Indian Dance Artist Guru Suraj at the June 30 to July 1, 2019, Contact Dance International Film Festival

Guru Suraj with Marielle GerkeGuru Suraj with Marielle Gerke

Guru Suraj, a dance artist living in Chennai, India is visiting Toronto to present his film Contact Improvisation Lab Goa, co-created with Rahul Varma and Hari Choudhary, at the Contact Dance International Film Festival. Their film was selected by the festival jury as a Silver Award winner. Guru will be accepting the award for his team at the July 1 Gala screening at the iconic Revue Cinema on Roncesvalles Ave in Toronto.

Guru-PortraitGuru Suraj is a painter, dancer, theatre artist, Yoga trainer and more. He graduated from one of the most established Art Institutions in India – The Government College of Fine Arts (Chennai) and has a master’s in the philosophy of Yoga. He started practicing Contact Dance Improvisation 10 years ago and fell in love with the form. Guru has taught Contact Dance in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and UAE and is a teacher and team organizer at popular Goa Contact festival. He has been instrumental in building the contact dance scene in India through his group Contact Improv India Organization, which focuses on spreading Contact Improv around India and making it accessible for everybody. Guru explains, “I see dance as not only everyone’s birthright but one of the greatest tools of awakening one’s consciousness and awareness. Dancing can be a mirror to look deeply into our self.”

Contact dance improvisation is a social dance involving touch, in which momentum between two or more people is used to create and inspire dance movements. Similar to martial arts like Aikido, momentum is harnessed through weight sharing and rolling point of contact. Contact dancers use these techniques, not to defend themselves, but to dance. The form requires a deep awareness that allows dancers to respond in the moment to their partner. There are no pre-set roles and the role of leader and follower interchanges and blurs together. Contact dance is accessible to people with no previous dance training and to people with physical disabilities.

The Contact Dance International Film Festival celebrates films featuring momentum-based dance created by some of the top creators and dancers in the field of Contact dance improvisation. It provides an opportunity for both film and dance lovers to experience the joy, chaos, and intimacy of human connection through physical movement. The Festival runs every two years on the odd years and is presenting its fourth season in Toronto, June 29 to July 1, 2019.

The Contact Dance International Film Festival was founded by local Roncesvalles, Toronto area resident Kathleen Rea through her dance company REAson d’etre dance productions.  Kathleen, a former dancer with the National Ballet Company of Canada, switched ship from ballet to Contact Dance when she tried it for the first time twenty years ago. At that moment, she decided to dedicate the rest of her life towards supporting and promoting contact dance. Kathleen explains, “Contact dance is just about the furthest form of dance from ballet. They are both beautiful but really are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Ballet is about control and exacting technique, while contact dance is more like surfing a wave that you do not have control of. One does not have control the momentum of another decent but it takes a practiced level of awareness and skill to this harness kinetic force ”

Kathleen goes on to describe her philosophy in creating a contact dance film festival. She says, “Contact dance is really an all levels dance form in which experienced dancers get just as much joy from dancing with a beginner as with more advanced dancers. I really wanted the Contact Dance International Film festival to have the same feel. So, we program all level films! This means that films with high production values are screened right next to Instagram clips filmed on someone’s smartphone.”

8 up for guru hari trailer just GURU

Dancers Guru Suraj, Marielle Gerke and Hari Choudhari

The festival has always received submissions from around the world, but Kathleen noticed during the submission phase this year that there was an increased level of diversity. Since Toronto is such a diverse city, she was excited that the festival content was starting to come close to matching the level of diversity in the city in which it is occurring. Contact dance improvisation is not a codified dance form and as such every part of the world practices, it in a different way led by their community’s curiosities and interest. When different groups meet there is a chance for a rich and inspiring exchange of new ideas can that invigorate the community.

This increase in diversity of films submitted to the festival is partly due to the growing contact dance scene in India and the draw and history this community has to dance filmmaking. This season CDIFF is screening 4 films by Indian filmmakers. The popular Goa contact festival has in particular been the springboard for the creation of numerous contact dance films. A documentary on the Goa festival won an award in the 2015 festival. Two of the four Indian films this year were created in Goa and both have won festival awards. Guru’s filmmaking team has won the CDIFF silver award and Rohit Prem is a co-winner of the CDIFF emerging filmmaker award.

49519672_224744498440945_2484070777469534208_nFilm-still from Rohit Prem’s film Contact Improvisation Goa India with dancersRosolind Hogate Smith and Ariane Bernier

Possibly Bollywood culture plays into the fact that so many contact dance films are created by Indian filmmakers. Dance in Indian films has had a large cultural imprint both in India and on the world and Indian contact dancers may naturally gravitate towards creating films focused on dance because of this cultural history.

The Contact Dance International Film Festival invited Guru Suraj to come to Toronto to pick up the Silver Award on behalf of his filmmaking team and to network and share knowledge with the Toronto Contact Dance community. After a lengthy and involved visa application process, the Canadian Government initially claimed that they did not believe Guru would leave Canada after his visit and denied him a tourist visa.

Kathleen says, “as Canadian citizenship, international travel is a relatively easy thing for me. I was shocked at how involved the application was to apply for a tourist visa to Canada for many of the festival’s filmmakers from countries targeted with strick and involved travel visa policies. When two of our filmmakers received visa denials, I came to understand better how access to travel can affect a person’s career trajectory. The Canadian government’s belief that Guru would not leave Canada was unfounded. He is teaching in Germany later in the summer. He is a well-known and respected dancer who has made it his life work to bring contact dance to India. Why would he want to stay in Canada?”

Guru Suraj and Maite Moreno Martínez
Guru Suraj and Maite Moreno Martínez

Both Kathleen and Guru did not want the rich cultural exchange to be swept aside by travel policies that target certain regions of the world. In one week, they raised enough funds to hire Bondy Immigration Law to reapply for Guru’s tourist visa. A petition was also started that garnered 1440 signatures. Federal MP Arif Virani got on board as well, writing a letter of support for Guru’s re-application. The Contact Dance International Film Festival was moved by the level of support from both the Toronto and the international contact dance community. The team effort paid off as Guru received his Canadian travel visa on his third application.

Indian Contact Dancer Guru SurajGuru says about this visa application process, “…What a start for a journey, journey before the journey itself. I have never been involved in such a fight or had to ask for so much support or have received so much love. And as I receive the visa… I feel a lot of gratitude for everything that happened. I’m grateful for the determination … of Kathleen Rea to try every way possible to make this happen. I remember her saying: “you are coming to pick up this award!” But also to make this case as loud as possible. It’s such an eye opener for people who were not aware of this regional discrimination and travel politics. This goes far beyond my personal opportunity to travel and teach. What I received will be shared with my co-artists here [in India]….. And this is also about carving the paths for Artists from all parts of the world to have equal opportunities to share their work. And about the strength of this nomadic CI community that truly backs up its members when needed.”

Kathleen says,  “I am late in the game in terms of realizing how much access to travel imbalances have shaped the international Contact dance improvisation community. The fact that many contact dancers have to go through months of rigorous visa applications and frequent denials creates an imbalance in terms of who can build their career through international travel. I wanted in some small way to repair this imbalance by supporting Guru in obtaining his travel visa, but it is not enough actually. What I would like to see is that a global discussion starts in the contact improvisation community around this issue that leads to practical solutions. Festivals could have a travel access fee added to registration to be used to support those having trouble getting visas. If those of us with travel privilege can pitch in to support those without the privilege then I hope things can become more balanced. Money raised could be used as well for education about the issue and on lobbying countries that have unfair travel policies targeting certain regions. As a Canadian, I am ashamed to say that Canada is one of those countries.”

Come out and meet and learn from Guru Suraj at the Contact Dance International Film Festival occurring June 29 to July 1, 2019, in Toronto.

