Double Bill by Kimberley Cooper
In 1994, Vicki Adams Willis, founding A.D. of DJD, created a piece called Rhythm Addiction that was one of the most intense dance experiences I ever had the pleasure of being a part of. It focused on jazz and it’s family, specifically different forms of music and dance related to the forming and evolution of jazz. There were different sections of the piece relating to tap, West African and Latin Jazz, also Bharatanatyam and Flamenco. Those two forms were the most unfamiliar to us as a company and we worked hard to study the pure forms with experts- Sudha Thakkar for Bharatanatyam, and Claudia Carolina for Flamenco. I think it was the hardest show, physically and mentally, that I ever danced. We remounted Rhythm Addiction in 1997 and the Flamenco sections felt better and better in my body. I went to Spain that summer to study Flamenco in Madrid, it was a profound experience. I created a jazz/flamenco solo on myself in 1999 to Miles Davis’ tune Portia for a festival in Calgary now known as ADF (Alberta Dance Festival). The festival was over three weekends and Portia was chosen to be performed in all three weekends of the festival. I also performed it in the DJD Dancer Choreographed performance Whitehorn (2000), which was my first time as Artistic Director of anything. Flamenco has a special place in my heart and in my body so naturally I was very drawn to the work of La Otra Orilla.
Double Bill is a new performance presented by DJD this spring. It is truly 2 shows in one. The first Magnetikae– is an Arctic Flamenco tale- taking place on an ice floe. The backdrop is white, the performers wear bits of fur, it is beautiful and cool. This is a new piece created and performed by La Otra Orilla- of Montréal. I saw them perform at the Fluid Festival in Calgary a few years ago and was struck by their rhythm, whimsy, and sense of relating to the history of flamenco while pushing it in a contemporary direction. I felt a kinship with them artistically and was thrilled to invite them to share an evening with us.
My response to their cool was to create something hot. Lovestruck is very loosely based in Calgary history. In 1915, on 17th Ave and Centre St.– just down the street from DJD, there was a place called Sherman’s Roller Rink that burned down in Feb of 1915. I started there, and in my research found some interesting details about Bill Sherman, who was the manager of the rink, and the fire itself. I have taken many liberties in this version of the story and the circumstances around the fire. There are elements of fairy tale, Greek myth, folklore and some truth throughout. There is a sense of vaudeville, some puppetry and of course much dancing. Lovestruck features the music of a 5 piece jazz ensemble led by Edmonton bassist Rubim de Toledo, including Bob Tildesley on trumpet, Carsten Rubeling on trombone and tuba, Jon McCaslin on drums and Karimah on vocals and narration. The music has some old blues tunes as well as some beautiful new pieces by Rubim. It has been awhile since we have had a vocalist on stage with us. Karimah is a brilliant and soulful singer and performer and we are able to look at story telling in a different way as she will be narrating the piece as well.
It is called Lovestruck because it begins with the premise that everyone wants to be in love. When we first fall in love, it actually makes us sick, we show symptoms similar to drug addiction and mental illness- we don’t want to eat, or sleep, when we are away from the object of our affection it can be torture, minutes feel like hours, days like weeks. Yet, we still want it. The piece opens with a group of people calling to Cupid- to please come shoot them with her arrow, to choose them, to make them fall in love. Cupid arrives, on roller skates of course, and responds to the loudest cry of the group, which is coming from a man named Bill Sherman…