Showing in Victoria

January 26, 2015 // by admin

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We Don’t Need Another Hero

a new theatrical experience created by Meagan O’Shea / Stand Up Dance

Inspired by the Occupy movement and the dilemma between action/discomfort and complacency/convenience, We Don’t Need Another Hero is part performance, part communal catharsis – an experiential spectacle. It includes Where Truth Lies, a dance-theatre solo with live translation and interaction; an immersive sonic experience that turns the audience into a mob; contemporary dance duets exploring the inherent tensions in all relationships.

We Don’t Need Another Hero is created and performed by Meagan O’Shea, along with composer/choir director Christine Duncan and The Element Choir, sound designer Debashis Sinha, dancers Christine Birch, Nicole Rose Bond, Brodie Stevenson, Linnea Swan and Brendan Wyatt and outside eye Andrea Spaziani.

SHOWING IN VICTORIA, BC

Friday January 30, 12:30 – 1:30 pm, free

Dance Victoria, as part of Dance Days

2750 Quadra Street at Hillside

http://dancevictoria.com/event/stand-dance-toronto/?instance_id=654

Must reserve at social@dancevictoria.com with “Stand Up” in subject line

We Don’t Need Another Hero – progress

December 13, 2014 // by admin

While I am fortunate to make a lot of solo work, when I gather other artists around to create group projects, I feel especially blessed. The energy of a group of people working together to realize a vision that one has put forth is powerful.

We are in the midst of working on We Don’t Need Another Hero, which will premiere in April, 2015 at The Theatre Centre in Toronto, as a DanceWorks CoWorks and Stand Up Dance presentation. The work has 5 sections and each relates to the subject matter and to the audience differently. There are dance duets exploring interpersonal relationships, there is an interactive solo with live translation, an immerisive sonic experience, more dance duets and a finale (I don’t want to spoil it for you!)

The solo is made, we begin the vocals today and are about half way through making the duets. The gifted and generous dancers are Christine Birch, Nicole Rose Bond, Neil Sochasky, Linnea Swan and Brendan Wyatt. Andrea Spaziani is the outside eye. Christine Duncan with The Element Choir and Debashis Sinha are creating the sound world for the project. Pip Bradford is the amazing woman who looks after us all.

Inspired by the Occupy Movement and the myriad challenges of our times, we are examining the desire to take action complicated by the temptation of convenience, the tendency to complacency and the desire to avoid discomfort. We are exploring the relationship to these through individual, partnership and collective as these are the relationships we all engage in.

WORK IN PROGRESS SHOWINGS

Sunday December 14, 4 pm at hub 14, 14 Markham St. Toronto

Tuesday December 16, 4:30 pm at Dovercourt House, 1st floor, 805 Dovercourt Rd. Toronto

We hope to see you there!

If you would like to help support the project, please e-mail info@standupdance.com to find out how to donate.

head monsterphoto of dancers Linnea Swan and Brendan Wyatt

Upcoming in Ottawa

September 29, 2014 // by admin

10523743_316963738470323_8654126228344085184_nPhoto: Keðja Mariehamn 2014
photo©uupitirronen

Thursday October 2nd   ||   7 – 9 pm  ||  WORLD CAFÉ Conversation and Gathering   ||  FREE; refreshments for purchase

Come and share your ideas about what is needed now. What are the ideas and issues that you are curious and passionate about? What are the issues that we need to engage with, and how? Who else is interested? These are complex times, the issues are personal, local and global. Our understanding of them creates a matrix that we can illuminate in order to choose empowering interaction. Come meet others and exchange your views and be inspired by theirs. Open to everyone.

Hosting conversations with a number of people where everyone can speak and engage in meaningful conversation.  Ideas are cross pollinated with each other through small groups that keep changing and are then harvested through larger group sharing. http://www.theworldcafe.com/method.html

O’Shea brings her experience as a dance-theatre artist, facilitator and educator to encompass embodied experience and collective activity.

PLEASE REGISTER, SIGN UP, BUY YOUR TICKETS: http://bit.ly/1uZHIi8

 

Saturday October 4th      ||      Doors 7 pm       ||      Salon Performance with Wine and Cheese      ||      $ 20

Celebrated performer Meagan O’Shea brings her unique brand of dance-theatre to The Studio Café for an evening of intimate performance.