More info:
contactdancefilmfest.com

Box office:
https://contactdancefilmfest2019.eventzilla.net/

 

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Newton Moraes depicts Multi-Faceted Depths of Letting Go

Newton

This review is written by Guest Blogger Leslie Heydon:

I had the privilege to witness an excerpt from “IHU” presented Tuesday at the Aki Studio as part of CPAMO’s 10th Anniversary.  In the language of the Kamayura people of Brazil, IHU means everything which can be heard and includes the supernatural, the sound of spirits and the magical beings of the forest.  “IHU” choreographed by Newton Moraes and mentored by Jean Sasportes (Pina Bausch Wuppertal Tanztheater) represents his personal journey of self-discovery, acceptance of all aspects of his spirit, and triumph over prejudice through the development of his spiritual self.  After his partner passed away in 2008, Moraes wanted to leave everything and go back to Brazil. This challenging phase in his life was the inspiration for the creation of  “IHU”, a tribute to Robert Shirley. The excerpt of “IHU” I saw was a solo dance performed by Newton Moraes with lighting design by Gabriel Cropley.

Moraes’ performance was physically high energy and paired with deeply rhythmic music it projected an urgency that held my rapt attention.  During part of the piece, he donned a clear plastic face mask that referenced feminine ideals of beauty.  By partially obscuring his face the mask conveyed a sense of disconnection and discomfort.  It spoke to me of the brittle pretext of outer world coping contrasted with an internal struggle.  While wearing the mask, Moraes interacted with audience members creating a sense of connection that was both comforting and gave me an unsettled feeling of apprehension.  This juxtaposition of contrasting emotions elicited through the mask and Moraes’ visceral movement style was compelling and I feel represents the crazy ride of grief in which so many contrasting emotions come in waves.  Moraes’ performance was powerful yet vulnerable and thus poignant.

I look forward to seeing one of Moraes’ full length works.

LelsieLeslie Heydon 
Leslie Heydon has a bachelor’s degree from U of T (Major in Psychology, Specialty in Fine Arts). Leslie trained as an Expressive Arts Therapist at the CREATE Institute and worked in addictions for over 10 years in specialized programs for women and black youth, providing individual therapy and facilitating groups. Her passion is to explore and guide others to explore the internal wilderness of the soul.

 

Female Choreographer Found: Roshanak Jaberi is a Force to Reckon With

Jaberi Dance Theatre's No Woman's Land-Irma Villafuerte in front-ph by Wayne EardleyIrma Villafuerte in “No Woman’s Land” photo by Wayne Eardley

The spotlight over the past years has turned towards the under-representation of female choreographers in the established dance companies. In the press and social media, I have seen a repeat of the same sort of questions and thought processes in regards to this issue that goes something like this “… where are all the female choreographers?”  or “why aren’t there more female choreographers” or “If only there were more female choreographers then we could hire them”. While it is great to see the press and dance community having these discussions, I would like to counter by saying we are not that hard to find. We are mostly finding our way, on our own terms by starting our own companies and self-producing. They should concentrate on finding us, seeing our shows and writing reviews. This would shine a spotlight on our work that can help even out the gender inequalities we face. Roshanak Jaberi is an Iranian-Canadian female choreographer whom I had no trouble finding. I would like to shine some stage-light on this talented and brave creator.

I just came home from Jabari’s production “No Woman’s Land”, created for her company Jaberi Dance Theatre and presented by DanceWorks at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre in Toronto. Jaberi Dance Theatre is a multi-disciplinary performing arts company that explores socially relevant content and highlights the lived experience of racialized women. “No Woman’s Land” tells stories of refugee women fleeing their homelands due to acute starvation, poverty, natural disasters, armed conflict and war. Roshanak engaged in an intense research phase with the support of IRIS (Institute for Research and Development on Inclusion and Society) and scholar Dr. Shahrzad Mojab. The work that arose out of the stories and information collected is a weaving of dance, visual images, text and sound. Pre-show, the stage is set with something that looks like the frame of a tent. Light shines through the frame casting shadows that look like bars of some virtual prison. Or perhaps they are a net that will hold the audience together while we witness the stories that are about to unfold.  One of the beautiful aspects of Jaberi’s work is that the images portrayed hold multiple meanings and tones, creating a richly layered tapestry.

The work starts at high velocity with the frame turning over to become a boat. Images of a storm are projected over all surfaces of the stage. We witness refugees fighting for their lives in stormy waters. The choreography is direct in its movements, but the nuances are complex and cut deep into the heart. The cast (Irma Villafuerte, Nickeshia Garrick, Victoria Mata, Denise Solleza, Drew Berry, Ahmed Moneka) are fully committed. One can sense they know the importance of the job they have in bringing these stories to the stage.

Jaberi Dance Theatre's No Woman's Land-Victoria Mata, Irma Villafuerte, Drew Berry-ph by Wayne EardleyVictoria Mata, Irma Villafuerte & Drew Berry in “No Woman’s Land” photo by Wayne Eardley

The program includes a fold-out pamphlet that educates the public about the world-wide refugee crisis. We learn that 68.5 million people have been forced from their homes and that one person is forcibly displaced every two seconds. We learn that approximately one in five women in refugee camps are sexually-assaulted. This statistic is brought to life on stage through Irma Villafuerte’s solo that depicts unwanted hands reaching for her body through “bars”, and through a voice-over of a young girl’s story of a brutal rape. The pamphlet also describes how refugee women become shrewd survivors through their lived experience, finding strategies, cunning and independence.  In a fierce solo by Nickeshia Garrick, sharp movements cut through the air with grace and speed. Every cell of her body exemplifies pride and beauty that dismantles the stereotype of the helpless, passive victim.

Jaberi Dance Theatre's No Woman's Land-Victoria Mata-ph by Wayne Eardley
Victoria Mata in “No Woman’s Land” photo by Wayne Eardley

In another scene, dancers frantically fight for limited buckets. The rattling sound of hollow metal clanging reverberates on stage, a music score that gives the audience a felt sense of the panic of thirst. The buckets then become stepping stones across minefields or seats at a social gathering that gives relief from the worries of being displaced. Text and projected images deliver story and setting, but dance is the element that delivers the emotional world hidden behind the words and statistics. This embodiment is what brings the stories home to those witnessing. Throughout the work a repeated poem delivers the message that people flee their home when fleeing is safer than staying. This made me think of what it would take to make me grab my kids and flee. A vital aspect of “No Woman’s Land” is that it invites the viewer into an immersive art experience that encourages the viewer to imagine what it would be like if those circumstances unfolding on stage happened to them. Jaberi’s states in her program notes that “No Woman’s Land” does not attempt to present solutions to systemic systems of oppression that lead and influence the refugee crisis.  Rather, she hopes the work will start discourse amongst those in a position of influence. 

Roshanak Jaberi is a brave and articulate choreographer with a strong vision. I look forward to seeing more of her work in the future.

 

Filmmaker uses her craft to transform the world:  an interview with Olya Glotka

Interview date: June 2017

TeamOlyaOlya Glotka, a self-made filmmaker based in Toronto, is transforming the contact dance improvisation community she is a part of.  Contact dance improvisation is a social dance involving touch, in which momentum between two or more people inspires dance movements. Like martial arts, it uses a rolling point of contact and trains the ability to sense one’s partner’s movements. There are no set gender roles which enable a fluid exchange of lead and follow.  With limited resources, Olya decided to embark on a self-training program to become a filmmaker. Her goal was to make one-hundred dance films. Currently, she has just finished her fifty-eighth film and has already started to win awards. Her films showcase a range of people from beginners to professional dancers. In several of her films, Olya has chosen to showcase dancers using wheelchairs. When watching her films, one starts to see the beauty that she sees in all people. You start to see that dance is for everyone and can be done everywhere.

Kathleen Rea, director of the Contact Dance International Film Festival, recently sat down with Olya to find out what drives her as a filmmaker.

KR: When did you first fall in love with contact dance improvisation?

