The Collection and Lady Janitor are the brainchildren of Jasmine Graham and Eroca Nichols respectively and they’ve teamed up for a shared program at the Toronto Fringe Festival in Feathers vs. Fauna. Creative, funny and hardworking, these emerging voices in the Toronto dance scene answered a few questions for me.
LR: Ok, Feathers vs. Fauna: tell me a little bit about each piece, what is the show about?
JG: Aviary is a duet performed by Emily Poirier and Jasmyn Fyffe. We created the work collaboratively, working with improvised sound scores that the dancers created in order to generate the movement material. From there, I selected movements and arranged them into phrases, removing anything that seemed unnecessary or out of place in an effort to figure out the logic of the piece and build a cohesive language and structure that would make sense to an audience. I believe that dance is a visual art and my dances are a reflection of that; Aviary doesn’t have a linear narrative and it isn’t really about conveying a specific idea to the audience. It’s about creating a beautiful, fantastical world filled with tragedy, contradictions and humour. I like to leave most of the interpretation up to the audience, they are an integral part of the piece.
EN: My family is a band of outsiders—or at least this is the collective persona that we have cultivated since I can remember. We moved a lot— we’ve lived in trailers, apartments, houses, basements, motels, in Alberta, Arizona, British Columbia, California, Nevada, Ontario, and Saskatchewan; my sister and I attended over 9 schools by the time we entered high school. Our nomadism extends beyond the road; my mom had a tarot reading that led us to legally change all our names—first and last– when I was three. We’ve remained somewhat liquid in the identity department. We’ve had little money. We’ve driven across deserts, mountains and prairies. We’ve broken down. We’ve never quite fit in. We’ve stuck together even when we haven’t. The Deer In Head Lights Sideshow/Slideshow is a solo exploring my family’s collectively generated narrative.
LR: Eroca, with Lady Janitor your work is known for its zany humour — where do you think that comes from?
EN: I’m kind of a funny lady. Lately I’ve been on a mission to get contemporary dance to take itself a bit less seriously. Deer in Headlights is a bit darker. It is based on stories from my own personal narrative. It’s not with out humor but it’s definitely the most emo work I’ve ever made.
LR: Jasmine — I’ve known you primarily as a dancer. What fuels you as a choreographer?
JG: As a choreographer I’m fuelled by the dancers I work with and images that I develop before or during the piece. Sometimes I begin with a clear image of a costume or set or spatial relationship that I want to develop or create, and other times I have no idea what I want or what will happen, and I just work and watch the dancers work until I see something that I think could be further explored. I love to work collaboratively with the dancers; it is so exciting to watch a dancer perform material that they created and/or developed because it is so believable for the audience.
LR: How many dancers are involved in this show and how have you each selected them?
EN: The Deer In Head Lights Sideshow/Slideshow is a solo and I’m dancing it. This is a first for me–normally my work involves huge herds of humans. I’m making myself nervous. Come! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll line dance!
JG: I chose to work with Jasmyn and Emily because they are both amazingly talented physical, open, honest and trusting dancers. They are also good friends and there is nothing better then creating with friends. We have created a really safe, open and honest atmosphere and I think it’s a lot easier to create and take chances and make mistakes when your work environment is like that.
LR: What do you each hope audiences will get from seeing Feathers vs. Fauna?
EN: A warped family portrait that highlights the fact that all our families are strange and we love them.
JG: I can only hope that the audiences who come to see Feathers vs Fauna will leave transformed in some way, that is the ultimate honour for creators in my opinion.
The Collection and Lady Janitor present
Feathers vs. Fauna
Director: Jasmine Graham, Eroca Nicols
Choreographer: Jasmine Graham, Eroca Nicols
Genre: Dance, Physical Theatre
Warning: Audience Participation
Venue 10 Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace
Fri, July 8 3:30 PM
Sun, July 10 9:15 PM
Mon, July 11 7:00 PM
Tue, July 12 2:45 PM
Wed, July 13 4:15 PM
Fri, July 15 12:30 PM
Sat, July 16 8:45 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 http://fringetoronto.com/fringefest/passes.html are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows.