Image Description: Photo of Kay wearing a yellow top and black bottoms on staircase. The wall and staircase including handrails are all blue. Kay holds the railing and leans her body diagonally, replicating the shape of the staircase with her body.
Photo taken from the video exhibition piece Present In Absence (2021).
Present in Absence is an improvisational study using text and movement. The work is a collection of improvised dances from past rehearsals, performances and site-specific places overlaid with text. The text consists of simple action words along with names of the artist’s family members.The piece is a meditation on how ordinary practices become a gateway to meanings that serve to sustain us and deepen our identities. This solo study is based on the concept and direction from Present in Absence: Stillness in Duets Original concept, choreography, direction by Virginia Duivenvoorden and Kay Huang Barnes, VDCM, inspired by the writings of Mary Fulkerson.
Kay Huang Barnes is a first generation Asian choreographer, educator, and dance artist living in the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Salish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh Nations known as Vancouver. She danced professionally with Karen Jamieson. Her choreography has been featured in Vancouver BC, San Jose,
California, and Barcelona, Spain in numerous festivals. She is a faculty member at Arts Umbrella and UBC for over twenty years, teaching and mentoring young artists. She has piloted many dance outreach programs in Vancouver BC, including the Downtown East Side, Down Syndrome Research Foundation, Vancouver School Board, and the
Surrey School Board. She founded Crossmaneuver in 2011 as a vehicle for young artists to be trained and to participate in interdisciplinary works of art. Kay and Crossmaneuver has collaborated and produced works with Microsoft Vancouver, Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Little Mountain Lion Theatre, Davi Rodrigues, Lara
Baclay, Claudia Segovia, Jessica Ames, Amir El Ezaby, Roselle Healy. In 2020, she formed a collective with Virginia Duivenvoorden named VDCM to pursue performance and digital collaborative works.
In my work with young artists, I often find myself inspired and marveled at the complete trust and freedom that the young artists have in each moment. This has shaped me in ways beyond any training or professional experiences that I have had. When creating a piece, play and improvisation is crucial to finding materials and vocabulary. It is important to me to retain aspects of play and improvisation in a piece of work. It is the juxtaposition of set choreography and the permission to move in a completely different direction that is interesting and surprising to me. Would the audience be able to know which part is completely improvised and which part has been cataloged and rehearsed and repeated? How will the improvisation part of the piece affect the known part of the piece? Can the choreographic part of the piece be so precise and yet changes into improvisation constantly? And can meaning be applied before, during and after creation and performance? These are the questions that are being explored in the creation, rehearsal, and performance of “Present in Absence” – a solo improvisation performance with digital archives.
Visit our accessibility page for information on how to access CMHC Granville Island and our on-site exhibition. Video tours are available in spoke English with English captions and subtitle files in: Tagalog, Hindi, Simplified Chinese, and Punjabi. Audio tours are available in English, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Tagalog.
Present in Absence: Solo Improvisation Study
Choreography: Kay Huang Barnes
Video Art Direction: Kay Huang Barnes
Performer: Kay Huang Barnes
Videographers: John Stockburger, Virginia Duivenvoorden, Nico Dicecco
Video Editor: John Stockburger
Music: Kasper Konan, Daniel Josiah Ketler
Sound Design: John Stockburger
Closed Captions: Jamie Loh
Filmed on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Salish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh Nations.
This work is made with the support from:
The City of North Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver through the Arts & Culture Grants Program of the North Vancouver Recreation & Culture Commission.”
Developed in part through the Presentation House Theatre Creative Hub Co-operative. NewWorks Presentation, The
Dance Centre, CHMC Granville Island, VDCM, Stephen Barnes, Annie She