Last month April 19-21 Dancers’ Studio West presented Physic/Alchemy: An Evening of Choreography by Davida Monk. This show was the culmination of years of work that Davida Monk has created over her years as Artistic Director of DSW. Following the production, several dancers wrote of their positive experiences working with Davida and on their craft:

Jared Tobias Herring
Physic Alchemy endeavoured to transform not only dancers, but the audience. The project was successful in achieving this goal. I truly underwent a total shift. Due to the difficulty of class, I confronted my ego and self expectations time and time again. The only way to succeed in this project was for me to continually transcend myself in order to obtain the freedom to move and explore in the ways I
desired. I cannot stress enough how important this kind of serious work is not only for dancers and their audience, but for all who wish to grow. My connection to self has increased, allowing me to integrate further into all things. I feel infinitely fortunate for this opportunity and hope that many more are available in the future.

Katharina Schier
Very rarely do independent dance artists have the opportunity to perform in an evening of choreography like “Physic/Alchemy”. This experience of performing in multiple works by one choreographer is one only a dancer working for a professional dance company may
ordinarily have. Learning to switch costumes, hair, attitude, and intention backstage between pieces is perhaps the sign of a true artist. Having the chance to work on this and develop this skill is imperative. There is no other way to become a master of performance without practicing performance. I am grateful I was able to participate in these diverse works and develop the mental, physical and emotional work that goes into transforming form piece to piece in performance.

Moon in the Fox’s Garden ( Dancers: Nicole Charlton-Goodbrand, Valentia Dimitriou, Jared Tobias Herring, Meghann Michalsky, Sylvie Moquin, Rufi O. Rodriguez, Katharina Schier, photo by Citrus Photography, Choreography by Davida Monk)

Meghann Michalsky
It was a true honor to be a part of Physic/Alchemy. In Calgary, very few opportunities arise to be involved in a process like this. This opportunity provided a unique performance setting that was very challenging and rewarding to have experienced. I say this because all three choreographies required a different intention and use of physicality. Throughout the process, I experienced huge growth in my dance practice, technique, and performance skill-set because I was able to indulge in my craft and the knowledge that was shared
from Davida Monk.

Nicole Charlton
Opportunities, such as this one, are an important undertaking for organizations like Dancers Studio West, as there are limited projects of this kind offered within Calgary that promote full time training and rehearsals. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to participate in this endeavour, as projects of this magnitude are valuable to its participants and are essential in enriching communities. This high level of artistic work collectively raises the quality of future projects produced within Calgary, as well as offers a rich and intense performance experience for audiences now and in the future. Throughout my time in this process I found great value in working daily on my craft and being able to work so intimately with some of Calgary’s most experienced and celebrated artists. I will continue to carry forward the knowledge I have gained during this experience and will implement it into my own work in the future.

Sylvie Moquin
Davida’s works require the performer to completely immerse, on every level. The program of Physic/Alchemy had such diversity between the three works, and it was a challenging and exciting journey to transform between the three works, and to live within the complex and evocative worlds that Davida had created. Davida helped me access a level of calm on stage that I had never experienced before. Being a part of this project was challenging, rewarding and provided a level of change and growth in myself that can not be put into words. I am grateful for the opportunity and truly believe that Calgary needs to continue blossoming with projects of this caliber!

Ashes for Beauty (2017), Choreographer: Davida Monk, Dancers: Nicole Charlton-Goodbrand, Valentia Dimitriou, Jared Tobias Herring, Meghann Michalsky, Sylvie Moquin, Rufi O. Rodriguez, Katharina Schier, photo by Citrus Photography

Rufi O. Rodriguez
Like a steel plow churning up fertile soil, the force of Davida Monk’s artistry made a space for me to grow. My eye became sharper, my body more alive, and my commitment to beautify my community took root, like the kind of root that shatters concrete. My experience in Physic/Alchemy is incredibly valuable to me, but what metric of value can measure the soul? If you are asking me if it was worth it, indeed it was!

Valentia Dimitriou
I was lucky to have taken part in “The Call” a previous production with DSW, and I remember seeing “Moon in the Fox’s Garden” and “Ashes for Beauty” onstage. Now, I thank Davida for letting me into her other two past works and for allowing me explore “The Call” once again. I do believe it allowed me to cultivate my performance practice to higher lever than before, making dance and the calibre of the work very much worth watching. It was a great privilege to be taken into each of the three worlds on stage, and to have been able to share knowledge, emotion, and energy with the other incredible dancers. Committed dancers, who have dedicated their time to art and need to continue to be guided by mentors like Davida Monk and the people of DSW. I hope to continue seeing these opportunities in our city, as it will feed our souls and allow us to grow stronger as a community.

The Call (2016), Choreographer: Davida Monk, Dancers: Valentia Dimitriou, Jared Tobias Herring, Meghann Michalsky, Sylvie Moquin, Rufi O. Rodriguez, photo by Citrus Photography