OG: I was at my first contact dance improvisation workshop and we were doing an exercise in which one person is lying on the ground and the other person practices balancing their weight on their partner. As I felt the compression from my partner’s weight on my back, I suddenly realized that I had a body. I know that might sound strange. Analytically I knew I had a body, but this was the first time I understood from the inside out that my body existed. This was such a new feeling for me because I was a sickly child growing up. There was so much fighting, anger and negativity around me and I think my body reacted by being in pain. I was in and out of the hospital. Being sick became my identity. But in that first contact dance workshop, I started to see myself in a new way… one in which my body was strong and was something I could depend on. I started to see my body as a source of creativity. These realizations changed everything that came next.

KR: What else is it about contact dance that is healing for you?
OG: For me something fundamental changed inside me when I, this “tiny, little, pretty girl” learned to pick up a full-grown man and carry him across the room! You see, for me contact dance is my life’s lab. It is a playground where I can try out things or ways of being that I am scared to do in “real” life. Dance improvisation helps me face my demons and in so doing learn to face myself, to fall in love with all that is in me.

KR: I understand. I use contact dance in that way too. So, when did you become interested in dance film?
OG: Four years after my first encounter with contact dance improvisation I went to Allen Kaeja’s dance film workshop. That experience answered a question for me: “why can’t I stick with anything?”. You see, as a kid, I would do all kinds of arts and crafts. I went to art school, studied piano, guitar, creative writing, songwriting, did crafts, sewed my own clothes and went to theatre school. I was good at everything I tried yet I never ever stuck with it. I would quit after a year or two and I always felt like a failure. When I made my first little dance film in Allen’s workshop, I had this “Aha!” moment. The skies opened, I heard the angels sing and my life finally made sense. All the art forms I had ever loved were encapsulated and merged into one – filmmaking.

KR: You did your first contact dance workshop just before the 2015 Contact Dance International Film Festival. Did that festival influence you?
OG: Oh yes. I was so inspired by the films I saw I couldn’t sleep for two days. When I took Allen’s film workshop I knew I wanted to make dance films, but I didn’t know if there was a place for them. Then I went to the Festival and I saw there would be a place for my work. I knew the next Festival was in 2017, so I decided to get busy.

KR: How did you go about pursuing this new-found art form? Did you enroll in a film school?

OG: No. I didn’t have the resources that would allow me to get any long-term professional training. So I decided to do it myself. I set a goal of making one hundred dance films.

KR: Kind of like Malcolm Gladwell’s idea that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a master at something. How many hours have you logged so far?

OG: I’ve filmed about seventy dance film projects and completed fifty-eight of them. So I only have forty-two films left to reach my goal.

KR: From your first dance film to your fifty-eighth what has been your progression?
OG: It is very entertaining to look back at my first films and see the quality of them. Very basic. Very boring. Very self-centered. I think I am now better at engaging the viewer. I understand that I need to edit in service of the film instead of in service of myself. This has helped me tighten up the pacing of my films. I have learned the technical aspects of the craft and this has improved image quality. I have cultivated my voice and artistic vision and I think it is now more direct, meaningful and thought-provoking. When dancers and artists ask me for advice about how to “turn into a filmmaker”, the only thing I can say is, “go make 100 films”.

KR: Besides making one hundred films, what else was involved in this progression. How did you teach yourself all the different aspects of filmmaking and find your creative voice?

OG: For a year, I woke up every Monday two hours earlier then I needed to, and participated in free online courses on all aspects of filmmaking. First, I learned editing, then production, then camera movement and so on. I had four part-time jobs at the time and I didn’t even own a camera and somehow, I managed to work on over sixty film projects that first year. I would study in the morning and then go to my nine-to-five retail job where I’d listen to hours and hours of film-related podcasts. My evening job was babysitting and when the kid would fall asleep, I’d open my laptop and edit, edit and edit. Then I’d run home to sleep. I would repeat the whole cycle again the next day for the rest of the work week. Then I had the whole weekend to shoot! I had lots of friends in the contact dance improvisation community who were eager to dance and help. Because I was making so many films, I was able to explore the medium and quickly get results by trying different things and learning lessons from my mistakes.

KR: That’s intense.

OG: Whether watching dance films or editing my own work, when something would catch my eye I would always ask myself the same questions: “why do I like this?” or, “why do I not like that?” I would look at it over and over, trying to figure it out and I would either try to recreate the effect later or try to avoid it if I didn’t like the effect.  I was in a loop of learning, try, analyze and then repeat. I fed back into the loop everything I learned and figured-out, as well as feedback from others. I was exhausted by the pace but also happy.

KR: I know that you were born and raised in Ukraine. Can you tell us the story of how you came to Canada?

OG: I never planned to move to Canada. In fact, I always dreamed to dedicate my life and art to my home country. I grew up in Ukraine, and when I was eighteen I left so I could learn life by traveling the world; just myself and a few dollars in my pockets. During my travels, I fell in love with a Canadian and after several trials of getting my partner adapted to the life in Ukraine, we gave up and ended up here in Canada. I really had planned to live my life in Ukraine. I had always imagined that I would be able to help my troubled country. To be one of the young people fighting for human rights. I think this fight for human rights still lives in me. All my dance films are a celebration of human rights. A celebration of people.

KR: How else does being Ukrainian influence your work?
OG: I think Ukrainian people have this ability to work hard for the things they want in life because that is the way of life there. Also, growing up in Ukraine I learned the value of family and community. When things are tough these two aspects of life are the only solid ground that enables survival. After I came to Canada the relationship that brought me here ended. I was alone in a new country. I had not been dancing because my ex was not comfortable with contact dance improvisation. Leaving the relationship meant I was free once again to pursue dance. I came to a Toronto contact dance jam and met my new “family” that would provide me with solid ground. Knowing how vital this was for me strengthened my drive to build community through dance. I started a new Contact Dance Jam in the east end of town for this reason as well as to get more dancing in.

KR: Does your queer identity influence your work?

OG: It makes me question a lot! It inspires me to create something different that will challenge the norm of, if there is a man and a woman on the screen, they must be in love, have been in love or are about to fall in love. It has always upset me to see the lack of other types of relationships on TV and film. A man and a woman don’t have to only be lovers, they can be siblings, family members, best friends, soul mates, opponents, business/dance/sports partners. Two women don’t have to be either friends or competitors. They can be lovers, muses, partners in crime, sisters for each other. And men can be nurturing and sensual with each other.

KR: So you feel that people would benefit from seeing gender roles represented in a more fluid manner.

OG: In terms of gender stereotypes, I grew up in a world where everyone was telling me that girls are stupid, mean and catty. Once I discovered this belief in me as an adult, I spent years healing from it.  I am committed to doing anything I can to change pop-culture and the message we put out there so people can see the infinite range of possibilities.


KR: Can you tell us about your recent 30 Days of Contact Dance project?

OG: I made thirty films in thirty days. Over fifty dancers were involved in the project, most of them from Toronto. It was a tribute to the Toronto contact dance improvisation community.  It is my way to thank the community for being there for me when I was struggling. My partner, Kim Simons, who is also a contact dancer was an integral part of the project. She alternated between camera person and dancer and offered support and encouraged throughout. It felt great to find a creative outlet that we could share. The first film in the series involves Kim and I dancing everywhere we could think of: the beach, a dollar store, the gym, a couch, a swamp, leaves, snow, hallways, living room floor.

KR: Now, ten films from this project were selected by the jury for screening at the Contact Dance International Film Festival, which is coming up at the end of June. I was overseeing the jury and remember a big discussion they had about whether it was fair to program so many of one filmmaker’s films. Finally, one jury member said let’s not think of that question and instead think of the merit of each film separately. Also, of note is that Allen Kaeja, your first film teacher is staring in one of the films, Farewell to Honest Ed’s with his wife Karen Kaeja. How did that feel?

OG: It definitely gave me a feeling of coming full circle. I felt that by appearing in one of my films he had recognized me as a fellow filmmaker and that felt really good.

Another one of the films in the festival, that especially moves me is Contact Dance Every Body, which features Luke Anderson, who dances using a wheelchair.

