concerns that run through all the projects in terms of choreographic interests.”

Split is an exciting piece that has travelled well. “It’s been a very satisfying work to make. It’s had a really great response and at the end of this tour we’d have done it 70 times since it premiered two and a half years ago. It’s been a real pleasure and it’s a very simple structure but the material is quite difficult,” said Guerin. Specifically, the show is “a duet for two dancers; one is clothed and one is naked. These two dancers negotiate a diminishing space and a kind of containment of time. It’s really a response to this kind of closing down of its element. There are two different types of dance material in there. A lot of the material has been choreographed by me,” explained Guerin. The show is danced by Lilian Steiner and Ashley McLellan.

The first section is in very tight unison. There’s a kind of a feeling of two aspects of one person. At the first division, the material changes to be more dramatic and interactive and there are conflicting scenarios that arise.—Lucy Guerin, Artistic Director

The performance is made up of two sections. “The first section is in very tight unison. There’s a kind of a feeling of two aspects of one person. At the first division, the material changes to be more dramatic and interactive and there are conflicting scenarios that arise. It’s still stylized with dance. It becomes quite intense and quite dark,” she said. The music itself is another fascinating aspect of the show. Guerin explained that Split “has a musical score by a composer, Scanner, that is quite repetitive. The sections of dance are constantly evolving.” Scanner is a composer and sound designer from the UK.

The show draws quite a response from audiences. Guerin said “it’s one of those shows that once it starts, the audience gets very quiet and intense. It draws you in and creates a little bit of tension for the audience. People have quite strong reactions to it and they’re not all the same. They have slightly different responses to the show.” She later said that “people come up to me after the show and they’ve had a very strong reaction to the performance. It seems to be an amazing container for a lot of peoples experiences and emotions.”

Whatever dance communicates to you is absolutely fine. It’s not a test to see if you understood it or not!—Lucy Guerin, Artistic Director

Guerin and I had a wonderful discussion about the misconceptions about dance and people’s hesitance to see it, and she had phenomenal take on the issue. She said “I think some people are hesitant about dance because they are worried they won’t understand it. The important thing is to take from it what you get from it. I think that there’s a lot of different experiences through different sensory modes that an audience can get from watching dance—it’s not going to be the same for everyone.” Her final word of advice—“Whatever dance communicates to you is absolutely fine. It’s not a test to see if you understood it or not!”

On that note, come experience Split at the National Arts Centre—you won’t want to miss this!

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👀 G I V E A W A Y // This week, one of the world's most fearless #dance companies @lucyguerininc comes to #Ottawa with a show that will surely draw a response from audiences. . SPLIT is a duet for two dancers; one is clothed and one is naked. These two #dancers negotiate a diminishing space and a kind of containment of time all while moving to the percussive sound of British sonic artist @robinrimbaud aka Scanner. . We have two pairs of 🎟️ to the Oct. 26 performance at 8pm and will randomly select 2 winners by Wednesday. . TO ENTER 👇 1. Follow @apt613 2. Tag someone who should experience this performance with you! 3. ❤️ this post . Intrigued? The show runs Thursday through Saturday, and you can read the full preview with Artistic Director, Lucy Guerin, on apt613.ca now (link in bio) . 📸 Gregory Lorenzutti

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Lucy Guerin Inc. performs Split at the National Arts Centre October 24th-26th at 8pm in the Azrieli Studio. The performance runs approximately 50 mins with no intermission. Content warning: Nudity. Tickets are available online and are $31. Half-price student tickets and $15 Live Rush are available for this performance.