Daisy Thompson: Dance, Dreams and Walking on Walls

Daisy Thompson is a brilliant artist, freelance dancer, choreographer and teacher. I first became interested in Daisy when I saw Simon Fraser Universities fall repertory show The Fall Collection in which she presented a work entitled “As we rush to be.” The visceral energy and explosion of movement displayed by her dancers was absolutely captivating. I have only heard wonderful comments of her radiance and character. Likewise, my experience having her as a professor for contemporary technique has only been a positive one. One afternoon after taking her technique class I got the privilege to sit down with Daisy and interview her about her practice. I was feeling immensely grateful for snagging the opportunity to speak with her. A lot of what I had heard about Daisy resonated with me for I hope to pursue similar endeavors such as experimenting with choreographing, performing and teaching. We touched on a mosaic of topics particularly her life in the UK and how it differs from Vancouver, her process, her advice for emerging artists, her interest in interdisciplinary works and the profound affect of family. Dedication, bravery, altruism, and the desire for connection permeated her tales. I felt I could talk to her for hours. The more daisy spoke, the more my admiration grew for this brilliant lady.

Daisy Thompson, photographer: Peter Anderson (Courtesy of The Vancouver Training Society)

Daisy Thompson, photographer: Peter Anderson (Courtesy of The Vancouver Training Society)

R: Thank you very much for meeting with me today! I did a bit of research about you. I hope you don’t mind.

D: No worries!

R: So, you’re from the UK? Where in the UK are you from?

D: Stoke-On-Trent in Liverpool.

R: Do you like The Beatles?

D: Yeah, I do! I never get sick of hearing them.

R: Oh that’s excellent [laughter]. How was your experience in the art world in Stoke-On-Trent compared to the art world in Vancouver?

D: Actually I was living in London for quite a long time. That’s more where I was practicing. When I arrived here I was actually quite shocked. I don’t know how to say this without sounding awful. But it seemed a bit less current than what I had been used to. But that was just first impressions. I hadn’t yet delved deeper. I was mostly inside SFU where I was doing my masters. I suppose because I was living in England and traveled to Brussels, there are more surrounding countries. The practice evolves very quickly because of that. But I felt like in Vancouver because it’s quite isolated I didn’t feel as many outside artists travelling through. So, that was my first impression. But than after…quite quickly I realized there actually is quite a lot of very good current work being made. The difference is there isn’t a lot or as much transient traffic. So, it can be hard to get exposed to the different practices nationally and internationally in that sense. So, I changed my view. Where actually when I look deeper and go to performances in fact the work is quite current. Its just more self-development for training and being exposed to artists as they pass through.

R: That’s lovely.

D: And […] well I’ve been here what would’ve been four years this year and it seems like that’s already changing. Actually, I’ve seen there’s more people from other places coming through and giving workshops. Such as The Dance Centre and The Training Society of Vancouver. For instance when there are festivals on they are very good about getting artists from around the world to teach. -Like an artist from Finland or Israel-

R: Oh, that’s lovely. Do you find that in terms of where you’re from the trends come there first?

D: Well, you have North-America and you have Europe. So, there are different trends anyway. So, I don’t know what comes first or not. But I find ideas evolve more quickly because there’s more people, more traffic and more cultures. Ideas can evolve more quickly.

R: So, you attended a couple schools for dance?

D: Yes…I went to this place called Laban.  I went to a few places. I actually didn’t start dancing till I was 25.

R: You didn’t start dancing till you were 25? That’s so wonderful!

D: Yeah, I didn’t do anything as a child or anything at all. Mom couldn’t afford it. But I mean I partied a lot. I went to a lot of clubs. I definitely improvised a lot. I wasn’t afraid to just go through it. So, I always had a love for it and a friend took me to see a performance- a contemporary show- called ATTIC Dance. And…I thought wow this is incredible. There was quite a bit of floor work.

R: What was the name of the show?