“Off the wall, impossible to categorize, fun.” Montreal Gazette

Known for combining dance and storytelling to create one of a kind performances with heart, head and guts, Meagan engages audiences of all sizes in many spaces. Thrilled to be shaping a show in Ottawa’s The Studio Café, O’Shea leads audience from passive to active over the course of the evening.

“A Red Hot Talent” Ottawa XPress

A house concert or cabaret performance that includes a number of the acts from longer shows, that engage audience and lead them from passive witness to active participant in an array of dance, theatre, storytelling, audience interaction, participatory activities and a dance party.

PLEASE REGISTER, SIGN UP, BUY YOUR TICKETS: http://bit.ly/1uZHIi8

 

Sunday October 5th   ||    6 – 8 pm     ||     WORKSHOP open to 16 yrs plus and adults     ||    $35 (sliding scale available)

Solo & Social Awakening: Playing Games to Train the Creative Being

Synthesizing, translating and interpreting ideas and conversations through physical actions is a large part of Meagan O’Shea’s contemporary dance-theatre practice. Positing that art can be the R&D department for society she explores social issues through physical translations.

Conversations are one way to open up the collective mind, to share ideas and gain insight. Playing Games opens up the collective in a different way, letting us connect and share in new ways. Drawing on dance, theatre, improvisation, storytelling and somatic experiencing strategies, O’Shea will lead the group through individual and collective activities to explore ideas generated in the World Café conversation in the hopes of transformative experience. Open to everyone, wear comfortable clothes you can move in.

PLEASE REGISTER, SIGN UP, BUY YOUR TICKETS: http://bit.ly/1uZHIi8

 

 

Fall by foot

September 27, 2014 // by admin

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If the summer was about swimming in the sea (and oceans, ponds, lakes and rivers) then the fall is about putting my feet on the earth. I’ve been walking and walking and walking, eschewing almost everything else and just walking. First it was along the Halifax boardwalk and into Point Pleasant Park, then the Gatineau Hills, and now in the forests and ridges around Whitehorse.

A couple of years ago I was at a big fancy arts meeting place/conference and someone got up and spoke about the month-long walking festival she’d been a part of. I did not get it. Where was the art, what was the performance?

Then last week I was at Ramshackle Theatre’s Theatre in the Bush, www.ramshackletheatre.ca which is an in-situ festival, not dissimilar to Theatre SKAM’s Bike Ride www.skam.ca or Dusk Dances www.duskdances.ca or Baro d’evel’s Obres http://barodevel.com in that is it work that requires the audience to walk (or bike) between sites to experience the art. There are numerous other festivals that do similar things – Cooking Fire Theatre Festival comes to mind as well as Deer Crossing the Art Farm http://deercrossingtheartfarm.org/, and I understand how a walking festival can work. Or Burning Man for that matter. Reclaiming and reshaping space. It is in fact what I only instinctively understood but couldn’t articulate about my own “dance like no one is watching” project.

I get it now, I get walking.

I usually travel alone. It’s easier that way. But that kind of travel takes place on airplanes and involves navigating busy terminals and amusing oneself in the face of fatigue, time change and waiting.

Walking is about a quiet transformation. It’s about seeing where you are and what’s around you and gaining an understanding of the space you inhabit that isn’t possible through other means of transportation.

I don’t often know what I have contemplated on a walk but I am filled with the beauty of the world and with joy. I have the feeling that while I can’t ‘think’ about a problem while walking, I can suggest a topic to myself and walk, knowing that something is happening. Things are re-aligning themselves at a very deep level. And later the ‘answer’ to the ‘problem’ I needed to ‘think about’ will already be integrated into my psyche, like I’ve always knows it.

This is new. I was a very good plan-maker as a way to surmount most problems. I was the creative solutions gal. And I had the drive to make it all happen, on my own.

I have the feeling that this is no longer my M.O. Wanted or not.

I am happy walking in sunny autumn weather. I am finally breathing properly. I can feel my sternum soften and my diaphragm expand.