OG: I met Luke at a party. I was contact-dancing with someone and he came up after and asked, “what was that?” I started telling him about contact dance but then I realized that none of the regular Toronto contact dance spaces were wheelchair accessible. I felt terrible seeing how eager he was to try it and knowing that it was not accessible to him.  Meeting Luke inspired me to start my own all accessible monthly contact dance improvisation jams at Artscape. Later I asked Luke and his friend Laura if they wanted to make a dance film. We met at their favorite place, the Art Gallery of Ontario. Luke was very nervous because he hadn’t done much contact dance. But when they started to dance, his nerves melted away. When I edited the film, I frequently had tears in my eyes. Their dance was so tender and the look in Luke’s eyes was so alive. I have been told by the Festival that this film has been selected for a prize and to prepare a speech. We are so excited about the attention the film is receiving because it has such potential to break down barriers faced by people with physical disabilities.

KR: What is your vision for contact dance improvisation. Where do you see it potentially heading?

OG:  I really see contact dance in a much broader sense than most. I think contact can be a way of living a life in which there is more connection and touch. It can teach mothers how to playful interact with their kids. It can give elderly people a much-needed sense of community and connection. I really want contact dance improvisation to move beyond the dance studio and offer its healing properties to all. For me, ensuring that this dance form is accessible to people who can benefit from it is a human rights issue.

KR: Now that I think of it, not one of your dance films are filmed in a studio. They occur inside and outdoors in public spaces. They occur in people’s homes. They occur in the rain, in the snow, and in the blazing sun. Your films really do show that we all can dance wherever we are. Thank you for sharing your story. I think it can inspire many people. And a warning if you run into Olya at the film festival she might just convince you to star in her next dance film.

OG: [laughs]. Yes, there is a chance that will happen! Thank you, Kathleen.
This interview was done in June 2017.

Here is our update. The Contact Dance International Film Festival returns for its fourth season, June 29 to July 1, 2019, in Toronto Canada. This festival, produced by REAson d’etre dance productions, celebrates films featuring momentum-based dance created by some of the top creators and dancers in the field of Contact Dance Improvisation. Four different screening programs will be presented alongside dance workshops, jams, and parties. The upcoming June 29 to June 30, 2019, Contact Dance International Film festival will screen two new films by Olya. Visit  www.contactdancefilmfest.com to see the line-up.

Olya is now working full-time as a filmmaker.

Wyatt’s Best Kid-socks for Sensory Feet Review

If you are left scratching your head at why socks are such a big issue for some kids then you have never experienced a child in a full-on sock meltdown. When a child with sensory issues experience discomfort with how their socks feel…. how they bunch up, or have seams, or do not stay up or aren’t the right color, the feeling can intolerable. For them, it can feel like real physical pain and they do what any person would do who is in severe pain…. they kick, scream, thrash, cry and yell.

For my nine-year-old son Wyatt, who has high functioning Autism, comfortable socks are super important for him. The other day I noticed that his favorite McGregor Happy feet socks were all developing holes!  I tried to order more only to find McGregor had discontinued their kid’s line. I panicked, with visions of meltdowns. Then I rallied and after a week of careful research, I bought the four socks in this review.

Wyatt agreed to help out other kids and parents by helping me create a sock review and out of hardship the Best Kids, Socks for Sensory Feet Review was born!

1 # Darn Tough Hiss Micro Crew Light Sock – Kid’s Gray Large



Price: $13 US for one pair of socks
Fabric make-up: 74% Nylon 21% Merino Wool 5% Lycra/Spandex
Fabric thickness: medium
Texture: A bit rough on the outside but softer on the inside. After several washes, they soften up some. As with most patterned socks, there are some threads on the inside but Wyatt didn’t mind this. Also, the sock has such a firm feel on the foot that these threads do not bother my son because the sock does not move around. Also, they have some socks with less patterning (so fewer thread bits) so if it is a problem just get those ones.
How seamless are they? They are virtually seamless socks. The seam feels like a change in texture rather than a ridge. If you turn them inside out there is a thread coming from the end of the seam on both sides but that can be trimmed if needed. I think it all works for Waytt because once he gets the perfect sock placement the socks stay put. So things like changes in texture or threads that bother him on other socks do not bother him with these socks.
Stay up and bunchiness: These socks are the best on the list for staying up and staying put! No slipping, no bunching, and no blisters.
Rain boot test: These socks past the rain boot test with flying colors!
Durability: Darn-tough has a lifetime guarantee. A friend of mine had a pair that got holes after fives years. He returned them and they sent him new ones. So their lifetime guarantee and return policy is for real. So these socks are definitely the most sturdy on the list. The durability of these socks prevents I believe will help avoid meltdowns for Waytt. Change can be hard for kids on the Autism spectrum. Once they get used to a certain feel and look of a sock having to get new socks even if they are the same brand can be very upsetting. With this sock, they will have the same feel, and pattern until they grow out of them and need the next size up. For me, this is the best part of this sock.
Size: Fit as expected. Please note darn Tough has juniors sizes (9-kids to 6-youth US sizes) but does not have sizes for very small kids.
Color and style: Great fun patterns. Darn Tough does sell sock with less fancy patterns than the ones we bought and these have fewer threads on the inside.
Odor: Naturally Antimicrobial Mareno wool repels bacteria and odor
Sock Melt Down Prevention Meter: 10/10 in our house (but some kids might not like the threads on the inside and the subtle seam might not be subtle enough)
Summary: The most expensive sock of this review initially does not seem like the favorite because it was not as soft or seem-free and not completely seam-free. Although after much wear holds up better under scrutiny on many counts. In the end, these fun patterned socks that last forever, stay-put even after a good run and have tolerable seams are Wyatt’s favorite in the Best Socks for Sensory Feet Review.

2) Jefferies Socks Big Boys’ 9-1 Seamless Casual Crew (Pack of 3), Black, Small

Price: $10.99 US for three-pack ($3.66 US per pair of socks)
Fabric make-up: 76% Cotton, 22% Nylon, and 2% Spandex.
Fabric thickness:
thin
Texture:
 Soft
How seamless are they? There is still a small seam. There are little bumps on each seam-end. If you turn them inside out there is a thread coming from the end of the seam on both sides which has been reported to bother some kids but can be trimmed if needed.
Stay up and bunchiness: The ribbing at the ankle is somewhat slouchy and they tend to slip down. They move around some which put them at risk for bunching up.
Rain boot test: These socks moved around in rain boots and slip off
Durability: They are reported to last over a year of regular wearing.
Size: Fit as expected
Color and style: Only dark of white socks to pick from in Jefferies’ seamless variety.
Odor: Not especially made for odor prevention although they are 75% cotton so should do okay on the smell front.
Sock Melt Down Prevention Meter: 8/10
Summary: The most economical sock of this review holds up reasonably well under scrutiny on many counts. Some parents say there were too many bumps and seems for their kids and others say these socks work well for sensitive feet. Not the right socks for those that want their socks to stay up in rain-boots.

3) Rambutan Kids (3 Pack) Comfort Seam Plain Color Bamboo School Socks (3-6 (Teens), Navy)

Price: $16.60 US for three-pack ($5.53 US for one pair of socks)
Fabric make-up: 75% bamboo, 22% polyamide, and 3% spandex.
Fabric thickness: Medium thickness
Overall comfort: Super Soft
How seamless are they? There is still a seam in these but it is hand stitched so you really can’t feel it. There are little bumps on each end side of the seams, but pretty much seamless across the toe area. If you turn them inside out there is a thread coming from the end of the seam on both sides which can be trimmed.
Stay up and bunchiness: They stay up fairly well and do not bunch up too much.
Rain boot test: They moved around a bit but generally stayed up.
Durability: Because they are so soft they tend to pill. The white ones seem to pill more than darker colors for some reason. One sock got a hole after going through its first wash.  But this might be an anomaly as the others are faring well.
Size: Fit as expected
Color and style: A few different colors and patterns.
Odor: These socks work wonders as a fix for smelly sweaty feet.” An Amazon reviewer says “It’s amazing how well they work at eliminating stinky feet!”
Sock Melt Down Prevention Meter: 8/10
Summary: These socks are super soft and almost seamless and they were initially Wyatt’s number one choice in the Best Socks for Sensory Feet Review.  The properties of Bamboo tends to reduce sweating and odder and so they are also the number one pick for sweaty/smelly feet. However due to to the fact that they pill and may develop wholes quick than other socks on the list they are not mom’s number one pick. The per sock price makes them one of the more economical socks on the list but if they do not last as long as the other socks on the list this their economical price may not pay out over time.