D: I can’t remember the name of the show. But I believe the company might’ve been ATTIC dance. Well, anyway and I thought to myself I’m just going to do it, a basic dance course. Kind of like a foundation one. Two days a week. Didn’t really do much. But the teachers I had were awesome and I was really inspired by them. From there I went on to a slightly higher graded course called the high 20. That was four days a week and we did things like- contemporary, composition, improvisation, technique and it still was pretty basic. But the teacher there said you should really go for it. There’s something there. And I said you know I really want to I feel driven to it because I really enjoy it. And I always kept myself fit anyway and did things like Yoga. So, I suppose my facility for dance was there in a sense. I then auditioned for a place in Scotland for a course and I got in. And that was a year, full time course 8-6 everyday.  And by that time I was getting to be 28…So I thought ah, I need to do it. So I applied for Laban and I lied about my age because I thought that would count.  I got in. So I thought okay…this is it. I did three years.

R: Three years?

D: Yeah, three years. It was all really intense.

R: How old did you tell them you were?

D: Oh, 24. But yeah, they didn’t even mention it. I don’t think it was an issue because there were people there that were my age as well.

R: That’s lovely. What technique do you feel resonates with you the most?

D: So…I would say the first thing that comes to mind is contemporary. But that’s so broad. I’d say release technique. I feel if a teacher uses release in a class it can be used in a variety of ways. But that basis is where I learn naturally. It sort of comes to me because that’s where I started. So very semantic based teaching. Yeah, that one definitely resonates. Although, with the more formal ones I really love Cunningham.

R: You love Cunningham? Did you love it right away?

D: I did. I think it was because well I had a fantastic teacher. I think it was something to do because I had struggled with ballet because you know there’s all the heads, the hands and the intricacies there. Which is great when you’ve got it. But what I loved about Cunningham was that it was just dry in a sense. You know what I mean?

R: Yes, I absolutely know what you mean.

D: It’s not so ornate so it resonated with me better.

Also, we had a fantastic musician. He was an electronic musician.

R: Oh, that’s excellent. That would be amazing especially with Cunningham.

D: Yeah, no doubt.

R: So, I know you took a Bachelor of Arts and dance theatre- How was that different than just being a dance major?

D: It’s called dance theatre but in all honesty. I don’t understand why. Because in the three years that we were there…don’t get me wrong those three years were jam-packed. It was 8-8 everyday and on weekends.

R: 8-8 everyday? So, Monday- Friday?

D: Yeah, well the classes were 8-630 everyday and then you would be rehearsing after that. And on weekends you would be rehearsing. So you can’t load too much […] we did one little theatre course- like mime, mask and improvisation.

R: Did you feel that was helpful?

D: Yeah, well I enjoyed it.

R: Yeah, I love that sort of thing.

D: I really enjoyed it. Don’t get me wrong. We did a lot of performance training. Not verbal stuff not with text but they were interested in the different levels of projection that we have. I don’t know why it was called dance theatre. A lot of my choreographies that got in were not always very dance theatre based. But more abstract.

R: That’s interesting though. That sounds very dynamic. I was also wondering…I read a bit about the things that you did- that you were interested in yoga, Bartenieff fundamentals, improvisation, composition and released based technique. How do you feel those aspects have influenced your practice today?

D: Well, I use a lot of the Bartenieff fundamentals in class that we are doing.

R: Yeah.

D: The focus on the curves and spirals of the body. I mean there in a lot of the different semantic practices. So, I use that I’d say in the teaching. I am a practicing choreographer. At the moment I’m creating a piece that will be showing at The Dance Centre. It will be in April.

R: Oh wow.

D: just for International dance day. So, I’m rehearsing at the moment every week with seven beautiful, strong women and you know I use a lot of improvisation in my choreographic practice. And the piece that I’m actually…sorry this might sound contradictory but the piece I’m making at the moment at this stage is going to be half set, half improvised. There’s just something about the spontaneity that I enjoy in a performance. But also I find it hard when you set up an improvisation- those moments are amazing but you can’t recapture those moments. So, you think how did that moment happen? What was its structure? You know, that sort of helped. Just refining structure rather than just stiff movements[…] and yoga and that is just a daily practice.

R: How was your schedule structured in Laban?

D: You’d have a ballet class and contemporary class every day in the morning. You’d either have contemporary first or ballet then contemporary- alternated. And in the afternoon you’d have another contemporary class. And then probably have composition class and a performance class. Yeah, there were a lot of classes in the day

D: Also…I can’t remember exactly what we called them- rep class yeah?

