January 5th, 2016

In October 2015, QDF sat down with Amy Blackmore, Patrick Lloyd Brennan and holly Greco to discuss their upcoming production of Richard O’Brien’s The Rocky Horror Show. And now they are back with a dance festival called Bouge D’ici!

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Amy Blackmore, Artistic and Executive Director of MainLine Theatre and Bouge D’ici and Bouge D’ici Mentor

Patrick Lloyd Brennan, Publicist for Bouge d’ici

holly Greco, Associate Producer and Bouge d’ici Mentor

QDF: Why should a dancer be a part of the festival?

Amy Blackmore: Being a part of Bouge d’ici can be a really enriching experience as a dancer. It’s a great way to meet fellow artists, to dabble in a new style of dance (such as Tap) and to springboard into the Montreal’s vibrant dance community. We keep hearing over and over again from participants that they love Bouge d’ici because of its relaxed, but professional atmosphere. Fostering that kind of environment has certainly been one of my goals since the festival’s first edition. 

Patrick Lloyd Brennan: Choreographers at this point in their career have few opportunities to reimagine or rework a past piece in a safe creative environment – Bouge d’ici provides that opportunity.

holly Greco: There’s so many great opportunities at the festival that there is tons for a dancer to benefit from, depending on what they are looking for. There is of course the long form opening fest show and Common space they can apply for if they are looking to remount their work with the support of a number of talented artists, there are workshops for them to fine tune their craft or express themselves in a new medium such as tap dancing. They can also attend or apply to Cinédanse and be inspired by dance on film, seeing movement represented in a new way. Or they can be a volunteer who meets dance lovers and other artists and gets to help support the Bouge movement (pun intended). How many more reasons do you need? 

QDF: Since you all work on the The Rocky Horror Show, what are the main differences between a musical and a contemporary dance showcase?

Amy Blackmore: Oh my! There are so many differences between a musical and contemporary dance showcase. I’m seriously at a loss of how to answer this one though. They are also a lot alike! It takes a big team of truly passionate and wonderful artists to create either. That said, often musicals tell a story using modern but traditional methods such as song and dance in a formal way. Contemporary dance artists tend to blur the lines of traditional forms of dance and storytelling. I see musicals as regularly being very straightforward in presentation, with contemporary dance reality can often be abstracted.

Patrick Lloyd Brennan: Given that musicals typically come with a narrative, a history, lyrics, and characters, especially one like The Rocky Horror Show, there are certain limitations on the creative choices you can take in the process and presentation. Conversely, with contemporary dance you are seeing work that is original and raw. With contemporary dance the audience has an opportunity to create their own narrative based on their visceral reactions to the movement they are watching.

holly Greco: The main difference between this process and Rocky is that we all have different roles in this process. Not only that, but these choreographies are not our creations. We have opened the door to other movement makers and are supporting them the way we did each other in the rocky choreographic process. But the difference between the two showcases is that we had to work together to create a cohesive narrative in Rocky. Each choreography needed to compliment one another to work towards a common goal : the story’s scripted arc. When we work together giving notes to individual choreographers for Common Space, we zoom in on one person and their specific set of goals. Now we are collaborating to give our artists the perspective we have as the public and share potentially suggestions for adjustments. If I see something, such as it is a duet and they don’t seem connected yet the choreography leads me to believe they are supposed to be, and Patrick comments on it, we might pile on to each other and riff a little on how ideas that the choreographer can take, I.e. Eye contact, the way they are making contact with each other etc. Than Amy might find her self wanting to add to the conversation,( I.e. Perhaps the choreography should help prompt them to connect more) but doesn’t want to overwhelm the artist, so keeps to her self. Our collaboration in this process is a constant dance of sharing our thoughts, nurturing these artists, but letting them find their own path. ***this is a REALLY long winded answer and I have no idea if I answered the question. SORRY!

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QDF: How would you explain contemporary dance to someone who has never had a chance to experience a show of that type?

Amy Blackmore: Contemporary dance can mean a lot of things. It’s known as style of dance, but more importantly for Bouge d’ici artists its really a method of artistic practice. We really delve deep into the craft of choreography. We try new things, ask many questions of each other and we are constantly evolving our choreographic process. Sure, that might sound a little heady… the funny thing is that when you see the work onstage, its not always obvious what has gone into it.

Patrick Lloyd Brennan: Come EXPERIENCE it.

holly Greco: What’s great about Common Space and now our new long form opener is that the pieces are usually so different from one another that you get a “contemporary buffet” to chose from. If audiences come in with an open mind, they may be surprised how much they truly enjoy. I would tell them to expect some confusion. Don’t try to figure it all out. There’s a common misconception about contemporary dance, that it ALL has a deep, abstract meaning that is hiding in the movement. Of course this is true for some choreographers, but sometimes it’s just about experiencing it as an audience. Sometimes it’s just about watching the person on stage experience something. Sometimes it’s just a stream line of fluid, beautiful movements that bleed from one sequence to another with no particular agenda behind it. And sometimes the meaning doesn’t hide at all. Sometimes it’s right there in your face, literal as hell. So just come in and dine because there’s plenty to chose from. 

QDF: What has been your favorite piece to work on in your career?

Amy Blackmore: My favorite piece to work on in my career so far was a short dance film entitled So There’s This Girl. I collaborated with Bis Films to create it. We filmed on location at my friend Nantha’s old resto Cash ‘N Curry. It was a fun experiment in action/reaction. The entire choreography was a chain from start to finish! It still gets screened at film festivals and you can watch it online here:

Patrick Lloyd Brennan: My favorite piece I’ve worked on in my career is The New Bourjoiesie. I used a holistic approach to creation by creating a distinct environment with an internal logic for the performers, integrating set and costume choices into the character development and allowing the characters to inform the overall look and experience of the piece. The piece, exploring the bizarre normalities of luxurious life welcomed voyeurs to experience the ins and outs of the absurdly habitual socialite culture with disjointed vignettes displaying faux dignity, six personas exposed their decadent lifestyle – unsatisfied, over-consumed, pervasive, and depleted; leaving nothing but a lavish disaster behind.

holly Greco: This is an extremely difficult question. The one that comes to mind is an absolutely absurd hour long show I did, with Patrick at the helm. It was called the New Bourjoiesie and 6 of us built these crazy, horrible characters that interacted in different vignettes. It took place in Patrick’s old loft in the old port and we completely transformed the space and had the audience sit in the round. I think it was my favourite because it was the first time I felt like I was using theatre in dance, which I prefer as a creator. That and it was so completely ridiculous there was an amount of freedom and fun that can not be matched. It is also something I am still really proud of.  We keep threatening to do it again.

QDF: For an emerging choreographer, what is one tip you wished you had when you first started?

Amy Blackmore: I don’t wish like that. Ha ha! That said, if I can offer out any advice to emerging choreographers, its to BE YOURSELF. 

Patrick Lloyd Brennan: The one tip I would give choreographers who are just starting out is to remember that you don’t have to present work in order to be a choreographer. As an artist, it is just as important to explore, observe, and live – take your time, be patient.

holly Greco: I would tell emerging choreographers that there is a place for you and your work. Just because it isn’t what you see a lot of in the city or maybe not at all, doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to have your vision shared with a public. It can be intimidating for a young artist to be thrown into this pool, especially when you aren’t doing what is “hot right now”. But there’s room for all of us, and Bouge is here to help. 

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The Bouge D’ici is going on from January 6-16, 2016

Playing at MainLine Theatre

Check out the Bouge D’ici website for the full program of events

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