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
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
In the years since,
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
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.
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 —
when they do they can create heartfelt smiles and tears.
used the night — and seized the day.