R: yeah.

D: Yeah, rep class. So obviously it was different each term but you’d probably do at least 2 or 3 techniques a day. Oh and improvisation as well like twice a week at least 3 hour classes.

R: I wish there was more emphasis on that here. That’s my favorite. I think choreographing and improvising are some of my favorite. I do love taking technique class too but I find I resonate with that more. Because sometimes in technique I am so anxious to do it in the same way they did.

D: Yeah, and for me when I was and even now actually if I take class or whatever its in the improvisation that I can really use that. Cause I’m not one of those people that can fit into people’s phrases so easily. But as long as I understand there fundamentals, those values will come out again in the improvisation. I might feel down in a technique class thinking awe no, I’m so rubbish. I didn’t get that. But then I’ll be improvising and think oh cool I’m doing it how I’m doing it you know. It’s funny isn’t it? But sometimes it’s the opposite where some people are great in technique class and you’ll see them in improvise and they’ll struggle.

R: That’s very true. Yeah, a lot of the things I read about you I thought to myself oh me too [laughter]! I’d like to delve into that more. How did you get into choreographing?

D: I think I mentioned in the very beginning with those foundation courses I [found when] it came to the creative class and I just found it easy?

R: Yeah.

D: It was just a relaxing place to be and the challenge was great. And as I went through the different courses and when it got to the degree, when it got to Laban and there was a chance to get your work to be seen in the theatre I just thought, wow! Yeah, I was always into it…it just came naturally. And then its funny you know I left Laban and said yeah I’m going to go for choreography and actually ended being a dancer for a few years and that sort of shocked me. But it was good to do that. And now I don’t care if I get into the best [companies] or not I just need to keep making.

R: That’s beautiful. Yeah, I always find in a class when they tell us to go create something I think oh excellent! What first inspired you to be an artist and choose dance as one of your main disciplines?

D: So, I was working in the restaurant business. I was managing in restaurants.

R: Oh yeah, I work in a restaurant.

D: I’ve always been. Maybe that’s why I like [people]. I’ve always been quite an organizer. I like organizing and schedules [laughter]. Anyway, I got to the point where I was kind of bored with the management and it was either I start my own little restaurant or what? And then I thought I don’t have money to do my own anyway. All my friends were artists…a lot of them were musicians and visual artists. I didn’t actually have many dance friends at the time. I just thought I’ve always been drawn to the creative side…I don’t know why dance. I just always liked dancing. I know this sounds bizarre. But I saw that piece and thought how awesome it was. I decided I love dance I should just do a dance course. It was literally that.

R: yeah!

D: and then one thing lead to the other.

R: Yeah, it was interesting when it never occurred to me it never really was a decision for me [to choose dance]. I just felt this is something that I need to do. But also I think being exposed to it and watching my sister growing up influenced me a great deal.

D: yeah.

R: So, you took your masters of fine arts here at Simon Fraser- cause you wanted to deepen your interest in inter-disciplinary practice?

D: Yes.

R: Why did you choose SFU and how was your experience?

D: I chose SFU…for one because it’s got a fairly good reputation.

D: I’ll reiterate. Well you know it’s so isolated. There’s a dance company in Belgium you may have heard of it. Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker. I had a friend’s son whose Canadian in [….] dancing. And I was moving to Canada anyway because my husband was moving here. We weren’t married at the time. And I said to him I really want to come with you. And he said come with me. But [I told him] I don’t want to just come for just you. You know what I mean?

R: Yeah.

D: There’s got to be something else. You know independent woman and all that. And I was talking to my friend and he said oh you should check out SFU since you’re going to Vancouver. I hear they have a good Masters. He did his training here years ago. And so I checked it out and then I read bio’s about the faculty, did a bit of research, spoke to past students. And thought yes, that sounds good -there’s different disciplines on the course and the academic discipline as well. And it was just appealing. I wanted to strengthen my scholarship as well. I am practice based first but I also am interested in moving and writing…not necessarily as a big practice but it was something I wanted to further. So, I spoke to Henry Daniel actually and what he said about the course just encouraged me to come more.

