I am gone from the metal when the metal hits the mould, is Zahra Shahab’s latest choreographic work. Through detailed character play and interaction with sculptural materials, the audience is invited to discover a series of continually emergent fantastical identities.
The title of the piece, a line from a poem by Robert Bringhurst, illustrates the illusion of defining the self in any permanent way. Ever-changing, the essence of self cannot be moulded into a stable shape or form.
With a cast that centres Artists of Colour, the work explores the metamorphosis of codeswitching. It exposes how passing through and adapting smoothly to the world requires a multiplicity of characters to put on, toss off, and morph between. These characters serve as tools for survival and portals of expansion into ways of being that are beyond normative cultural scripts.
Settling into the liminal spaces between these characters, we excavate information from the vulnerable magma of transformation. The only certainty is flux, a space somewhere between dissolution and emergence.
Zahra Shahab is an independent dance artist and choreographer living on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish people. She is a graduate of the University of Calgary School of Creative and Performing Arts as well as the Modus Operandi Contemporary Dance Training Program directed by Tiffany Tregarthen and David Raymond. Often creating costume design or installation elements alongside choreography, her work looks to the fantastical to playfully imagine alternative futures and ways of being that exist beyond white supremacy. She has presented choreographic work and experimental films in Calgary at the Fluid Festival, Calgary Underground Film Festival, University of Calgary and Alberta Dance Festival, in Vancouver at Dance in Vancouver, The Dance Centre’s 12 minute max, Shooting Gallery Performance, Festival of Recorded Movement (F-O-R-M), and New Works, as well as in Toronto at the Toronto Dance Theatre’s Emerging Voices Program.
Born and raised in Calgary Alberta, Eric Cheung is a Chinese-born Canadian emerging dance artist. He has specialized in the street style of Popping for seven years. Eric is a core member of OURO Collective, and performed in HAKO, their latest creation. Through his work with the Collective, he is currently exploring other dance forms and practices such as contemporary and diverse street dance styles. He is passionate about advancing the boundaries of street dance and its possibilities by delving into different domains: performing in Virtual Reality (VR), creating dance films, and bringing street dance to a theatre setting.
Born in Changhua, Taiwan, Juolin Lee relocated to Langley, BC at age 13. Currently she is in her third year at Modus Operandi Vancouver Contemporary Dance program, under the direction of Tiffany Tregarthen, David Raymond and Kate Franklin. Through M.O. Juolin has worked with Shay Kuebler, Vanessa Goodman, Paras Terezakis, and Company 605, amongst others. She feels grateful to live on the unceded Coast Salish territories, of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Juolin is excited by the possibilities of dance. Her curiosity and passion for dance enhance her understanding of who she is and who she wants to become.
Sophia Wolfe is a contemporary dance artist who also works in visual media including photography, film, and video art. She is currently based out of Vancouver, Canada on unceded Coast Salish territories. Sophia graduated from Modus Operandi in 2014, and has since been dancing and touring with companies and independent choreographers such as Company 605, Co-Erasga, Chick Snipper, Cindy Mochizuki, Kelly McInnes, The Only Animal and New World Theatre. Sophia is the Artistic Director of F-O-R-M (Festival Of Recorded Movement) that includes international film screenings, community engagement, and commissioning youth artists to create new short movement films.
Courtenay Mayes is an artist and designer living on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish communities. Investigating shadow states and other realms of consciousness, her performative sensory experiments are informed by dreams, writing, literature and psychotropic experiences. She sits on the Board for Arts Assembly (Vancouver/Toronto) and is currently working in costume design, co-hosting guided meditative soundbaths and completing therapist training in Hakomi, mindfulness-based somatic psychotherapy.
Katie Green was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta and graduated in 2013 with distinction from the University of Calgary’s BFA program. She creates paintings on paper, large-scale mural installations, and fabricates masks and puppets. By working in public, Katie alters the physical, emotional, and imagined landscape of a specific community. When people are invited to envision a space or to participate in the transformation of their environment, collective questions are asked about envisioning and desire. In recent work, Katie has integrated mask-making into a community practice. She explores how wearing a mask allows wearers to temporarily escape societal constraints while invoking personal empowerment.
New Works gratefully and respectfully acknowledges that this event takes place on the ancestral, and unceded Indigenous territories of the ʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh) First Nations.
Images: Sophia Wolfe (top), Yvonne Chew and Zahra Shahab (bottom)