The following piece was submitted by Nika Stein, a Russian-born performer/choreographer living in Montreal. Photo by Fannie Bertrand. Nika is creator and performer in the solo work Choreography which leads to satisfaction.  The piece is part of QDF’s series of artist-submitted works detailing experiences creating at the 26th edition of the St-Ambroise Montreal FRINGE Festival.

I was painfully shy as a kid, and while a lot of that shyness is gone now, in part due, I am sure, to my career in the performing arts, some things are still difficult.  I still find approaching strangers, and especially asking for favours from strangers, difficult. Presently I am hanging posters around town for my upcoming show Choreography which leads to satisfaction appearing at the Fringe festival. As I head out to hang some posters my mood is somewhat tense. With my bag of posters, I approach every potential place. I evaluate what else is hanging or not hanging there, I evaluate the body language of the staff, and I make a decision. Either I go for it, take a breath and ask if I can put up a poster, or I walk away.

I remember first seeing the poster for the show when it came out from the printers. It looked good and promising, and as I started to sweat and my heart-rate increased, the accompanied thought was: I better be good, I better deliver.

This sweating and heart-rate acceleration was a kick-start mechanism from my body to generate yet more energy for the 6 shows at the Fringe. Indeed, if I want to do one thing in this show, it is to generate as much energy as possible in my body through an emotional charge…Then I want to release it completely, to bring my body to neutral. I want to do this in my body over and over, as I travel through each different emotion on my way to satisfaction. Despite the title of the piece, there is no actual choreography in it, at least not in the conventional sense of complex spatial movements. Rather, I am focusing on movements and sounds of raw emotions. Movements of want and desire are especially shunned in our society. I want to give them full room in this show.

Even the wildest edgiest thing that is rehearsed can become so safe and predictable for the performer. Thus while I do need rehearsals in the studio, this hanging of posters is an excellent rehearsal for the movements of approach.

As a walk the streets of my beloved Montreal, scoping for places to hang posters, I do it in the spirit of mindfulness. I make mental notes about which new cafés I would like to check out in the future (owners beware of rudeness towards people that hang posters). Every time I hang a poster, or hand it to the staff for examination, I am forced to get in touch with what I want to convey to the audience, and to make a place for it in my heart. The more posters I hang around town, the less stressed-out I feel about hanging more posters. The closer I feel to satisfaction. The closer I feel to Choreography which leads to satisfaction.

Choreography which leads to satisfaction plays from June 10th-19th at Studio Jean-Valcourt du Conservatoire (4750 Henri-Julien). For showtimes and tickets, check out the FRINGE website!


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