For the past two weeks I’ve been walking in the Gatineau Hills with my friend Megan Jerome and as we walk and talk I notice that I am able to see the connections between what are otherwise illusive ideas. That is all I’ve been doing. Walking and writing. And dancing and dating. I run to the hills. I cannot stay at the computer. I cannot stay in the house. I have to get outside and get up high and see from a perch and let the perspective come. Let the space of the world fill me with everything I need. And then I make the discovery that walking in the trees and rocks, away from the sun’s light and the long view is also nurturing.

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This walking connects me to the earth, literally (especially after more than 30 take-offs and landings in the last 3 months). And connecting to the earth connects me to myself, and then these great bits of knowing emerge, they just bubble up and are a part of my experience. And that makes me want to connect to others. To find the ritual and the sacred in the mundane and pedestrian. And right now that feels rather rebellious. Or revolutionary. And that is exciting.

Since hearing about that walking festival I have met and come to know about other amazing walkers:

Mathijs Poppe and Classroom Alive http://www.classroomalive.com/

Sideways Festival www.tragewegen.be

The late Oliver Schroer on walking the Camino de Santiago http://oliverschroer.com/about/camino_journal.html

All of this walking in the Gathineau Hills is just outside of Ottawa, my hometown, where I’ve walked many times. Retreading the same path from a different place.

The summer was about swimming in the seas and it was also about expanding my horizons and inputting vast new ideas and experiencing new concepts and questioning ways of relating. It was about the place of individual, partnerships and the collective. And this month has been about walking, about letting all this new information and experience integrate one walk at a time and about discovering how it will inform my practice.

And so, I am evolving my practice to incorporate some new forms and am inviting you who are in or near Ottawa to be a part of this October 2 – 5, 2014.

http://bit.ly/1uZHIi8

P.S. I love to bike. Give me a bike in a city any day.

 

Greece by Water

August 30, 2014 // by admin

Arriving in Greece – from the expansive skies of Sweden that never quite go dark in July – to the deep dense dark sky with stars so thick you can see two Milky Ways…

An airport so small on Skiathos I doubted I’d be able to find a bank machine. The taxi driver takes me through town, a bustling touristic pier with Russian and European tourists donning colourful consumerism, delighting in the show that is the atmosphere. I remember now that I never made it to Greece when I was 23 when all the other Aussies, Kiwis and assorted other backpackers on my Scottish track were heading to The Pink Palace for more fun than I could handle. (Funny how some things change and some don’t. I still don’t like overly crowded, dark, loud dance halls with loads of loaded people. I prefer my dance parties to have some light, some space and people who can dance and drink.)

So, Greece. We are driving through the town, the taxi driver has dropped off the other 3 passengers at hotels along the main strip, then around the bend at the no longer main strip. Then we continue, he and I. He says I look nice. Actually I think he looks pretty nice too. When he says this again a small alarm bell goes off in the back of my mind. Then he says that so many customers are rude to him. I think about taxi drivers being the welcoming committee to many places and how we think about trust. He thinks I both look nice and am nice. He says he might retire this year. I ask him what he’ll do. He says he’ll sleep in, go to his boat, have coffee, sail, swim, eat, nap, go visit his family and play with his grandchildren. He doesn’t look the way men who are ready to retire in Canada look. He looks vital. I am tempted to join him.

Instead he takes me to a deserted dock outside of town and in the dark parking lot a young man gets out of the car in bare feet. He’s taking me across the water, back to the main land where I’m to spend the next nine days. I think his name is Justice. He doesn’t talk much. He doesn’t have life jackets for either of us. There are no lights on his boat. We are speeding over the water, I am looking up into the abyss of stars and sky, perspective playing games with me. I feel trust. I realize that if I popped over the edge that’d be it. We are going so fast, bumping along on top of the waves. No life jackets, no lights. I think about my mom for a second, about all that she’d have to say about this, especially if it did all end here. But I know it won’t. I feel a deep trust in what is happening and what is to come.

We Create Conflict

August 21, 2014 // by admin

I recently created the Summing Up Session for the Kedja Encounter in Mariehamn, Finland. Kedja is a Dance Network of the countries of the Nordic-Baltic Region: Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The theme for the Encounter was Building Bridges and Sustainability and this resonated on many levels. The event hosted 250 artists, teachers, students, presenters, programmers, venues, managers, agents, producers, funders, policy makers, journalists, academics, and service organizations. There had been Think Tanks, Residencies, Mentorship schemes across countries, Writing Projects, and more as part of the 3 year project.

