Register Wednesday | June 26 | 2019

A manual for incidence

the brainchild of choreographer Ame Henderson

Manual for Incidence is the brainchild of choreographer Ame Henderson. She created the work in collaboration with partners in crime, dramateur Jacob Zimmer, video/ graphic artist Daniel Arce and composer Eric Craven. I was a part of the cast and crew that performed the work in Toronto at X-Space in Kensington market and as at the Fonderie Darling in old Montreal at the beginning of June.

The piece could be described as a mix between dance theatre and performance art, although that doesn't completly sum it up. It was a site specific work that moved sites. A live music video for an underground band that doesn't exist. An experiemnt based on the interactions of strangers. A chance to hang out with and create with a stellar group of people.

Ame's concept was to explore displacement by creating solos on seven individuals based in three different cities and then bring everyone together for an intense three week creation period. The scenario was a catalyst for interactions between people and the alchemy of the various personalities was responsible for the content. There was a lot of waiting and letting actions and confiurations time to sink in. Ame and Jacob encouraged us all to observe and take in but to do less. This direction led to a pervasive aesthetic of authenticity and absurdity.

The team was composed of some pretty interesting people. I certainly enjoyed hanging out with this gang for a month. We had Matja, a brilliant 22 year old Croatian dancer and choreographer who came by way of Amsterdam but is moving on to Berlin to work with Sacha Waltz. Inari, a Finnish babe who is at once stoic and outrageous and comes equipped with rock solid choices in improvisation. Katie Ewald, self proclaimed alternative bombshell, an outspoken sweetheart, part rock star, part girl next door. Claudia, who probably couldn't be any cooler if she tried. Warm, effusive b-girl with wicked taste in art, music and food, and a lot of fun to be around. Stacy, is an anomaly. Modern dancer by day, firewoman by night. Rides a BMW motorcycle, has a goofy sense of humor and a heart of gold. Chad can't quite explain Chad. He became our team mascot. A hilarious, idiosyncratic physical actor from Toronto. Ridiculous, cute and introspective with a movement style all his own. Where did I fit, something along the lines of quirky, anti social pixie floating in and out of the group.

Anyway put these people together for too many hours a day and you are bound to get incidence. Jacob compiled a list of all our activities which had over a hundred and forty "events". The piece ended up being a distilled reflection of our time together. Manual was shaped considerably by Daniel's lo-fi real time video, Jacob's eye for detail & sense of the absurd, Craven's no holds barred soundtrack that lent us casual intensity and Ame's desire to transmit her aesthetic interest in the way real people inhabit the world.

Ame was working from the point of view that everything was equally interesting. Scratching our face is as a much movement as an arbitrary dance move. We performed in galley settings where as performers we were art objects in the space, containing the traces of all the experiences and places we've lived within us. The posture and intent when someone sits and looks can say as much as a story and as much as a movement phrase.

Jacob talked to me about a theorist who says that movement is always composed of time and space irregardless of the content. There was a lot of discussion about making the work durational. That we could have stretched the lengths out over hours instead of minutes. That with repetition something becomes more interesting the longer it goes on. Boring, boring then interesting at ten minutes we see differently.

The is nothing new about this way of making art, people have bee doing it at least since the sixties. But at the same time it still challenges a lot of normal habits that audiences have when watching a piece. This style forces you to become aware of the way you are looking at something and the basic fact that you are for a time in the act of observing. The motivation wasn't to put the audience on the spot but rather sift awareness of the situation enough to acknowledge that the performers and audience are sharing a space and a period of time together.

When the content is somewhat arbitrary what does that say to people. What does structure convey and is it enough. I can't say because I was on the inside but I was left feeling like there was more to say. That as a group we had just started to touch on something that could be further developed. I think the piece was successful in creating an experience, creating a cohesive style. To varying degrees being raw and real.

I know that I learned a lot about how I want to work. Appreciate the chance to generate ideas and react to others . The chance to discuss the work with many different types of people. To have my assumptions challenged. To hang out and make a piece with a talented crew of people my own age.

I feel like there were a lot of things I started to figure out that I can't quite articulate yet. Feel nostalgic for the x-space and the skate boarders next door and Kensington market with all its quirks. It is true just being in another city away from home, out of ones environment kicks you back into what is essential about who you are and at the same time allows you to change.

To read notes from the rehearsal process, visit
publicrecordings.org