performance art

As a kid growing up in Red Deer, I loved being on stage. I took dance as a little kid. In elementary school I was part of the choir. In junior high I started taking drama as an option and then became involved with Treehouse Youth Theater. I was in 'Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves' and 'L'il Abner', and both productions of 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' that Red Deer College put on, once in 1993 and again in 1995. I was in numerous plays in High School and became interested in the backstage stuff; sound, lighting, sets and props. In college I registered for the Technical Theater program at Red Deer College. I saw a few of Andrew Lloyd Webber's touring productions; The Phantom of the Opera, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (with Donny Osmond as Joseph), Jesus Christ Superstar (with freakin' Ted Neeley from the 1974 rock-opera movie!) and Evita.

The thing I grew to really love and hate about being involved in theater was the time involved. You spent months working on a production, either rehearsing for it or building it. It was all you thought about. You didn't get to do things with your other friends, and sometimes you'd practice the same things over and over. If you weren't performing, the hours could be late, or long, or both. And once the show was up, depending on your roll backstage, there could be long stretches of time where you were merely waiting for your cue to hand someone something, or move something. What I loved about theater was the single minded focus on the project. It brought this group of random people together, with various skills and talents, and we were all working on the same thing. And opening night!! The butterflies in your stomach! Never mind closing night and the tears or the constant 'this is the last time we do this (scene, song, cue, dance, what-have-you)'. Then the production would be over, struck and you tried to fill the time in with other things that were...a little less interesting and all consuming.

It was a fucking roller coaster of emotions, energy and effort. But what a rush!

A friend of the BD's he met through work happens to be a Ukranian dancer and invited us to Malanka or Ukranian New Year at the Regional Center here in Vermilion back in January. It was a fun night of music, dance, visiting and carbs...uh.....delicious Ukranian food. I was excited to go and see our friend dance especially since I had never seen any Ukranian dancing. I thought it might provide some interesting opportunities for sketching and photographing. It did! Watching the some of the adult dancers backstage helping get the little kids ready for their performances brought back so many wonderful memories of all the times I was backstage waiting for my turn to perform. The excitement of getting costumes and having to put on make-up. The tension of waiting for the right cue in the music before you start a piece of choreography, and the stress of missing that cue by juuuuuust a second or two. And the weird dichotomy of giving it your all for the audience while simultaneously pretending there is no audience so you don't get freaked out and trip over your own feet.

I tried to convey those emotions in these pieces about the dancers. There are three distinct vantage points. The dance, backstage preparation, and waiting to go onstage to perform. Three of my most distinct memories of performing.

  the dance,  mixed media on canvas, 18x18(in), $570 + GST,  2018

the dance, mixed media on canvas, 18x18(in), $570 + GST, 2018

  getting ready to perform,  mixed media on canvas, 18x18(in), $570 + GST,  2018

getting ready to perform, mixed media on canvas, 18x18(in), $570 + GST, 2018

  watching the other dancers,  mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in), $250 + GST,  2018

watching the other dancers, mixed media on canvas, 12x12(in), $250 + GST, 2018

The movement of the dancers in the first piece is my favorite. Dancing with other people who know the same routine is so much fun. The casualness of the second piece as the woman adjusts the garment on the young man brings me right back to time spent in dressing rooms, putting on heavy make up and the clothing that made your character or performance really come alive...it's that funny limbo space; still yourself but nearly transformed for the performance. Then the third piece! I loved the bright yellow skirts and green vests this group of girls was wearing, and also how closely they watched the adult group perform. Most of the girls were either doing something with their hands or pacing a few steps. You have to do something with all that nervous energy before you go on stage!

My goal in this little series was to convey how these moments felt instead of just concentrating on how they looked. I think I was successful in both.