 # 4 SmartKnitKIDS Seamless Sensitivity Socks 3 Pack (Black/Charcoal/White, Medium)


Price: $27.95 US for three-pack ($9.31 US for one pair of socks)
Fabric make-up: 
75% cotton, 23% nylon & 2% lycra
Fabric thickness:
Thick
Overall comfort:
 Soft. Except for the top rim/edge of the sock which is scratchy. The way the socks are designed the top rim curls on itself covering up this scratchy bit.  They are a tube sock with no defined heel. If you turn them inside out they are the only sock in this review that does not have a thread coming from the end of the seams.
How seamless are they? These truly are seamless socks! There is a tiny bit of gathered fabric were the end-sides of the seem would usually be. There is a slight difference in the knit where the seam usually would be. Several Amazon reviewers said the little bumps on the side still made socks unwearable for their kids. And other reviewers said the sock where the only socks their kids could wear.
Stay up and bunchiness: Does not stay up under rigorous testing.  An Amazon review says “they were too big to stay pulled up the way she likes them”. Because they move around and are thick, uncomfortable socks-bunches can occur (how much this happens will depend on the type of show one wears)
Rain boot test:
These socks moved around in rain boots a lot. The weave feels loose and more stretchy than the other socks and there is very little elastic at the top to keep the sock up.
Durability: They are thick socks that keep up reasonably well over time
Size: I used their size chart but the socks I ordered seemed a bit big for my son. If I was going to order again I would order a size smaller and I think then they might stay up better and might do better in the rainboot test.
Color and style: Only a few colors to pick from and no fancy patterns.
Odor: high-tech fibers wick away moisture ensuring a drier sock & therefore preventing stinky feet.
Melt Down Prevention Meeter: 7/10
A pricey sock which is truly seamless but seems to come with other issues. They have a top rim that is scratchy and they do not stay up in the rainboot test. Also, they seem to fit big. Wyatt in his Best Socks for Sensory Feet Review said that all the socks in this review are wearable but these were his least favorite. Please know, that even though Waytt did not like them many parents swear by these socks as being a lifesaver. It really depends on your kids and what their sock needs are.

Every kid with sensory issues is different.  Figure out what is most important in a sock for your kid and then make your best pick:

Sock priorities o Darn Tough Hiss Micro Crew Light Sock o Jefferies Socks Big Boys Seamless Casual Crew  o Rambutan Kids  Comfort Seam  Bamboo  o  SmartKnitKIDS Seamless Sensitivity Socks 
Fabric mix 74% Nylon 21% Merino Wool 5% Lycra 76% Cotton, 22% Nylon, & 2% Spandex 75% bamboo, 22% polyamide, & 3% spandex 75% cotton, 23% nylon & 2% lycra
_________o ______________ ______________ ______________ _____________
Seamless Almost Not quite Almost Yes
o ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
Compression Offers some compression No No No
oo ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
Loose/snug
and does it bunch?
Snug. No slipping, no bunching, and no blister Loose and bunches Medium & only bunches a bit Loose and can tend to bunch
______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
Hight Crew Crew Sport Kneehigh
o ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
Thick/Thin Medium (Darn Tough also sells cushioned socks if your child likes thicker socks) Thin Medium Thick
______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
Texture Not that Soft  (but does soften up some with a few washes) Soft Very Soft Soft
______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
Cool Yes Yes yes Yes
o ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
Warm Yes Not that warm Yes Yes
o ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
Order prevention Merino wool Naturally Anti-microbial Not made for odor prevention Bamboo mix great for odor prevention High-tech fibers wick preventing stinky feet.
o ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
Stay up Very well Not so much Yes No so much
o ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
Rainboot test Stay put Came off in the boot Stayed up but moved around Slipped own
o ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
Colors/
patterns
Fun Patterns One choice in the seamless variety Few different colors/ patterns Only three colors
o ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
Durability Last forever Last about a year Last about a year Good durability
o ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
$s per pair $9.31 US per $5.53 US per $3.66 US per $13 US per
o ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
Cost per wear Over time might be cheapest Not sure Not sure Not sure
o ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
Sound Sounds okay Sounds okay Sounds okay Scratchy rim that folds over makes a funny sound
o ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
Fit Fit as expected Fit as expected Fit slightly smaller than expected Fit larger than expected
oo ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
Heal Defined heal Defined heal Defined heal Tube sock
o ______________ ______________ ______________ ______________
Easy to put on Require some pulling as they have a snug fit. Easy to put on Easy to put on Super easy & no need to face right way (no heel)
o
Other notes Due to the pattern, there are some threads on the inside. The distinct pattern makes them super easy to match up when sorting laundry. NA One sock got hole first wash but this might be an anomaly Truly seamless and only socks some kids can wear who are super sensitive about seams

 

After you figure out, your child’s sock priorities then pick the socks that best deliver for your child needs. I recommend buying a trial pair. Once you find the sock that works for your kid then I think about buying a week’s worth if you are able… or maybe even two weeks worth!

Other fun design options for Darn Tough Micro Crew Light Sock

Darn Tough Dot and Stripe Micro Crew Light Sock – Kid’s Aqua Medium

Darn Tough Indie Floral Micro Crew Light Sock – Kid’s Sky Large

Darn Tough Emoticons Micro Crew Light Sock – Kid’s Aqua Medium

Darn Tough Skulls Micro Crew Light Sock – Kid’s Black Small

 

 

Other socks Wyatt didn’t review that might work

Silky Toes Kids Bamboo Low Cut Cushioned Socks (Small (7-8), White)

Kids Boys 5 Pack Multi-Color No Show Cotton Socks (6-8T, Rainbow Pack of 5)

Maiwa Cotton Novelty Cats Seamless Girls Kids Socks 5 Pack (2-4 Years/14-16cm)

Child Ankle Socks Seamless Sport Cotton Socks kids Crew Socks Casual Thin Casual Socks for Summer 5 Packs For Boys and Girls Socks/Little Kid/Big Kid

HzCodelo Kids Toddler Big Little Girls Fashion Cotton Crew Seamless Socks -6 Pairs,Multicolor,Shoe size 10.5-13/M

http://classic.avantlink.com/affiliate_app_confirm.php?mode=js&authResponse=5d911e66f62cd08058ced047e605e1bf1e8f127f

Kathleen Rea’s Sprouted Rice Pizza Crust

When my family went on a low carb high-fat diet I tried and tried to make a yummy pizza crust my kids would eat. I tried almond flour, coconut flour, eggs, cauliflower and never got the thumbs up from, my kids and husband. Undaunted I kept on trying with the faith that one day they would be picking the crumbs off their plates. After experimenting for two years, I came up with this sprouted rice pizza crust that is now a much-loved staple in our family.

Why Sprout?
Un-sprouted grains have an anti-growth enzyme in them that can make them hard to digests and less nutrient rich. Sprouting overrides the anti-growth enzyme and the grains’ growth process begins. This deactivation of the anti-growth enzymes leads to a more nutrient-dense grain (more vitamin C, folate, and minerals like iron and protein). As the root gets longer it “eats” up the carbohydrates in the grain resulting in a reduction in carbohydrates. Finally, it is believed that the soaking, sprouting and the rinsing involved might help reduce the pesticide or chemical load in non-organic grains.

Are There Any Risks involved in sprouting grains?
The moist environment involved spouting grains can also facilitate bacteria growth. So there can be a risk involved in eating raw sprouted grains. However, cooking sprouted grains will kill any potential bacteria.

Following these recommendations reduces the risk of this happening.