And my experience with it? I did enjoy it. I liked the fact that it was quiet. I know you’re in a group. But it’s very independently led. You do have classes you have to attend. But you do your own research- it’s really you doing it. It’s not a massively taught MFA. So, you can get somewhere […] so I liked that and the faculty were all really helpful. At the same time I lacked a bit of cohesion with the group. I came here thinking I’m in a group. How can we use each other? So, the interdisciplinary aspect didn’t really happen. I found I was still quite immersed in dance whether that’s the institution or whether that’s our group, I don’t know.

R: Yeah.

D: But definitely overall it was a great experience. I got to teach this course. It’s fantastic.

R: Oh absolutely an honour. So, how intense was the program?

D: I think it’s how intense you make it. Or which emphasis you put on it. It was really intense for me because we had to write two big essays. And you don’t really get trained to do that it was all about dance training at Laban. I think in the three years I wrote two small essays. In two of the terms I was stressed as hell. We were all working hard. I had to put a lot of work into it. You know I was TA-ing as well as acting as a research assistant.

R: oh, my goodness.

D: I was just working a lot. Very intense but when it came to the practical project. It didn’t feel as intense because you’re having fun again because you’re going back to home to what you feel good at. Actually the last major piece that I did it didn’t feel intense it just felt like working you know? You have a day you’re rehearsing. It felt like it was like my company and my practice was really pushed. It was really great in an academic institution.

Daisy Thompson during a rehearsal process (Courtesy of SCA News-SFU)

Daisy Thompson during a rehearsal process (Courtesy of SCA News-SFU)

R: What was your last piece called…remarks on source material?

D: Yeah.

R: I read a bit about that. There was one synopsis that I really loved. It really resonated with me. You spoke of the complexities of belonging. Why do you feel this notion is important?

D: So my masters was about how we can democratize…creative educational spaces in dance. I’ve only started to work on this right now in technique actually. But how can we teach so everyone is empowered individually? So, its not about what you’re doing wrong. But also getting people to start thinking- What am I working on? What am I doing? Making it more of a collaborative environment and empowering individuals, students and helping them realize- I’m here for you. I know you’re being assessed and graded but how can I help you remember that you’re here for you. But I concentrated more on the creative process so it was very collaborative. So, when you think about that and you’ve got individuals in the room working collaboratively. You’ve got individual experiences and histories and then you’ve got the entire social context on top of that, all the judgments and everything. It’s a very complex environment to be in. How do you empower an individual to feel like they belong in that environment?

R: Especially when sometimes we have such a negative self- bias when you’re working on such a craft.

D: Yeah, exactly. You know I worked very much on the process…you know the piece it didn’t matter how it turned out for me it was more about the process.

R: How very post-modern of you.

D: [laughter] Yes, totally trained by them. But no, it’s true. I’m going to try and continue with those idea’s. So I read that I think it was a Canadian…no wait…I wrote that. Yeah that wasn’t a quote that was mine [laughter]. I am influenced by lots.

R: I love that.

D: So yeah…then just thinking about the process and looking at how the movement was evolving and it was very much a group, individual, against, togetherness.  We talked in the process what it meant to be in a community and the idea- if the audience is a community and the performers are another community. How do you invite them into your community? So it was lots of talk like this and if you look into a social setting as well…immigration…all these things. Integrating…accepting another culture into your culture. Draw back even further by simply looking at the creative process that it’s a one on one relationship and even thinking about the power struggles that are in there. You know you’ve got the choreographer and you’ve got the dancers. How do you flatten that hierarchical structure? The challenge that was there for me was okay…how can I flatten this structure but at the same time remain the leader. I believe in leadership and we need leadership. I never got an answer. It was a constant working with okay…now they’re asking things of me…I need to take charge…okay now… I need to step back. It’s fluid. It’s constantly fluid. Then you’re dealing with well someone may have gotten out of the bed the wrong way. You’re looking at them, you’re trying to assess. So, yeah coming back to the complexities of belonging- yeah there’s a great deal of substance in that.

R: That is interesting. I did a piece in the fall a duet where I had written spoken word poetry and recited it at the same time we were dancing. Kind of a long the same idea’s of belonging…or it was more about balance and that sort of thing. So, I find that very intriguing.

