Opening this Thursday night, Dancers’ Studio West’s 2016 Dance Action Lab: Fear is a presentation of new choreographic works based on the theme of fear and its various manifestations. Linnea Swan is one of four choreographers whose work will be presented by DSW at the newly opened DJD Dance Centre.
Although born and raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Swan is no stranger to Calgary audiences. In February, the Calgary Underground Film Festival, in collaboration with DSW, screened Swan’s short film Swan Lake Syndrome as part of An Evening of Dance on Film.
“What initially drew me to film was during a particular period of reflection, when looking back on my career, I came to the realization that there really was very little evidence that it even happened,” said Swan who performed in the film, co-created with David Danzon. “I became somewhat obsessed with the impossibility of documenting performance, which brought me to the thought that perhaps the intimacy of the lens was in a sense just a different perspective on the essence of live performance.”
Swan arrived in Calgary from Toronto last September after “another period of reflection” made her want to be closer to her immediate family. She says that artistically, the decision to leave Toronto was made in response to the city’s “pace and lifestyle” that she felt made it difficult to focus on her work.
“I sense that perhaps it’s a prairie thing – related to landscape and isolation, but I’ve really been struck by how artists here have a graceful reverence to the work of the work,” replied Swan when asked about the dance community in Calgary. “It’s so easy to get caught up in other things and distractions around the work – particularly in larger communities, that often people lose sight of what a genuine gift it is to come together and create.”
On this subject of creating work, Swan says her time in the Dance Action Lab, a 10-week creative intensive that culminates in a final production, has been very positive thanks to the diversity and talent of the artists, who she has worked with daily in the studio.
“I just have to start by acknowledging the heart and soul of DSW that is the gracious and generous Davida Monk,” said Swan about the company’s artistic director. “She is a true master teacher, and this community is very fortunate to have her not only working tirelessly to keep DSW alive and thriving, but continually leading by example while also encouraging others to reach their full potential.”
About her interests as a choreographer, Swan says she is focused on developing work that is less abstract and more “solidly based in the physical rigour of dance, which also utilizes other disciplines to communicate a non-linear but tangible ‘story’.”
“Ultimately,” Swan said, “I find the truth infinitely more inspiring than fiction, so these days I’m mostly fascinated by working to develop persona – so not a ‘character’, but rather emphasizing or exaggerating a particular facet of one’s self as a starting point.”
Dancers’ Studio West presents the 2016 Dance Action Lab: Fear July 21st to 23rd, 8:00PM at the DJD Dance Centre. Tickets are $28 in advance online, and $35 at the door.