  • Rinse, rinse and rinse again! (We rinse our sprouting jars three times a day)
  • Use sprouting jars that have mesh lids so that the grains are not touching cloth.
  • Never eat if even just one grain in the jar is moldy (throw the whole jar out)


Kathleen Sprouted Rice Pizza Crust
Sprout Your Rice
Soak rice overnight in a sprouting jar. The drain and rinse 3 times a day for 2 two 4 days.

Sprouted Rice Pizza Crust Recipe
– 3 Eggs (or four egg yokes)

– 1/4 cup water  (you may need to add more water to ensure mixture moves well in your high-speed blender. Add water tablespoon by tablespoon until mixture start to blend well)

– 3 tablespoon oil (ghee or refined organic coconut oil that does not have a strong coconut taste)

– 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

– 1 large parsnip peeled and chopped up

– 2 1/2 heaping cups sprouted rice

– 1 tablespoon chia seeds

– 1/8 teaspoon Himalayan salt

– 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Put liquids in first. Mix in high-performance blender (such as Blendtec) that will evenly blend the rice into the mix. Mix until mixture is smooth and there are no more rice kernels.

Please note, you may need to add more water to ensure mixture moves well in your high-speed blender. This will depend on how sprouted the rice is and how recently you rinsed the rice. Very sprouted rice is super easy to liquify and rice sprouted only a day is harder to liquify and will require more liquid to mix well. Also making sure the parsnip is in small chunks and pulsing the blender can help get things moving.

Place silicone baking sheets on your baking trays. Pour batter onto sheets. Spread into pizza crust shape and desired thinness (thin crust works best). Please note the silicone baking sheets are essential as they allow thin-crusted pizzas to be moved off of the baking trays easily, keeping the crust intact.

Bake in an oven at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes until edges of pizza crust are crispy.

Add sauce and toppings and bake. You no longer need to bake on the silicone sheets as by this point the crust holds together well.

* Some coconut oils have a very coconutty taste to them which can add coconut taste to the crust that my family does not like. We use refined organic coconut oil which we find does NOT have a coconut taste to it. My favorite flavor in the pizza crust is to use Ghee. Butter just makes thing taste so good.

Sprouting jars                                                 Sprouting How To

               

         

Silicone baking sheets                                      Blendtec

Wide mason jar lids to make your own sprouting jars

Last Studio Run-through For Men’s Circle Before We Head To The Theatre

On Friday we performed our final studio run-through before we move over to the theatre. Here is what our small audience that attended has said about Men’s Circle.

Bill harold trip
Laura Bisoc wrote:
I loved watching Kathleen Rea’s new dance theatre production, Men’s Circle. It tells  several stories of emotional vulnerability and unfettered expression with a seamless integration of singing, dancing and spoken dialogue. The dancers are brilliant and combine virtuosity, playfulness and clarity of expression in their fresh and fast paced acts.

A dead patient (most likely killed by the ineptitude of his therapist!) haunts the entire production and is one of the most endearing and mischievous characters I have ever seen. In his defence, the therapist is a wonderful singer and I hope his signature song, Appendicitis, will make it to the top charts. Performed while the therapist is wrestling with his dead patient, Appendicitis is full of emotional ardour and physiological urgency.

The white canopy that represents “our brain waves” is almost a character in itself, and so is the violin case with wings.

Definitely a not to miss event!

group trip

Evadne Macedo wrote:
Men’s Circle by Kathleen Rea is brilliant, surprising and touchingly funny. As a work of theatre, the stories reveal the hurts that lie beneath the surface of smiles and the hidden fears that separate us from ourselves and others.

As a work of dance, we are treated to a showcase of male strength, beauty and vulnerability as the characters struggle to heal and to find authentic connection through movement. In watching these courageous men reveal themselves in their acting, dancing and live music, we are challenged to reach into and beyond ourselves to find belonging and understanding in our own lives despite the risks of pain and rejection.

With the spectre of death ever present, and represented on stage as a character who confronts and soothes each man, Men’s Circle reminds us that we each have the capacity to live with grace and humility, and that we are never alone in this incredible human journey.

smile

MEN’S CIRCLE – dance theatre by Kathleen Rea

DRAMATURGE: Tristan R. Whiston

ORIGINAL SONGS: Ariel Llama

DATES: November 2 to 5, 2017.

LOCATION: Betty Oliphant Theatre, 404 Jarvis street, Toronto.

BOX OFFICE: http://menscircle.eventzilla.net/

FACEBOOK EVENT: https://www.facebook.com/events/150598895531063/

PRODUCED BY: REAson d’etre dance productions   http://www.reasondetre.com/

FILM STILLS from footage by Drew Berry

The Opposite of Rape Culture is Nurturance Culture

A great article by Nora Samaran

Dating Tips for the Feminist Man

The opposite of masculine rape culture is masculine nurturance culture: men* increasing their capacity to nurture, and becoming whole.

The Ghomeshi trial is back in the news, and it brings violent sexual assault back into people’s minds and daily conversations. Of course violence is wrong, even when the court system for handling it is a disaster. That part seems evident. Triggering, but evident.

But there is a bigger picture here. I am struggling to see the full shape emerging in the pencil rubbing, when only parts are visible at a time.

A meme going around says ‘Rape is about violence, not sex. If someone were to hit you with a spade, you wouldn’t call it gardening.’ And this is true. But it is just the surface of the truth. The depths say something more, something about violence.

Violence is nurturance turned backwards.

These things are connected, they must be connected. Violence and nurturance are two sides of the same coin. I…

View original post 6,202 more words

Men’s Circle: making room for male vulnerability might be part of the antidote to rape culture

Kathleen Rea is a registered psychotherapist and the creator of Men’s Circle, a new dance-theatre work that follows the story of a men’s therapy group. She speaks out about the current “Me Too” movement and rape culture in general.

In Canada, 80% of suicides are men. Suicide is the leading cause of death in Canada for men aged 19 to 35. It’s clear that men’s mental health issues are in a state of crisis. And this is in context with what I call a “rape culture” a social concept used to describe settings in which sexual assault is pervasive and normalized due to attitudes about gender and sexuality. I believe the epidemic of men’s mental health concerns cannot be separated from the predominance of rape culture in our society — they are two sides of the same issue.  The rape culture cannot sustain unless there is an ever ready group of men who lack emotional awareness and compassion. This process starts at a very young age when we tell boys to be strong and stop crying because “boys don’t cry”. Many boys and men are themselves abused, but have no cultural context within which to even start talking about what happened. They often feel great shame at the thought of showing weakness. When we teach people not to feel, to supress their natural emotions, they become unable to have conversations that can be healing. They become emotionally empty human shells that feed our mental health hospitals and our morgues. They also may become people capable of supporting and propagating a rape culture in both overt and subtle ways. This emotional suppression has become so ingrained in society, we don’t see it. Men are expected to not show weakness, and that means they remain silent. The Movember Foundation is currently running a men’s mental health and suicide prevention campaign, and one of their main tag lines is telling men to “Unmute”… to start talking. For me, the movement happening right now is just as much about saving men as it is about saving women.

Acclaimed intellectual, feminist and cultural critic, Bell Hooks wrote:

The first act of violence that patriarchy demands of males is not violence toward women. Instead patriarchy demands of all males that they engage in acts of psychic self-mutilation, that they kill off the emotional parts of themselves. If an individual is not successful in emotionally crippling himself, he can count on patriarchal men to enact rituals of power that will assault his self-esteem.

Fellow colleague Mathew Remski, wrote in his article Minimization as a Patriarchal Reflex:

With this patriarch indoctrination comes a subconscious reflex to equate a woman’s (insert “gay man’s” or ‘transperson’s”) voice or ideas with irrationality, anxiousness, or lack of understanding the real issues of life. This is the baseline emotional reality of heteronormative men that the #metoo movement is charging at on the open field. It’s a vicious feedback loop. Dehumanization escalates to outright rape, and minimization – the most socially-acceptable dehumanization tool – neutralizes the call-out of injustice….

