I trained for many years, first in classical dance and then in modern dance technique. However, when I was twenty-four, I took a long leap into improvisation – an art form that demands both technical preparedness and open-mindedness — a leap I’ll never regret. I remain grateful for that earlier discipline and experience, and I retain the greatest respect for the traditions that laid the foundation of my creative adventuring.

In the years since, my work has evolved to become highly personal and expressive. I’ve had many opportunities to deepen my practice through the teaching and performing of dance. both solo and in collaboration with musicians and actors. But whether at home or abroad, improvisation is always at the heart of what I (or we) do.

In the course of my life I’ve become a dancer who also makes visual art and these forms of expression, so seemingly unalike, are intimately connected in my work: each feeds the other and provides for me the inspiration, energy and creative challenge that every artist aspires to.








      




Carpe Diem was a dance and sound collaboration improvised by myself and musicians Michael Hynes (piano), Andre Lafleur (double bass). and Jean René (viola de gamba) and staged as a once-only evening event.

In August 2020, we were experiencing a brief lull in the COVID-19 pandemic and I chose to stage Carpe Diem inside the yawning interior of a former dairy facility, now the home of La Crémèrie performance and exhibition centre in Sutton, Quebec. I lit this rough, powerfully industrial space with a scattered collection of table lamps that projected a contrasting air of quiet and comfort. The headlamps of an antique car shone eerily from the far end of a dim corridor while our socially-distanced audience entered and our crew greeted each while wearing masks based on the chilling paraphernalia of seventeenth-century plague doctors.

A wide circle of on-lookers formed in the dark as night fell. The musicians and I emerged from the gloomy recesses of the building  and improvised our first act.




I had decided in advance to migrate the event at a half-way point to a large adjoining space, but as I approached the closed double doors, Michael Hines, our keyboardist stationed for technical reasons on the far side, improvised a firm resistance. We continued our struggle until I broke through at last into a high, white-painted expanse hung with industrial chains supported from overhead trolleys that rumbled like thunder as we dragged them along their tracks.




Our audience followed and from moment to moment, all was spontaneity, the atmosphere palpable. It felt to me as though performers and audience were breathing together. I hung from the thick black chains and danced over the grey cement floor below.



The musicians supported me with their instruments and Jean René with his viola de gamba joined in a duet of shadows as I used a mop and pail of water to paint sweeping shapes on the concrete floor.

For improvisational artists, things sometimes simply come together — and when they do they can create heartfelt smiles and tears.

We had used the night — and seized the day.