R: So, yes In terms of choreographing I know you’ve touched on this a bit but what is your preferred mode of process? Do you primarily use improvisation or do you have different exercises?

D: Yeah, definitely improvisation. I believe the first thing when I go into the studio I want all of us to get to know each other. So, I don’t delve straight into the work. Or I might have an exercise where the idea is there. But I won’t necessarily reveal that straight away. So, one of the things that I’m doing with this group…one of the first things we do was a seven minute solo with everyone watching. No structure, no nothing.

That’s just an example.  So, if I’ve got ten rehearsals, which I had here when I choreographed for rep. I will use two of those rehearsals purely just getting to know each other. For me it’s about connecting as a group. It’s all improvisation actually. It’s about me seeing the individual. And then I can say all right, good whom am I working and what am I working with?  Instead of trying to fit everyone in one spot. And actually I tend to do a lot of unison in my work.

D: So the unison evolves. The dancers make all the movements as well. I don’t make any. I just pick it apart, tear it apart, and rearrange it. I get the dancers to teach each other. So, I don’t necessarily know the movement either. And what I’m interested in about that is the sharing and the language and the empowerment again. So, when it comes to the performances they own the work. I feel that’s very important.

R: Yeah, I feel that’s very important. It creates a stronger relationship to the movement and the choreographer. I absolutely love choreographing ever since I was little.

D: So, that’s where you want to go?

R: Yeah, actually a lot of the things you’ve talked about…are all things I want to do [laughter]. Do you have any advice for emerging artists looking to pursue similar endeavors?

D: Emerging is…well I’m emerging…I don’t know how long one is emerging for? But I suppose I feel like I am an experienced emerging rather than just starting emerging. You know what I mean [laughter]?

R: Yeah.

D:I just think from the get go one thing I do especially in composition and technique actually is I say why did I start?  Ask yourself why am I here? You know you need to, especially in SFU. It’s hard cause a lot of you are doing so much. You have so many things other than dance. Get out there in the community as much as you can.

R: Yeah.

D: Community projects… if you can go to classes as much as possible. Which I know is difficult. I would do that. Maybe at a little bit of expense to your degree at the end but it’s not really to your expense. Yeah, once you leave you’re starting again. When I finished my degree I thought…wow…it’s true I’m starting again. It’s a different kind of training. You have no framework so you have to be very disciplined. So, even though we’re already disciplined in our training we have that framework. We have to be here, we have to do this and that. You’re going to be assessed and all that. But it’s just that kind of…

R: Safety net?

D: Yeah. If you can push yourself now not even just in the community but just by what a lot of you are already doing- [for instance] forming little collectives or making your own work. You know that’s all very important because that’s outside the curriculum as well. I would just say make as many contacts as you can- cause it’s about net working as well. I mean I know for me I’m not getting major work but I don’t audition. It’s about people I’ve developed a relationship with. Jobs I’ve got before weren’t from auditions- where I work with people I’ve done workshops with or done this free project with or whatever and then yeah, get a job, get out, network. And every moment counts- you’ve been hearing me say that a lot. It’s significant. Every moment counts. It’s hard work.

R: Yeah.

D: It’s a big decision- choosing the arts, choosing an arts career.

R: I just don’t see another way.

D: No, no that’s it. Absolutely. I mean statistically if you think about 90 students. We had 90 students at Laban- five percent of those are still… are still in dance.

R: Oh really?

D: Only a few of those students…it’s a tough one. People go through dance training…because it’s that thing…people go in it with expectations. A lot of people have expectations that they’re going to get work right away. You’ll have to go through years of free projects maybe you’ll get the odd paid one. You just need to keep doing it, keep doing it. And then suddenly you find…oh I’ve got this job and this job and I’m doing this.

R: How do you find inspiration again when you feel discouraged?