The Me Too movement flows against the attempt to neutralize the call for justice. Waves of stories of sexual harassment and abuse  are sweeping social media. They  are a call-out to listen and begin the process of unmuting for all. I posted my Me Too story yesterday. It took five days of building up courage to step past the wall of silence and finally post it. The response has been touching and supportive. Even just one day later men in my life have started conversations with me about how they may have supported the rape culture in which I had these experiences. Others, both men and women, have told me their heart-breaking stories. For me, it feels like a movement towards ending the silence for all of us wherever we are on the spectrum from female to male.

Facebook banner with wings 784 by 295

I am currently working on my new production, Men’s Circle (premiering Nov 2-5, 2017 in Toronto). It is a dance theatre work that tells the story of a men’s therapy group. I was inspired to create Men’s Circle by the many men I have seen in my private practice who have come to see me seeking to connect with their emotional world and heal from trauma.  Through it, I hope to support a culture in which men can be free to feel vulnerable. One of the characters, Joe, starts off completely disengaged from his vulnerability and ends the piece by weeping. Other themes, such as sexual abuse, self-medication through drugs and suicide are explored. This brave cast of men (Allen Kaeja, Bill Coleman, Mateo Galindo Torres, Kousha Nakhaei, Deltin Sejour, Rudi Natterer and Harold Tausch) break down barriers to men’s mental health by showing up and telling the stories of men. I am gathering together 100 male volunteer performers to take part in the production. I want to reach as many men as possible.

IMG_1036My other job is as a mom, raising two boys aged three and seven. In this job I don’t have to undo old habits, but rather have a chance to teach emotional health and respect for others from the start. There is something I always do when my kids cry. No matter how silly their reason for crying (like for instance if a carrot has fallen on the floor), I put my hand on their heart and say, “Cry. Let the tears flow”. One of the most important things in life is to learn to grieve well. I allow my child to take a moment and grieve for that fallen carrot. From what I see, they have a good cry, the wave of crying comes to an end, and they get on with their day. From my experience, it seems they actually get through their emotional wave quicker than if I were to try to stop them from crying. I think this is because they are only grieving the fallen carrot rather then having to grieve both the fallen carrot and the grief of having ones emotional world minimised. In this way I hope to bring up boys who are not frightened of their emotions, who are well practiced in their flow. I hope to raise men who do not shy away from vulnerability.

By telling my own Me Too story, by helping men feel their emotions and by how I bring up my two boys I hope to be part of the humanistic movement that is shaking the foundations on which rape culture exists.

Men’s Circle:
a new dance theatre work by Kathleen Rea that tells the story of men in a therapy group.
DATES AND LOCATION
Betty Oliphant Theatre, 404 Jarvis street, Toronto
Thursday, November 2, 2017 @ 8pm  – Pay-what-you-can preview
Friday November 3, 2017 @ 8pm  – Opening night
Saturday, November 4, 2017 @ 8pm
Sunday November 5 , 2017 @ 3pm

To volunteer to perform or to attend the performance see info at
http://www.reasondetre.com/

Allen with wings banner

Becoming a dancer: How one man overcame his fear

Vivek 3 up
For most of his life Vivek Patel was terrified at the thought of dancing. He couldn’t even dance when he was alone in his living room. In this inspiring interview, Vivek tells us how he eventually overcame his fear and went on to become a dancer and dance filmmaker

Director of Toronto’s Contact Dance International Film Festival, Kathleen Rea, speaks with dancer Vivek Patel, upon the world premiere of his film “Contact Improv from the Inside Out” at the film festival on May 13.

Phone Interview

K: How did you first become involved in Contact Dance Improvisation?

 V: I started doing Contact Improvisation ten years ago. I was thirty-six when I started. I had been afraid to dance all my life, but inside I really wanted to. A friend of mine told me about Contact. He thought that because I do martial arts, it might be right up my alley. He said, “You know, there’s this guy who’s really friendly and really awesome and he’s teaching a workshop. His name’s Allen Kaeja. You should go check him out because even though I know you’re terrified, this guy can help you get over your fear”.  And so I went to the workshop with Allen at Harbourfront, and I was just blown away by it. I’d never seen people move like that.  I’d never seen people interact like that. You know, in the martial arts world, we pretty much punch and kick each other all the time [laughs]… I’d never been around people before being physical without that competitive nature. They were being cooperative and bonding, and it was just so beautiful. It touched my heart. From the very first day I was hooked but also terrified, because I felt like I was too old to get into something like that. But it touched me so deeply I couldn’t stop.

K: What martial art did you do?

V: I did, and still do, Ninjutsu, which is an ancient Japanese martial art. I was one of the first Canadians to study this martial art and I’ve been doing it now for almost thirty years. It’s a beautiful martial art that has a lot of flow. The principles are similar to Contact Improv, in terms of being in connection with the other person… connecting your own center to their center… feeling the connection to the ground and the strength and power the ground gives you. In both, Ninjutsu and Contact Improvisation, rather than trying to use muscle to force things, we try and use connection, flow, momentum, gravity, and relaxation.

K: What do you think your fear of dance was based on?

V: When I was very young, like maybe eight or nine years old, or even younger, I used to love to dance. And then one day, I had a few friends over and we were dancing in my living room. One of the kids started teasing me, saying “you dance like a girl”. Now, if somebody said that to me at this point in my life, I’d consider it an honour. But when I was seven or eight years old, it seemed like they were telling me I wasn’t masculine enough. I was being laughed at and derided for my dancing.

I didn’t have any kind of emotional foundation to deal with that kind of insult at that age.  One of the main reasons I’m so passionate about teaching conscious parenting workshops at this point in my life is that I want to teach parents how to give their kids the tools to deal with things like that so that they’re not so devastated by it. It closed me up for thirty years. I couldn’t even dance when I was alone in my living room. It seems irrational, but that’s how the mind works. My fear of dancing went so deep, it terrorized me. When I went to my first [Contact Improvisation] Jam, I was so nervous I thought I was going to throw up all over the floor. I just sat on the side of the room, watching. I didn’t even have the strength in my legs to get up. You actually came over to me and grabbed my hand and pulled me up onto the dance floor. You were the first person I danced with at a Jam.

K: Wow.

V: I’ve always been grateful to you for making that initiation on that first day. That’s one of the reasons I make an effort to go over to frightened-looking people myself and give them a gentle and welcoming dance as often as I can.

K: What was it about Contact Improvisation that helped you get over your fear?

V: To be honest I don’t think there was anything in particular about contact Improvisation that helped me get over my fear. In fact I found it quite terrifying. It activated a lot of my insecurities. In some ways it still does! I think the thing that really made the difference was that I just decided to keep going no matter what. I knew this was something I wanted in my life and I could feel that there was no shortcut. So no matter how afraid I was I just kept going every week.

At first the fear would outweigh the joy, but I just kept going. Eventually the joy started to catch up to the fear and eventually overtook it. Now ten years later the fear occupies a very small corner of my brain. It is still there but doesn’t make quite the racket that it used to. These days when I leave after a couple of hours of dancing I feel happy, nourished and high.

K: What has changed for you since you started dancing ten years ago?

vivek dancing 1 (1)V: Hmmm… good question. It’s a question with a lot of answers. I think in my own personal self-development, I’ve learned to accept myself more. I’ve learned to accept myself in whatever state I’m in. In Contact, I’m finally starting to learn not to worry about how I look. Not to worry about whether something seems to be working out or not. But just to love the moment regardless of what it is. The more I love the moment, the more I experience and experiment. The more I play and become curious, the more joy I get out of it. This transfers to my life and transfers to my self-image, which is the thing that was damaged when I was a child. Also my physical capacity has increased dramatically as a dancer and as a martial artist. I am able to engage more with my daughter who is very athletic.

K: Some might say you were already embodied as a martial artist. What did Contact Improvisation give you above and beyond, or in addition to, what martial arts gave you? [long, silent pause] Are you still there?

