photo: Yannick Grandmot
I’ve had the great pleasure to be working with Dana Gingras and her dance company Animals of Distinction on a new piece called Heart as Arena.
Here’s a little teaser of what we’re up to:
How far is far away? Wireless transmission is a paradox of intimacy and distance. In “Out of the Dark: Notes on the Nobodies of Radio Art” (1992), Gregory Whitehead writes that radio involves “staging an intricate game of position, a game that unfolds among far-flung bodies, for the most part unknown to each other”. For Heart as Arena, this game of position involves bodies and radios playing on stage, bodies in the audience, signals passing through the theatre from local or distant stations as well as mobile phones and wireless systems on all bands, the built environment of the city and its electrical currents. Using a multi-channel micro-watt radio system, radio becomes a frame for a series of relationships, near and far, where visible gestures meet invisible electro-magnetic interactions; a circuit built, played with, and played within.
We are immersed daily in a welter of signal, so tonight our interest centers on resonant bodies traversing the volatile nocturnal radio landscape in search of elusive union, tuning in to songs full of desire for love and comfort, the most mortal dreams of all. Bodies serve as antennas, and receivers become transmitters. What we find is that there is no such thing as dead air: the radio landscape is alive though connections are fragile and prone to interference, urgently vibrating with activity, temporary but resonantly human.
The work is conceived and choreographed by Dana Gingras, and features performers Sarah Doucet (Toronto), Shay Kuebler (Vancouver), Amber Funk Barton (Vancouver), Masaharu Imazu (Montreal/Japan) and Dana Gingras (Vancouver/Montreal). Creative collaborators include radio artist Anna Friz (Montreal/Chicago), sound and lighting artist Mikko Hynninen (Finland), dramaturge Ruth Little (England).
As you may guess, there are lots of radios in this show, beautiful transistors from the mid-’60s to the late-’70s. A veritable landscape of radios, as well as a landscape of radio sound. I’ll post more photos once we arrive in Vancouver. For me this is a wonderful opportunity to extend the work with multi-channel radio sculpture into a theatre setting, so radios act as environment, sculpture, and scenography; while the material conditions of radiophonic communication have been physicalized in the choreography.
For those not in Vancouver, fear not! Heart as Arena will be touring to many Canadian cities in the next year, including Ottawa (National Arts Centre), Montréal (L’Agora de la danse), Edmonton, Lennoxville, Quebec City, and hopefully points beyond.