Guest post by Eric Coates. Coates is the Artistic Director at GCTC.
When Sylvain Bouchard hits the floor in a Propeller Dance performance, the percussion of his body against the hard surface affects all the senses. It is not simply the sound of muscle against wood. There is a reverberation that the audience feels through the floor and it is hard not to project our fear of pain onto his prone body. Then he lifts his face and lights up the room with a smile that suggests transcendence. His impact with the floor is not an indignity, but an act of liberation, and he clearly relishes the moment.
Propeller Dance, under the artistic and executive co-directorship of Renata Soutter and Shara Weaver, is a company that consistently makes an offer while issuing a challenge. So says Renata in her notes on their latest piece, Living the
unDesirable Life, which premieres this week, presented by GCTC in association with Canada Scene. Here at GCTC, we have been delighted to share both our office and performance spaces with Propeller since they arrived as Resident Dance Company in 2014. Every day, it seems, we learn something new from them as they grow their practice with an artistic and administrative discipline that borders eerily on symbiosis. When it comes to truly ensemble work, Propeller wrote the book.
Since 2014, we have gotten to know these dancers as colleagues and friends, especially when they spill out of the rehearsal studio, exhausted, but flush with the pleasure of invention. I was initially shy of these encounters, but it soon became apparent that participation in not optional. Robert Chartier, a dancer of great sensitivity and strength, corrals me with a bear hug and updates me on his life. Moni Hoffman patiently gives me the lowdown on their rehearsal progress while I resist the urge to pat her service dog, the incredible Cyrus, and Bella Bowes provides a running commentary on her list of artistic activities outside of Propeller. Their lives are radically different from mine, both as artists and as citizens of a world that is slowly learning that accessibility is an imperative – not an option.
“The notion that ability only exists in one form is an insult to the realms of possibility that we all contain…”
Every interaction with these artists is an offering and a challenge, as Renata so eloquently states. This idea is implicit in the title of this premiere, as they ask us to explore our own preconceptions on desirability. The notion that ability only exists in one form is an insult to the realms of possibility that we all contain, and the artists of Propeller Dance will once again bring this to light with Living the
unDesirable Life. I urge anyone and everyone to accept the offer and take up the challenge of seeing their own life through the Propeller lens.
unDesirable Life is being performed June 23 & 24 at the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre (1233 Wellington St W) which is an accessible venue. Opening night has already sold out. Tickets cost $15–25 online. A talkback will follow the performance on Saturday June 24.
Accessibility note: We are especially excited that the performance will offer new options to increase accessibility, including an audio programme, ASL interpreters, assisted listening devices, and a limited number of sensory seats for people who are deaf and hard of hearing.