Pocket Alchemy’s Susan Kendal, Brittany Duggan and Krista Posyniak: 2011 Toronto Fringe Dance Interviews

Pocket Alchemy presents three dances inspired by bodily organs, the Mayfly and dialectical theory in the Toronto Fringe show, Scienceography. I talked to the three collaborators about theory and artistry coming together. (Interview participants Brittany Duggan, Susan Kendal and Krista Posyniak are all referred to by first name for easier reading. I shall remain good old LR.)

Krista Posyniak. Photo by Omer Yukseker

LR: The three of you discovered you were all inspired by science in different ways. How did each of you come to find inspiration from science?

Brittany: Dance often deals with the social sciences. What I have loved about making this show is, as a choreographer, I got to make a piece that gets into human behavior while inspired by the natural sciences. The balance has made my head less chaotic somehow.

Susan: When we decided to do a show together some of the works were already in progress. We felt strongly that we needed to find a common element for the show to be cohesive. It’s been delightful to find that the common thread is science, albeit disparate areas.

Krista: I think science infiltrates our lives without most of us realizing it. When the third piece was started, based on dialectic theory, Susan made the associated science link.

We gave them giant labels: Psychology, Physiology and Ent0mology but each piece delves into an exact idea. In more playful words, we got the microscope out and took a closer look.

LR: Susan — how have you knitted (pardon the pun, I couldn’t resist) together the factual and poetic information about organs? I ask with vested interest, after dancing in A|Chromatic, your 2008 work about colour blindness.

Susan: I do love to incorporate text into my dance work. For Organ Stories all the text is delivered by the dancer. I pulled factual, descriptive text from Gray’s Anatomy (the book not the show!), which is very dry and “medical.”

I commissioned poems from Lindsay Zier-Vogel about each of the four organs featured in the dance. While the poetry is abstract, it’s also evocative and personal. The poems are, I think, the heart (puns are too easy here!) of each section.

For movement inspiration I’ve used emotional associations with each organ, along with their actual functions – for instance a section of the “heart” choreography traces the path that the blood takes through the four chambers.

LR: Brittany — what inspired you to take on the Mayfly?

Brittany – 
I was commissioned in January 2011 by the Creative Republic to create a piece of dance in response to a group of objects in a box. The objects were small, items you might find in a dollar store, and my designer for that project, Berkeley Poole, noted that they were the types of things that don’t last long.

I played with the idea of ephemerality that both the objects and dance itself as a form share. During a costume consultation I noted looking like a bug, and suggested the Mayfly who I knew to live a very short life once an adult. For the Fringe, the work unfolds in three stages.

LR: Krista (and Brittany, since you are co-creators on the third piece)– How do you make dance about dialectical theory? is it embedded in the creative process? symbolized?

Brittany – Dialectical theory, in the therapeutic sense, was a starting point but the concept of dialect is central – the push and pull of two arguments in the mind of an individual.

Krista: We started with researching dialectic behaviour therapy. Out of that, we learned about the continuous re-shaping of the idea throughout history that was strongly formatted by ancient philosophers.

Using formal ideas that are supposed to be void of emotion, we started to form a skeleton of how one person might use dialectic through inner conscious.

With movement, we played with the notion that two ideas can exist at the same time, and how one would challenge the other. It has resulted in a lot of jarring movement that melts and spirals into gestural movement.

LR: What do you hope the audiences will experience from Scienceography?

Brittany: Each piece asks something a little different from the viewer. I hope the audiences are delighted by visual and thematic range.

Susan: I second that! I always hope the audience finds enjoyment in the dancing along with a dose of discomfort, that it evokes strong images or memories for them and that they leave feeling invigorated and curious and satisfied.

I hope they maybe even laugh aloud if something tickles their fancy, it’s nice to both hear and feel an audience’s attention.

Krista: I’m always hoping that audiences will ask questions of what they saw and also be relate to it. I hope the audience will give us their curiosity that will propel us further in our discovery.

Scienceography: dances of physiology, entomology and psychology

Choreographers: B. Duggan, S. Kendal & K. Posyniak
Cast: Brittany Duggan, Julie Grant, Susan Kendal, Krista Posyniak
Genre: Dance, Physical Theatre
Venue 12 Factory Theatre Mainspace

60 min.
Thu, July 7 6:30 PM
Sat, July 9 11:00 PM
Mon, July 11 1:00 PM
Wed, July 13 7:30 PM
Fri, July 15 9:15 PM
Sat, July 16 12:30 PM
Sun, July 17 3:30 PM

All individual Fringe tickets are $10 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online at www.fringetoronto.com, by phone at  416-966-1062, in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $10+$1 convenience fee)

Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows.