CTV Atlantic News Interview with choreographer Kathleen Rea
CBC Radio (French) Interview with company dancer Adrián Ramírez Juarez
Click here to listen: http://www.radio-canada.ca/util/postier/suggerer-go.asp?nID=1180289
Eating disorders, dancing in spotlight
From The Chronical Herald (http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/1200588-eating-disorders-dancing-in-spotlight)
Dance is for everyone — no matter what you weigh.
That was the message at a conference Monday on eating disorders in dance at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax.
The event was organized by the IWK’s eating disorder clinic, Dance Nova Scotia, the Self-Help Connection’s eating disorders project and Ballet Jorgen Canada. The aim was to educate dance teachers and studio directors.
“We can work together to create a better culture in dance that promotes healthy body image and healthy eating,” said co-organizer Megan Matheson Hamilton, executive director of Dance Nova Scotia.
She has a history with eating disorders and saw the event as a long-awaited step toward change.
Eating disorders are the third most common chronic illness among girls and carry the highest risk of death of any mental illness, according to the clinic.
Joanne Gusella was one of the presenters at the conference. She said she has treated a number of cases of eating disorders in children and young adults in dance in her more than 20-year career at the clinic.
“Dance is one of those activities that has a number of girls and boys who are perfectionists and have vulnerability for eating disorders because the sport itself focuses on esthetics as well as performance,” Gusella said.
Kathleen Rea is a psychotherapist and former National Ballet of Canada dancer who struggled with an eating disorder for 10 years.
“The very skinny weight that is required is purely esthetic,” Rea said.
“It doesn’t help people dance better — in fact, it hinders people from dancing.”
She gave a presentation on the need for dance teachers and studios to educate students and to adopt policies that promote healthy living.
“Policy change is the main thing. If a school has (a body) image policy and eating disorder policy from the get-go, then they’re going to create a culture of people feeling good about their bodies.”
Rea said teachers face liability if they do not intervene when they see a student is at risk. Having a policy would give teachers better resources to support a student who they suspect has an eating disorder.
It should include a list of warning signs parents and teachers should look for and details about what actions will be taken if a student has an eating disorder, she said.
Zeph Caissie walked away from the conference with a greater sense of how to discuss body image with his students.
He is the creative director of Diaga Irish Dance in Halifax and has brought in a nutritionist to talk with students about the importance of healthy eating.
“I promote eating for performance rather than esthetic,” Caissie said. “Most of my students are teenage girls, so they’re dealing with their own body images outside the dance class and so I’ve tried to create as much of a safe place as I can here.”
Change is happening, said Rea.
“I hope to see dancers on stage who are robust and healthy.”
Ballet Jorgen’s Romeo and Juliet probes tragedy’s humanity
From the Chronical Herald (http://thechronicleherald.ca/artslife/1200491-ballet-jorgen-s-romeo-and-juliet-probes-tragedy-s-humanity)
Romeo and Juliet is not just a great love story, says Bengt Jorgen.
“People think it’s a tragic love story, but it’s a great human life drama, a great metaphor for the arc of life,” says the artistic director of Canada’s Ballet Jorgen. “Things are compressed in the life of Juliet and it allows us to look at life in a much more intense way.”
The Toronto-based troupe presents the full-length ballet on Wednesday and Thursday at 8 p.m. at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium in Halifax with Symphony Nova Scotia playing the Prokofiev score.
In this version, the inevitable end takes the audience to a place that is not so dark, says Jorgen, who did the choreography.
Created 15 years ago as a co-production with the Banff Centre for the Arts, his version of Romeo and Juliet was seen as revolutionary because it compressed three acts into two and reduced the running time from three hours to two.
And though the essence hasn’t changed, there have been major revisions to reflect the company’s current dancers, so for audiences it might seem like a completely different ballet, he continues.
“There’s more dancing for the corps de ballet,” adds Hannah Mae Cruddas, who is in her third year with the company.
The 20-year-old Dartmouth native saw Tara Butler and Jorgen dancing the leads when the ballet was staged at the Cohn in 2003. Clea Iveson danced Lady Capulet, which is Cruddas’s role this time.
“She’s Juliet’s mother and in this version she’s the head of the household. Lord Capulet has been imprisoned,” explains the petite redhead.
“She’s headstrong and poised and keeps everything bottled up inside. She doesn’t handle stress well. She tries to be a good mother, but continuing the family name is more important than being a good mother.”
It’s a departure for Cruddas, who is used to being “a pretty ballet dancer.”
“There are entire scenes where her whole face is contorted. I’ve never had to be so angry, so desperate onstage. It’s a big change and fun.”
Cruddas says the cast works with both a dance and acting coach. Having appeared in several Atlantic Fringe Festival productions and in The Sound of Music at Neptune Theatre with her siblings Josh and Emma in 2005, she’s comfortable with the acting elements.
She has already danced the role on a tour to British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario, but the Halifax shows will be her first with live symphonic accompaniment.
“You bounce off the energy from the symphony. They share their passion, we share our passion, for one very passionate performance.”
The music was written in the 1940s, so it is a very contemporary score, very rhythmic and powerful, says Jorgen.
“It is a ballet score in the classical sense, but not from the classical time period. Musically, it appeals to younger people. It has a sense of brashness.”
“It’s very intricate, with a lot of layers, very danceable,” agrees Cruddas.
Romeo and Juliet is set in the past, but not in a particular time period, with what Jorgen describes as the most innovative sets the company has and the best touring costumes, lavish yet practical.
“And the sets work well with the choreography,” Cruddas says. “In some scenes, the sets move with the dancers.”
She says Lady Capulet is pretty much completely covered, with only her hands and face showing, while Juliet’s costumes are shorter and more youthful.
In Halifax, Saniya Abilmajineva, who was the lead in last year’s production of Swan Lake, will dance Juliet. Hiroto Saito, who previously danced the role with Butler, will be Romeo.
“Saniya is a brilliant dancer. There’s nothing she can’t do,” enthuses Jorgen.
Cruddas loves living in Toronto and touring with the company, which gives her “a chance to see the country and meet wonderful dancers and art lovers.” She’s both nervous and excited to perform in Halifax.
“I hope I can inspire young dancers here to carry on with dance and travel with dance in a way I’m blessed to do,” she says.
Each night, the show will feature 10 different dancers from New Glasgow, Truro and the Halifax area, from 11 to early 20s, in a variety of small roles.
Cruddas was one of the local dancers recruited for a production of Anastasia at the Cohn in 2007 and says it was a huge motivator for her career in dance.
Haligonian climbs to top of pole world
From The Chronical Herald (http://thechronicleherald.ca/thenovascotian/1201724-haligonian-climbs-to-top-of-pole-world)
A diminutive figure sits alone in the spotlight — legs crossed, head lowered.
As an oriental twang opens to an electro house beat, she rises — keeping time with the music — and moves lithely toward one of the two poles rising behind her from the stage floor.
Suddenly, she is in the air, holding herself aloft, contorted into seemingly impossibly positions.
Without warning she crosses to the second pole and begins to spin, upside down and suspended, in rotating, physics-defying manoeuvres.
All the while, she moves to the music, as the cheers and applause crescendo with each stunt.
The title-capturing routine finishes and she dismounts to an energetic ovation.
Suffice it to say, top-ranked Canadian pole dancer Candice Prior is anything but your average 63 year old.
Her onstage performance of Creature Thingy in the 50-plus masters division of the 2013 Canadian Pole Fitness Championship established her as the country’s top-ranked over-50 pole dancer. Now, five years after the Haligonian and longtime dancer first took her on-the-floor skills to the pole, Prior is preparing to compete in the world pole sports championship this summer in London, England.
“It’s an art form, it really is,” she said. “It’s an art form of the body.”
She has no lack of spunk. Measuring barely five feet, the energetic woman is quick to smile, with streaks of neon pink running through her bangs.
Injuries from a long career in professional dance — one that had her performing from Broadway to the White House and nearly everywhere in between — led the spritely United States transplant to the doorstep of Studio In Essence in Halifax.
Prior, who grew up outside of New York City but now calls Halifax home, began Pilates at the downtown fitness studio in 2007 and before long was instructing classes. A few years later, she tried her hand at pole sport and quickly found herself once again in the instructor’s seat.
Fast-forward five years and Prior is busy training in anticipation of competing on the world stage.
“Candice is quirky and fun, and it’s amazing that she’s going to the world competition,” said Shelby Williams, a fellow pole instructor at Studio In Essence.
Prior was one of Williams’s first instructors when the Dalhousie University student, now 23, first began pole classes in early 2011.
“She really helped me along the way getting to be where I am,” said Williams.
“She’ll push you and push you and push you until you get it, but in a good way,” she said, laughing.
“I think she’s just a great example of showing people that it’s never too late to start doing pole.”
Pole sport is a combination of acrobatics and dance centred around two metal poles — one fixed and another that spins.
Prior’s description is more succinct: “Gymnastics on vertical poles — that is exactly what it is.”
Although a long-established sport elsewhere in the world, especially Eastern Europe, pole has yet to take off in Canada, but it is growing in popularity.
Prior said she hopes her involvement at the worlds will help that campaign.
“I’m so nervous,” she admitted excitedly, talking about her pending inaugural debut at the worlds.
More than 100 competitors from 30 countries — Argentina to Ireland, Japan to Canada — are qualified to compete at this year’s annual London competition.
Judging pole sport competition is similar to skating or gymnastics, where points are awarded for particular tricks and deducted for mistakes.
“It’s very, very rigorous,” said Prior. “The majority of the people that are winning and doing this are all ex-gymnasts.”
Still, in Canada the sport has yet to gain widespread legitimacy.
Mention pole dancing to the average passerby and the first association will likely be to strippers.
Anything involving dance and poles has long been associated with strip joints, something Studio In Essence is trying to tackle in Nova Scotia.
“I think anyone who took the time to watch a single routine would never question us,” said Tori Fleming, the studio’s co-ordinator.
“When we go to get corporate funding we get emails back saying, ‘This doesn’t align with our morals,’ which is just code for they think we’re a stripping competition.”
Athletes do reveal ample skin, but Prior explained the logic behind the practice:
“Stick-tion,” she said. “If I had a leotard there, I would slide down (the pole).”
Competitions enforce strict dress codes, in part in an effort to protect the sport’s reputation.
“How low (the costume) can be in the front, in the back, what has to be covered — to the millimetre,” said Prior. “They’re very serious about it.”
The negative stereotype inherited by pole sport has been especially problematic for the campaign to gain official recognition as a sport from Sport Nova Scotia, a move that would open up funding and provide an extra degree of legitimacy to pole.
“(Pole sport) is not recognized in any of the other provinces, and I don’t think Nova Scotia wants to be first, which is too bad,” said Prior. “They could be trailblazers.”
According to her, Olympic recognition, which she predicted as not too far off, will make the difference. Meantime, Halifax’s pole matriarch continues to train, with her eyes on the prize.
“I’m hoping I win,” said Prior, laughing. “I’m certainly going to try my hardest.”
The world pole sports championship 2014 takes place July 19 and 20 in London.
Ballet Jörgen`s Romeo and Juliet