V: Hmmmm… [further pause]………I’m thinking. I’m listening to the answers bubble up…

The first thing that comes to my mind, most obviously, is that Contact Improvisation allowed me to express a deeper feminine side than martial arts usually does. It allowed me to be softer. My martial art is very fluid, but it does have the intent to destroy my opponent [laughs], I’m merging with them with the intent to rip them apart in some way. Contact Improv is decidedly not like that. It provides the opportunity to express my physicality without that violent side. Now, I do love the aggressiveness of martial arts, but being able to explore my softer nature in a dance is also valuable to me.

I’ve been on a personal journey of developing my feminine side for many years. When I was twenty, I saw women as a collection of body parts and not actual human beings with hearts, minds and souls. That’s largely how men are conditioned. I’ve worked very hard to change. Over time I fostered a more feminist approach to politics and philosophy and my relationships with women. Although I was on a personal journey towards exploring the feminine I didn’t connect to my feminine side through movement until I started Contact Improvisation. And then when I brought that learning into my martial art, it just amplified how powerful I was as a martial artist as well….It has even made me be a better lover.

K: How did you have the idea to make a dance film? When did that seed start growing?

V: I was doing martial arts in the park last summer. This guy approached me out of the blue and told me he was a film professor at York University, and he wanted to film me doing martial arts. I said no, because I am camera shy when it comes to my martial art. But I said, “you know, I do this other beautiful movement form that I think you’d be interested in”. I pointed him toward the Contact community. He works with film and he uses chemical processes to create interesting colours and effects. He wanted to include the Contact Improvisation community into his work. And so we organized a day to dance in the park and about ten to twelve people showed up to dance while he was filming. At some point, somebody mentioned that you were looking for submission to the Contact Dance Film Festival. The moment I heard that, the whole idea for a film just popped into my head.

vivek dancing 1 (2)Another reason I love doing Contact Improvisation is that it’s connected me to a community of people that I care about and resonate deeply with. It’s given me a place that I feel is like home for me. So I wanted to honour and showcase that community and the depth that I see in these people who are my friends. I decided to give them a chance to express their authenticity and their relationship to this dance form. And so that’s where I got the idea to create a dance film where the people I dance with every week would write a piece of poetry that expressed how they experience Contact Improvisation and what the dance form does for them. Then they would dance while reciting their poem. This vision popped into my head and I knew I had to make it happen.

I’d never made a film before. I’d done some filming and editing of wedding videos and seminars, but I had never made a film. But I just said to myself that I’m going to throw myself into this and do it.

K: How did you feel when your film was accepted and to discover that your film was scheduled to be on the program with Allen Kaeja’s films?

V: Yeah, for somebody who’s never made a film before I was thrilled and at the same time, I feel like it’s hardly just me that’s been accepted… it’s the community I represented. And I’ll tell you [laughs], when the Film Festival accepted my film, it was a conditional acceptance. The film was twenty-two minutes long and they said that in order for me to have my film in the Festival, I had to cut it in half. When I heard that, I nearly passed out. I couldn’t imagine cutting this work of art that I had created in half. The process of doing so was really, really hard at first. It hurt. But the more I did it and the more I had to change things and let go of things that I had thought were really awesome, the more I started to feel the difference between what was essential and what was extra. What was really necessary to express the message and what was more like the wrapper on the candy. And that process, although it was hard, taught me a lot. Since then I have started to work with that same feeling in my writing and even in my dancing. I’m trying to keep more of what’s essential and less of what’s just the wrapping.

Vivek 12Come out and see the world premiere of Vivek’s film Contact Improv from the Inside Out on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at 9:00 pm at Dovercourt House – 805 Dovercourt Rd Toronto. More info at www.contactdancefilmfest.com

Visit Vivek’s blog at www.meaningfulideas.com

What is Contact Dance Improvisation? Contact dance improvisation is a social dance involving touch, in which momentum between two or more people is used to create and inspire dance movements. The form is similar to martial arts practices such as Aikido that use momentum and rolling point of contact in defensive actions. Contact dancers use these practices, not to defend themselves but to communicate, dance and express. In Contact Dance Improvisation there is no set lead and follow as is common in other social dances. The dancers will sometimes follow and sometime lead and interchange between these roles seamlessly. With no pre-set roles, deep “listening” and responding in the moment, to one’s partner, is central. Techniques include rolling point of contact, balancing over a partner’s centre of gravity, following momentum, and “listening” with one’s skin surface. Contact dance improvisation is accessible to people with no previous dance training and to people with physical disabilities. It is typically practiced in a jam situation in which a group of people gather to improvise together. These jams occur around the world and include people of all ages and training levels.

2015 Contact Dance International Film Festival The Contact Dance International Film Festival returns to Toronto, May 13 to 15, 2015 for its second season with a program of 27 films from 12 countries. This festival, produced by REAson d’etre dance productions, celebrates films featuring momentum-based dance created by some of the top creators and dancers in the field of Contact Dance Improvisation. Three different screening programs will be presented alongside dance, classes, workshops, jams and parties! The festival is a unique opportunity for both film and dance lovers to experience the joy, chaos and intimacy of human connection through physical movement. From the expansive peaks of British Columbia, to the streets of Kiev, to the Festival Interplay in Torino Italy, prepare to be moved as dancers fly and bodies collide with force, grace and tenderness. More Info at www.contactdancefilmfest.com

Want to learn Contact Dance Improvisation?
Fundamental Skill Contact Improvisation Workshop
Teacher: Kathleen Rea
Date: Wed, May, 13, 10:00am – 11:30am
Location: 805 Dovercourt Road  (third Floor)
Description: In this workshop, that is part of the part of the Contact Dance International Film Festival, Kathleen Rea will teach fundamental skills such as balancing weight over centre of gravity, sloughing and following momentum. This workshop is specially designed to be welcoming to beginners. Beginners and all levels are welcome
Cost: $15
Registration Information: www.contactdancefilmfest.com

Photography credits
Film Still Captures
Dancers: Morgen Ross, Vivek Patel, Kim Hunter, Michael Nickson, Olivia Proudfoot, Matilda Carlsson, Puja Jones and Micheal Haltrecht

Photo
Photographer: Jim Bush
Dancers: Vivek Patel and Phil Wackerfuss

Fast Lane Action Wheels Fire Truck Review and Live Action Video

My Five year old received a Fast Lane Action Wheels Fire Truck from Santa this Christmas and the whole family had fun making a live action video (…except for Grandma who was horrified that we started a fire in our back yard).

Live Action Video
See Wyatt’s new Fast Lane Action Wheels Fire Truck come to life and put out a real fire. See the crook who started the fire get caught in a dramatic chase scene.

Review of the Fast Lane Action Wheels Fire Truck:

The controls are easy to learn for a five year old. After a day of practice Wyatt was able to drive it around our kitchen island. The sound of the sirens and ladder is reasonably tolerable for the adults. It seems fairly sturdy thus far after three days of rough play. One surprise was that the remote is attached to the back of the truck by a cord that is about four feet long. This was unexpected and at first I wondered how this would work out. I quickly realised it was a non-issue because during play Wyatt is never more than two feet away from his truck. Wyatt was disappointed that the truck did not come with firefighter figures. This disappointment did not last long because he very quickly realised that his firefighter PLAYMOBIL(R) figures were the perfect size and fit in the bucket.

At $59.99 the toy is not cheap but also not as expensive as other RC fire trucks on the market that are a similar size and do similar things. It is not a scale model and would probably not be of interest to an adult RC hobbyist.

The one change I would make to the truck would be to make a larger water tank. The tank is so small that it only sprays continuously for about one minute before needing to be refilled. The good news is Wyatt can easily refill it himself. To make the film I jury rigged a plastic bag of water to the back of the truck so that he would have an abundant supply of water to put out the fire.

Please note if you use this toy to put out a real fire, adult supervision, a review of safety protocol and a bucket of water is required. Even with these precautions there is an inherent risk in lighting any fire.

Please also note that the PLAYMOBIL(R) figures and LEGO(R) police car seen in the video do not come with the Fast Lane Action Wheels Fire Truck.