Barbara: What a weekend.
I mean, really. Was there something in the air? Some kind of kinetic gale wind that blew through these parts and wreaked havoc and beauty in almost equal measure?
So much happened this weekend that instead of feeling prepared to share something profound and clear with you, there is a riot of stuff swirling around in my mind. It makes clarity, succinctness and sleep pretty damn hard! There is—literally—too much to tell.
I’m not a journalist (as you well know!) and this won’t be your one-stop shop for all things factual. But I can prism this world for you from my own perspective and sum up what, for me, was an amazing, magical, seismic, strange and transformative few days.
On the side of “sublime”, I spent from Friday morning until Sunday night in the quaint city of Guelph to attend and do the PR for my sister’s dance organization—the Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival. As I said the other day, if you know anything about contemporary dance, you know that it is never the same, never the “expected”, it doesn’t follow any rules (other than the fundamental one: you must tell the truth), and it lives to challenge you. This weekend was no exception as dancers from all over Canada brought works so diverse that in one moment you would be watching two hilarious/tragic dancers clipped to a tree on bungees interpreting their final moments as they drown at sea, to four muscular men tearing up the stage, 500 newspapers, and each other, to five suited male dancers in reverential prayer-dance reinterpreting the “davening” ritual of the Jewish faith, to an exquisite and intensely personal and powerful duet between two people grappling with love.
|Dress rehearsal shot of Kaeja d'Dance at the GCDF 2012; Armour/Amour.|
Not only did we get to witness artistry at its finest and most electrifying, I got to meet all these amazing artists afterward and hear firsthand what dance means to them, what it means to perform in Guelph, and what it means to create despite so many obstacles. My daughter, Michele, was at my side the whole time, filming each artist as they shared their thoughts. We intend to amalgamate this footage over the next few months into a short documentary about the festival. I already told you how wonderful it was to be part of my sister’s extraordinary work, but to be able to also work with my daughter on something so special was an unbelievable experience!
It really made me realize how “storytelling” comes in many shapes. For me, this recent experience of being behind-the-scenes in a creative project has offered—surprise, surprise!—just as many opportunities to tell stories as sitting at my computer and writing them down from my own perspective. The stories we collected for the film have the bonus of incorporating other people’s voices and experiences, other ideas and visions, other viewpoints. In the end, we are all “writing the story” together.
But not very far away and at the same time, there was also another, wholly different, horribly dark story unfolding. While all this sublime, intense, cathartic creativity was going on, I would hear these spurts of information from the “real world”. Back home in Toronto, rain was stopping traffic and filling sewers past capacity and then bursting into the main subway line. Then the next day, a shooter let loose in the Eaton Centre—our most central and crowded shopping mall—killing his target while injuring several innocent bystanders. It didn’t seem possible that suddenly this world that was—in that same second—filled with exquisite beauty, honesty, and insight, with the language of artistry and wonder and cooperation was the same world filled with random, violent, and incomprehensible destruction.
But it is always thus, isn’t it?
It has filled my mind to capacity. I am a bruise today: blued and sensitive, aching, wary, but also smitten and loving, intensely aware of my humanity and the other bruised and aching people near and far.
Deb: Yes, the violence was so shocking. I am glad that it is still a shocking thing to hear these stories, but that doesn’t remove the shock. It has also been a weekend of peace in a funny way as we have taken a well-needed break from reality and have not strayed more than a mile from home. Your experience sounds like pure heaven and next year I am soooooo going.