because the personal is cultural
On April 10, Wants&Needs Danse will be presenting the 14th edition of their popular Short&Sweet series in conjunction with the Art Curator's Association of Quebec's "Envisioning the Practice" conference, which looks at Performing Arts Curation. For the occasion, here is an interview that had been conducted with organizers Sasha Kleinplatz and Andrew Tay for the 7th edition of Short&Sweet.
SYLVAIN VERSTRICHT: I've been thinking about [Short&Sweet] in terms of artistic direction and, given the high number of choreographers that get to show work, that maybe the best artistic direction is to have none at all. How do you choose who is going to present work?
SASHA KLEINPLATZ: I think what we do is try to get people who represent different parts of the contemporary dance community in Montreal. Basically, we will try to make sure we have artists who are young, mid-career, and established. We also try to have a balance between different types of work, i.e. artists who create more cerebral or conceptual work versus artists who create work that is very movement based. We also try to include some artists who aren't necessarily working in the contemporary dance milieu; for example, we have asked clowns, performance artists, hip hop choreographers and puppeteers in the past.
I think as curators we believe our challenge with Short&Sweet is community building and creating dialogue. At the same time we try to ask people who we think would make good use of this particular kind of performance situation.
SYLVAIN: It also seems that, even though the Montreal dance community is rather small and everyone knows each other, there is still a bit of a divide between francophone and anglophone artists. Short&Sweet is one of the few times when I feel like that line gets somewhat erased. Am I wrong in assuming this and is this something that's important to you?
ANDREW TAY: It is definitely something that we think about, and we feel like this is part of what makes Short&Sweet fun and interesting. Homogeny can definitely be boring and every good party needs a good mix of people. I think that we are trying to breed a curiosity among artists to see all the different types of dance ideas that are out there no matter where they are coming from. This curiosity creates an atmosphere that transcends boundaries such as language... We also think this situation is really unique to Montreal and important! I was at a symposium recently that was talking about the so-called anglo - franco culture divide and some people were arguing that a bilingual audience doesn't exist. I totally disagree with this and I think events like Short&Sweet prove it is an exciting possibility. I think we are lucky since dance is not necessarily a language-based art form and because of this we have more opportunity to cultivate this kind of audience.
SYLVAIN: For this edition of Short&Sweet, you asked choreographers to collaborate with artists from other disciplines. Dance always strikes me as being particularly collaborative, so I was wondering how this constraint concretely affected your piece this time around…
SASHA: I know for me it felt like an opportunity to take a chance with collaborators I have never worked with before. Because the piece is short I felt comfortable treating the collaboration as a blind date between myself and the two collaborators and interpreters (musician John Milchem, performance artist Adriana Disman, and interpreters Nathan Yaffe and Susan Paulson). We have all agreed that the process of the collaboration is as interesting as the outcome/performance. We were all just excited to see what working together yields. For me this goes back to the original spirit of experimentation and risk-taking that I was looking for when Andrew and I conceived of Short&Sweet.
Short & Sweet #14
April 10 at 10pm
La Sala Rossa
has an MA in Film Studies and works in contemporary dance. His fiction has appeared in Headlight Anthology, Cactus Heart, and Birkensnake.
s.verstricht [at] gmail [dot] com