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Fourth Year Dancers present Justine A. Chambers' Choreography at Vancouver Art Gallery

January 26, 2021

Join the 4th year dancers along with Justine A. Chambers, for a virtual performance presented by the Vancouver Art Gallery on Thursday, January 28th at 4pm EST (1pm PST).

Presentation FREE, with advanced registration.

Semi-precious: semaphore is a new iteration of Chambers’ ongoing work-in-progress titled Semi-precious. The project considers the possibilities of the multiple and the potential to build upon collective aspirations through reiterated actions. Developed in collaboration with fourth-year students of Ryerson University’s dance program, the performance will consider wider questions of how we can develop frameworks, or inhabit already existing structures and systems, that allow for our collective desires to unfold.

In October 2020, the graduating dance class began working virtually with Justine A. Chambers, an alumni of our dance program, who is now based in Vancouver. When Justine was invited by the Vancouver Art Gallery to create a public art performance, both she and Dance Program Director Vicki St. Denys were keen to present the 4th year dancers' project. 

"One of the few benefits of the current situation is the ability to invite guests into our community who live far away [...] It was the perfect opportunity to invite Justine to work with the dancers to share her expertise, perspectives and to create something." - Vicki St. Denys

The dancers have spent the past week shaping their work from the fall to create a zoom presentation being shared through the Vancouver Art Gallery's platform on Thursday Jan 28.  Following this, there will be two additionally phases to this project - one will be a live public art performance happening simultaneously at each of the dancers' homes, likely in February. It won't be filmed, it will just happen for the sake of sharing something beautiful. The third phase will result in the creation of a film, to be presented online at the end of this term, and shared as public art by projecting onto a large outdoor surface on campus when pandemic restrictions allow.

The process to get to this presentation has been entirely unique for the dancers. Despite the undeniable challenges of collaborating virtually, the dancers have found innovative was=ys to persevere and make the best of the situation. Forth year dancer Madeline Friel shares "When you are working with someone as amazing and complex as Justine it makes the process much more enjoyable and fun. Justine really gives everyone a sense of community with her generosity and kindness, even though we physically cannot be together. "

Dawson Lloyd, another dancer in the piece adds "one of the most vital aspects that is now missing is being able to feel each person’s energy. Although it has been hard, everyone in the cast has gained a different kind of awareness". Madeline, Dawson and their classmates have gained the unique skills of being able to pickup on each other's energies and impulses through a screen.

"This is not a regular performance anymore, or at least [not the kind of thing] people think of when 'performance' comes to their mind. We have opened up a new world of possibilities and creativity. We are all excited that as a whole collective we worked through the unknown and ended up creating something truly remarkable and memorable to share with the community on Thursday." - Dawson Lloyd, Dance 4

Information about future iterations of this project and others will be shared throughout the term. 

Justine A. Chambers

Justine A. Chambers wears a white track suit, and dances, looking intently up and to the left.

Justine A. Chambers is a dance artist living and working on the unceded Coast Salish territories of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Her movement-based practice considers how choreography can be an empathic practice rooted in collaborative creation, close observation and the body as a site of a cumulative embodied archive. Privileging what is felt over what is seen, she works with dances that are already there—the social choreographies present in the everyday. Her recent choreographic projects include: And then this also, One hundred more, tailfeather, for all of us, it could have been like this, ten thousand times and one hundred more, Family Dinner, Family Dinner: The Lexicon, Semi-precious: the faceting of a gemstone only appears complete and critical, Enters and Exits and COPY. Chambers’ work has been hosted by Sophiensaele (Berlin), Contemporary Art Gallery, Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery (Vancouver), Agora de la Danse (Montreal), Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery (Pennsylvania), Canada Dance Festival (Ottawa), Nanaimo Art Gallery, Artspeak, Burrard Arts Foundation, Mile Zero Dance Society, Dance in Vancouver, Festival of New Dance (St. John’s) and Art Museum at University of Toronto. Chambers is the recipient of the Lola Dance Prize (2018), and was selected for the Visiting Dance Artist Program at the National Arts Centre (2018-19). She is Max Tyler-Hite’s mother.