D: Yeah…well, I go to class, I see performances and I start searching for self-development opportunities. I do free projects. I just keep working on myself. One minute you’re in a full time dance project and the next you’re unemployed. And you’re back working in your restaurant or in your bar. But yeah, I don’t know it’s not a question of not doing it. Like you said. You just do it. I think what I do actually. The more I’m out of training. The less I compare myself to people.  The more I can just be where I’m at. If three of us are going out for a job and I don’t get it. I don’t cry or think oh no I’m rubbish! I just think that he or she was the right person for that job and that doesn’t mean I’m not so just keep working keep applying. Keep pushing through. Just keep in it.

R: Yeah, self-love is a thing you need to constantly remind yourself of. I struggle with that.

D: yeah, this might sound condescending and wrong but I found the older I get the easier I get at it.

R: yeah, that’s good [laughter].

D: Not even the older but the more experience I have as well. The more jobs I gain the more knock backs the easier it is. You know like to pick myself back up. Yeah, trying not to dwell. No dwelling. No wasting time. It’s necessary. Its needed you know. But I find I can pull myself out of it easier. And it’s good to have supportive peers around. And again that starts now in training. What you do with each other, loving each other, massaging each other. Doing bodywork with each other. Its very self-driven dance but it doesn’t have to be.

R: I’ve found especially with the energy that we have in this program its very much like a family. I know coming here we’re all equally passionate about the same thing and that knowledge in itself is very empowering. It’s this beautiful surreal relationship you instantly have with them. And we communicate with our bodies all the time. It’s a beautiful thing.

D: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

R: How do you balance the consuming nature of dance, family, friends and other life pursuits?

D: That’s changed actually, now. I say the balance is more now with family. Having Obie changed things for sure.

R: Awe, yeah.

D: He’s been a very grounding factor in my life. Part of it was the fact my husband has always been very supportive. I would be shooting all over the place. I would go to workshops in different countries. If a job came up in somewhere I wanted to do then I would go. I was very self-driven in that way and he was supportive of that. And I enjoyed it. But now that it’s different for me. I don’t have that choice anymore I cant just shoot off. One could be very frustrated by it but what it’s done for me is balance me out a bit more. Yes I am passionate about dance. But it’s not the only thing in the world. And for me, for me that’s healthy. When it’s all consuming that’s when I get wrapped up in competition. Everything has too much emphasis on it. I’m never satisfied. That is it. I never felt satisfied. And I didn’t really congratulate myself on the achievements I made. It was never enough. Where as now I’ve got that grounded force of Obie and Paul. And realizing that not getting something isn’t important. Well, it is important. But I don’t have to dwell on it. That’s it. So, I’m better at that.  I’ve got good balance at the moment. I get to be a mom. I get to work part time. I get to rehearse in the evenings. And you know Paul’s super supportive. I just applied at a workshop at Banff near the Banff Centre.

R: Oh, yeah?

D: So, I’m really hoping I get it.

R: It’s really beautiful there.

D: Yeah, I’ve seen pictures. Yeah.

R: How old were you when you had Obie?

D: 37.

R: 37.

D: yeah, it’s funny. He came very quickly. Two hours fifteen minutes.

R: That’s incredible! I have huge respect for mothers. Not that I didn’t before. I was present for both my nephew’s births and that certainly deepened my admiration. It definitely made me want to wait. I think that’s wise especially with the consuming nature of dance.

D: You know I could if I wanted go for it again. But you know I don’t want him to be in daycare everyday. And that’s not a judgment on moms and dad’s who do that. It’s just after your pregnant it takes time to heal and everything. You’re out of it for a little while. But now I feel like my body is back. It feels the same as it was. Not as practiced. I may need a bit more training. You can still get what you can out of dance. But I’m happy to do it part time.

R: That’s lovely. Especially when they’re in school and that sort of thing. You may have more time. But the moments when they’re wee are so precious.

D: Yeah.

R: So, you were talking about the project you are doing in? What did you say?

D: April.

R: What is the concept? Or is it a secret?

D: It’s not a secret. I sort of go in to it with a theme but it’s not necessarily the thing. So, we’re 7 women well we’re 8 women. So, our discussions have been…it’s not necessarily about this by the way…Our discussions have been a lot about what its like to be a women. What qualities we feel that we possess. What moments we feel we are being oppressed. Who by? It’s not a gender or a sexist thing either.

R: No, yeah.

