Wednesday, August 10, 2022

"It’s not about connecting steps together, but directing bodies in space to create my own story."

Minuet Charron is a dancer and choreographer who expresses her art with an array of styles from ballet to hip hop. She recently attended a Choreography Intensive and has graciously sent us an update to share her experiences there. For more about Minuet, visit her website or follow her on Instagram.


"In July, I spent ten days in Dayton, Ohio, at Regional Dance America’s National Choreography Intensive (NCI) as an emerging choreographer. This annual intensive is catered to the creative development and practice of emerging and established choreographers, while it offers a stream  for dancers to train and learn movement from the choreographers. I enjoyed lectures covering the foundations of music history and workshops in choreography and how to create and play with  movement. 

A great portion of the program was Pablo, director of music, teaching us about music and how  that relates to dance. I learned random history tidbits, a few musical terms that kind of sound funny to me (polyphony for one), and communal speculations of what it really means to be an  artist who creates art. 

Every day, we had a specific assignment, commonly associated with the musical era we had  covered that morning. Some days there were restrictions of the movement (e.g. only standing, only gesture phrases), others had specific goals (use of cannons, choosing a theme, partner work), and some gave us specific music pieces/genres to use. Afterward, we’d have about an  hour and a half with a new group of dancers each day to create. At the end of each day, the dancers showcased all the choreographers’ pieces and then we sat down with the directors to  speak about how the process went. 

I think one of the greatest elements of the intensive was that we were just there to play. And I don’t mean that in a lazy, not doing any work kind of way, I mean it in a curious, freeing, creative type of way! There was no weight of perfection on creations. They weren’t expected to be finished nor cleaned from top to bottom. The purpose was to try things and to experiment.  And it truly was a laboratory for us choreographers. Even when there was a dance I’d  choreographed that I thought happened to be lackluster or wasn’t anything like my other work, I still felt satisfied that I did something new … either out of my element, out of my comfort zone, or something I never thought that I would do myself. I think that’s super cool.  

There were twelve emerging choreographers (including myself) and I have never felt so connected to a group of humans in such a short amount of time. Many of them I felt as if I’d  known my whole life. Perhaps it had something to do with being in a room of like-minded  individuals, all very different people when you look at our personalities, likes and dislikes, but  our passion and our creativity is what brought us together. Not a moment was boring with my fellow choreographers; when we had spare time, we created random phrases, improvised for  hours, gave each other little improv tasks, and one day we made our own t-shirts just for the fun of it.  

Penny, the director of choreographer, highly encouraged us to come into each dance rehearsal  with little to no material pre-made. That was hard for me. Coming in, not unprepared, but not  already set in exactly what was going to happen in the studio. She spoke about choreographing and the magic of creation happening in the studio with the dancers, not just assigning the steps and counts you wrote in your notebook to them. It was about trusting your creativity and leadership skills, trusting that you knew what you were doing and didn’t have to rely on over preparation. And then, allowing the dancers to influence the movement. One thing Penny said  that specifically stuck with me was, “You’ve spent your entire life training to dance the way you do. You can’t expect someone else, who has been training their entire lives to dance the way they do, to be able to move like you.” Which is to say, utilize the dancers and their bodies, talents, and styles to your advantage … give them your vision and leadership, while allowing their own  interpretation. As a choreographer, I learned that it’s not about connecting steps together in an eight count but directing bodies in space to create my own story. And to trust my ability as a choreographer along with trusting my dancers’ abilities. 

I learned a lot from my peers. Which, I believe, is a unique experience. I feel special to have had such amazing dancers alongside me at the NCI. One of the most educational parts was conversing about our choreographic processes. I’ve never been in a room full of choreographers before, and I’ve always been so curious about how other people create. It’s truly something that cannot be taught. Sure, creativity can be practiced, honed, guided even. But I don’t think you can teach someone to be creative. It was interesting talking to others who struggled with aspects of  choreography I felt comfortable with and vice versa. And it was amazing to see the growth and  changes that occurred in each of us in only a week and a half.  

Overall, my experience heightened my interest in choreography, and solidified my heart’s need to create art – specifically in dance. A big thank you to NSTT for supporting my choreographic studies this summer!"

To see a video of Minuet's incredible choreography, click here!


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Wednesday, August 3, 2022

"Breathe" - A Collaboration of Poetry and Percussion

Composer and tubist Hope Salmonson is a gifted artist whose music is inspired by community and her connection to others.  Also a Talent Trust scholarship recipient, Hope's works have been performed by many groups on several stages, including the Ensemble Allure, the andPlay Duo, and the Mount Allison Elliott Chorale.  She recently participated in the 2022 LAMP Composition Academy where composers were challenged to write for an ensemble and a randomly selected poem from Michelle Sylliboy's "Kiskajeyi - I AM READY".  Hope talks about her experience: 

"When I was informed that I received "Breathe" and percussion, it struck me funny—coincidental that an ensemble that doesn't use breath would be paired with this text. I decided to incorporate breath into the piece itself by making group breathing a core part of the tempo and metre. In sections of the work, the percussionists will not follow a set tempo, but they will 
guide the music as they inhale and exhale. This, to me, was the way to do justice to Sylliboy's words in this context.

Michelle Sylliboy's poem "Breathe" can be found in her full collection, "Kiskajeyi - I AM READY" at bookstores and online. I heartily encourage any listeners and players to engage with her work; while this poem was my primary inspiration, I developed my compositional ideas in conversation with the full text and Michelle herself; the collaborative spirit is key to my experience of this music.

Many thanks to the Nova Scotia Talent Trust and the Bragg Women Music Opportunities Fund for supporting my journey to creating this music."

For more about Hope and her music, please visit her website





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Want to support the next generation of Nova Scotian artists? Donate today!