I was lucky enough to sit in on many talks and round tables and got to read the notes from several others.

Here are some of my thoughts as delivered through a participatory event that wrapped up the 5 days.

I began by asking all the artists present to stand in a clump, then for the managers, agents and service organizations to stand in a circle around them. Next, the presenters, programmers, venues, then the funders and policy makers, then the journalists. I’m not sure this is exactly the right progression, but it’s a start. I asked everyone to close their eyes and for any artist to start singing a note. When you hear this note, you sing it too. The artists are invited to nudge the notes this way and that, to evolve the sound, to harmonize, to play. The outer rings are invited to repeat what they hear. The ripple effect takes place and the sounds move from the core outwards, with beautiful delays in certain notes as it takes time to reach the outer circles. Then I whispered to the artists to become silent. It is eerie to stand in the centre of the circle and be in the silence but to hear the echo of your notes move away from you until eventually we are all silent.

“As artists we create conflict.”

This is a bit of a new idea for me. I like the part about artists being the research & development department for society. But I don’t like to think about the conflict part. And yet I have conflict in my life. I have had lots of conflict in my life. I like to think that we offer positive solutions, put good energy into the universe and generally inspire others.

“We stir shit up.

We ask people to step out of their comfort zones.

We ask society to look at itself.

We reflect and question what we see, sometimes seemingly creating more problems.

But, we also propose different perspectives, new paradigms and possible solutions.

We are attempting to re-somaticize* society.

We propose empathy, but sometimes we lack it in ourselves and for others.

Sustainability must come from within, we must create it in our most intimate spaces – our bodies and our spirits – and then expand it out to the choices we make in our lives and to those we interact with and then create it within our local communities and that will start to ripple out and create broader sustainability.”

Not always working together but in sharing practices, not always expanding, sometimes maintaining, sometimes contracting. But in creating sustainable practices within our dance communities, we create non-hostile environments where there is room to explore and grow, in whichever way serves and strengthens us.

Ok, this is a complicated point. It’s not always true. And it bumps up against the first one, we create conflict. But let’s try to be clear here, where is the conflict I propose? I propose it in a broad sense, as the questioners who are here to take up room, whom society cannot ignore. I do not propose it in interpersonal relationships based on disrespect. When I talk about sustainability in our communities, I am talking about respect. About not eating our own. About figuring out how competition can be healthy and not always paired with jealousy and mean-spiritedness. This would be a good place to put a link to a rant about training and how from a young age, girls in ballet are (often) pitted against each other and what that does to the psyche and how that plays out over dance careers and the gender roles that play out in the contemporary dance world. But, I don’t have that rant online (yet). It also ties in with attitudes and realities of scarcity and abundance.

“We need to be comfortable and we need to take risks.

So we are going to play a game. It is about friendly competition, about being on a team, about everyone winning and losing and winning again in the same beat and it not meaning anything because the point is that we continue. You belong no matter what the outcome of each play is. There is actually no getting out, you just keep changing sides. Does that work as a metaphor?”

Then we played a game, Wizards, Trolls and Elves. It went extremely well except that I chose gestures that an Icelander took exception to, because a troll would never… I have to do some more research on Troll behaviour, and Elf for that matter too.

“Like Occupy we are going to do a low-fi, manual mic check. So when you hear me say something, you repeat it until everyone can hear it.

We are gong to send our words out and they will get picked up and repeated and spread through all of us. When you hear a word, repeat it until it gets picked up.”

“We are here to change the world. This is a big task. We cannot do this until we feel supported.

Grab hands, we’ll make a circle. Lean in, and lean out. We are going to do a giant counter-balance through the whole group.

We are the ones we have been waiting for.

Even though you can’t see each other, you know you are all connected.”

There were about 100 of us participating on the lawn beside the arts centre. It was 5 pm on a Saturday so there were passers by. Once we’d finished – we mic checked with singing to close – we were milling about and sitting on the steps of the mini amphitheatre chatting, and 5 people who had taken a seat to see what we were up to got up and went out to the grass and tried to counterbalance in a circle. 100 to 5. Not great percentages, but still, changing the world, 100 to 5 at a time. That’s what we’re here for!

* Re-somaticize society; a term coined by Tomas Myers of Anatomy Trains