D: A lot of our discussion has been about experiences of women against women. Women not being supportive of each other. This notion actually came from having Obie. And suddenly I feel very close, and drawn to women. In my twenties I don’t know why because I mean I’m very close with my mom, I just had more male friends.

R: Me too.

D: Yeah, you know. I was drawn to that male energy. I felt like a lot of women are a little bit territorial and a little bit competitive at times. I just didn’t really want to be involved in that. But then as I got older I realized it’s about choosing the women that you’re with.

R: Yeah, absolutely because there are always such gems out there.

D: Yeah, exactly. And also just realizing maybe that it was something about me. Maybe, I was being the one who was being territorial. Maybe I was the one being competitive. So, yeah that came from that and power relations came up between women and different contexts.

R: Intriguing.

D: From there we developed different structures with different cards and games and that idea of power. You know group vs. individual, about allies. How do we gain allies? Also looking at the qualities that we hold as a group? And we just happen to be women. A lot of different things come out- like child play will come out. We play with power we have as children and how it’s different when we’re adults. So it’s a bit all over the place at the moment. I think it’s about what my works always about. Relationship.

R: yeah [laughter]. Mine seems to be the same. And I think oh well, there’s another one.

D: But you know it’s always different. You work with different people on different exercises. Re-marks on source material was really very physical in a full on sense and in this piece I want to look at how we can have strong physicality but also with softness. So, it doesn’t always have to be movement after movement through space. The very minimal work can also be very physical.

R: Yeah, I’ve been trying to be more compassionate with myself. With your work and with Shauna’s last semester it kind of doesn’t always have to be [makes tense expression]. It still takes a lot of effort to be…

D: Yeah, I think it takes more effort to keep calm in it.

R: I feel I’m more of slow-twitch dancer but I shouldn’t tell myself that.

D: But yeah, there’s always a thing we go towards more naturally. The more I teach, the more I’ll introduce my warm ups. They’re actually very minimal and slow. I feel if we take the time to slow down. We actually progress quicker in the end. I don’t say that or we don’t think that as dance students in the beginning because we have this idea that nothings working if we don’t move. So to present that idea that we don’t shut off and think oh yeah time for massage and shut off. But it’s the sensation of it we’re trying to grab hold of and that takes loads of time. And it’s harder because we have to stay focused and not fall asleep because we’re tired already and find that balance. I didn’t do it this time. Because it was my first time [teaching at sfu] I wanted to show that release is a physical technique.

So, yeah to go back to the point it’s really hard to slow down. To accept that it’s beneficial.

R: Do you ever implement meditating in your practice or even just your daily life?

D: Yeah, I haven’t for a while.

R: Yeah, I think I need to.

D: I have to say I forget about it. But I had a good friend and I was a dancer in her PHD project. She’s Canadian actually and her PHD was about how meditation practice actually aids in creativity. We did it over two years. Her husband is a yoga instructor and Zen Buddhist. So for a year we meditated twice a week together and we had to do it on our own as well. We would start with sitting meditation then go into walking meditation and then we’d go into an improvisation. But I feel even though I don’t [lately] because I had such strong practice before…I think I naturally go into the fundamentals. You know what I mean?

R: Yeah.

D: So, if I’m feeling I’m really rushing around I’ll slow down and say to myself breathe, be present, notice. So, I quite often check in with myself. But I haven’t actually meditated for a long time. But I’d like to go back to that for that transformed my practice for a long time.

R: I think it would be very helpful for me

D: And it’s been with Obie now…sorry I’m going back to him. Like you said before they grow so quick and every moments precious. So it’s just beautiful to watch it- and know that they’re the most in the present than anyone. And try to tap into it.

R: That’s lovely. It’s nice your husband is so supportive too. I was also wondering what one of your favorite projects was you have done? I know that’s a hard question.

D: No yeah, I’ve got one. It was working with Trisha Brown. She’s a post-modern dance artist. I did an exhibition in London it was for three of her older works that she did for the gallery. Walking on the walls, planes and floors of the forest. 

Really conceptual based work we did that for three months at the Barbican and one of her old dancers Shelly Centler came over and rehearsed with us. Trisha Brown unfortunately has dementia. She can’t really remember all that much. So, she has somebody who comes in and says you made this and this was your concept. And she would say oh yeah I remember! It was amazing. I don’t know if you’ve seen any but check it out. Walking on the walls- we were hanging horizontally on the walls. So you had the audience watching and you had to walk along it like you were walking on the road. You had to find the weight in your arms and your neck so it looks natural and re-learn to walk on that plane.

R: That’s interesting.

D: Yeah, we did it for about 15 minutes. Every time it was hard to do.

R: That’s cool. What was the concept she used?
D: It was about shifting audience perception. And it really did because after a while you lose perceptive and your own orientation when you’re watching it.
R: Oh, cool!
D: Yeah, it was a very dizzying and embodied experience.
R: And you said you liked writing and acting and…?
D: Yeah I do, I do. Well, I like acting but I don’t do it. I find it hard to just talk but I’d like to do more of it as a practice. And writing yeah, I’ve done a bit of creative writing but I don’t do it that often. I used to on and off write free flow. You know when you just write streams of consciousness…
R: Oh, yeah.
D: So, I was doing that for a little while everyday. And I love poetry and reading poetry. But yeah, again this isn’t something I’ve really delved into lately it’s something I need to return to.
R: Yeah, that’s awesome. What is one of your favourite projects that you’ve made?
D: It would be remarks on source material.

Yeah. I loved the process. Everyone in it was so dedicated and so supportive.  And remember I was in an academic institution so I had talk a lot of theory as well. So, the artists I was working with had to engage with that as well. So, that was awesome. They were supported me and watched me struggle through all those ideas. No one had too much expectation, which was nice.
R: Oh, that’s awesome.
D: And the piece itself I loved.
R: That’s so wonderful!
D: Yeah, yeah.
R: Well, I think that’s everything and there’s no other disciplines you dabble in?

D: Well, I’m definitely interested in galleries. I was going to say visual art but it’s not that I dabble in visual art I mean I have a little bit installation work. Yeah I’d like to continue exploring that. For me it’s about what does it mean to put it into a gallery? And what is the viewer’s experience? Close or far away and that makes me think about what I’m making as well. So yeah, I’d like to do more with that.
R: Cool, awesome. Well thank you so much I really appreciate it!
D: No, yeah thank you! That was great.

Citations

“Welcome.” The Dance Centre. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. <http://www.thedancecentre.ca/&gt;.

“Working Class.” The Training Society of Vancouver. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. <http://www.trainingsocietyofvancouver.ca/&gt;.

“Laban Movement Example.” YouTube. YouTube. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avpK1kTZcs0&gt;.

“Bartenieff Fundamentals.” Bartenieff Fundamentals. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. <http://connectedmovement.com/Bartenieff Fundamentals.html>.

“Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker | Rosas.” Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker | Rosas. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. <http://www.rosas.be/en/anne-teresa-de-keersmaeker&gt;.

“Henry Daniel | School for the Contemporary Arts | SFU.” YouTube. YouTube. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekZplncUL8w&gt;.

“The Banff Centre – Arts, Education, and Conferences in Banff, Alberta, Canada.” The Banff Centre – Arts, Education, and Conferences in Banff, Alberta, Canada. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. <http://www.banffcentre.ca/&gt;.

“Daisy Thompson |.” TSV. The Training Society of Vancouver. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. <http://www.trainingsocietyofvancouver.ca/2014/08/25/daisy-thompson/&gt;.

“Emerging Interview – Daisy Thompson.” YouTube. YouTube. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eb2JWrMx6yE&gt;.

“SCA News.” SFU SCA. SFU. Web. 6 Mar. 2015. <http://www.sfu.ca/sca/about/news-entry/dance-grad-daisy-thompson-returns-as-guest-choreographer&gt;.

“Experimental Intermedia Foundation 1971, Editing Trisha Brown “Walking on the Wall”” YouTube. YouTube. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WG9qT9GlwGk&gt;.

“Trisha Brown’s Walking on the Wall at the Barbican.” YouTube. YouTube. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWkkAU1RSLU&gt;.

“Re-marks on Source Material.” Vimeo. 1 Feb. 2014. Web. 12 Feb. 2015. <https://vimeo.com/76447437&gt;.

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