Choreographer pumps new creation full of air


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TECHNOLOGY'S impact on human and animal life has long been a concern for Winnipeg choreographer Jolene Bailie.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 18/04/2012 (3875 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

TECHNOLOGY’S impact on human and animal life has long been a concern for Winnipeg choreographer Jolene Bailie.

Three years ago, her solo Everything’s Coming Up Roses looked at our enslavement to clocks and gadgets. In 2010, her piece Sensory Life, Infinite World imagined a utopian ecosystem — a nature-inspired alternative.

In late 2010 and early last year, Bailie’s multimedia work Hybrid Human, inspired by the art exhibition Wanda Koop: on the edge of experience, was performed among Koop’s paintings at the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Canada. Its characters seemed to be part-human, part-android.

HUGH CONACHER PHOTO Air, breath, wind and artificial air flow are among the inspirations for Inspiro.

Then, a year ago, Bailie performed a self-created solo while she was six months pregnant with her first child.

“It was sort of about copulating with technology,” recalls the 34-year-old, who kept dancing until two days before her son Simon was born last July, and returned to it three weeks after his birth.

Bailie’s all-new creation for five female dancers — not including herself this time — is called Inspiro. Presented by her company, Gearshifting Performance Works, it has a $10 preview performance Thursday at 8 p.m. and runs Friday through Sunday at the University of Winnipeg’s Asper Centre for Theatre and Film.

Air, breath, wind and artificial air flow are among the inspirations for the hour-long piece. Bailie has done some research into wind turbines. Though they’re touted as producers of green energy, they’re believed to be changing the flight paths of migratory birds and killing bats, among other ecological impacts.

“What happens when we modulate air currents?” Bailie says. “What is it doing to the natural environment?”

Inspiro’s simple black costumes include a subtle element that might suggest feathers or armour, she says.

Bailie says she strives to live in the moment. That probably played a part in her “totally random” meeting of her fairly recent romantic partner, ophthalmologist Gary Sewell, in a coffee shop. “He bought me a tea, and the rest is history,” she says. The two have settled down in Tuxedo with baby Simon and a “blended menagerie.”

Inspiro is Bailie’s third project with sound artist Susan Chafe. When they collaborate, Bailie first creates the choreography, to silence. Chafe attends rehearsals, videotapes them, and eventually creates a soundscape in response.

The dancers don’t hear Chafe’s contribution until three days before the show opens. It’s a very different process from choreographing to existing music.

“I can be swooned by music,” Bailie says. “It just seduces me. (Without it), I really have to go inside myself to create a work that is not dependent on specific music to work. And then the dancers have the responsibility of maintaining that inaudible music and rhythm with their bodies….

“What Susan does is add another layer. The sound becomes another dancer in the space. (The performers) have to be in the present moment.”

For eight years, Bailie was a fixture on the Canadian fringe festival circuit as a solo dancer. She gave that up in 2010, the same year she was accepted into a master’s program in fine arts at Hollins University in Virginia.

At the moment, she’s trying to recover from tendinitis in her thumbs, caused not by dancing, but by holding the baby. She’s wearing a brace and going for physiotherapy treatments.

“In a lifetime of dance, I never needed physio!” she says with a laugh.

Dance Preview


Gearshifting Performance Works

U of W’s Asper Centre for Theatre and Film

Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m.; Sunday at 4 p.m.

Tickets $20 (students/seniors $15) at or at the door

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