Mama, do we die when we sleep? | Rachel Meyer
As we age and change throughout our lives, we undergo an iterative process of defining and redefining our reality. It is a matter of survival, or comfort, or artistry. We seldom notice that any act of definition, however poetic, relies on establishing limitations. The path narrows as we go; our world shrinks, becomes more and more banal. There are less and less surprises.
Inspired by my two year old daughter’s question: “Do we die when we sleep?”, this work explores the emotion of wonder. Imagination and dream-space infiltrate responsibility and conformity, as some necessary invitation to possibility.
Special thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts, the Scotiabank Dance Centre, the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, the Moberly Arts and Cultural Centre, Left of Main, The Dance Deck, and the Dancing on the Edge Festival for their support in this project. Thank you also to Brandon Lee Alley, Bynh Ho, and Olivia Shaffer for their initial contribution in the research of this work.
Choreography: Rachel Meyer in collaboration with the artists
Dance: Stéphanie Cyr, Josh Martin, Rachel Meyer, Calder White
Creative Assistant and Rehearsal Director: Heather Myers
Composer: James Maxwell
Music: Frederic Chopin, Berceuse op 57, D-flat Major
Costume Design: Kate Burrows
Lighting Design: James Proudfoot
Set Design: Rachel Meyer
Set Construction and sound technician: Sylvain Senez
Rachel Meyer trained with St. Louis Ballet, the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, and the Northwest Dance Project. She received her BFA at the University of Utah and was awarded a Princess Grace Award in 2010. Rachel has been a member of the Utah Regional Ballet, Dominic Walsh Dance Theatre, the Michael Clark Company, and Ballet BC. As an independent choreographer, she has self-presented two full length works, Quartet (March 2017) and Transverse Orientation (July 2018). She was commissioned to create a new work for Ballet Edmonton. my shadows premiered in Edmonton in March 2019. In July of 2019, Transverse Orientation was remounted as part of the Dancing on the Edge Festival in Vancouver, and her short film Excerpts of a Work in Progress was presented at the 2020 Dancing on the Edge Festival. Rachel is currently a Resident Artist at Left of Main, a creative hub for the live arts community in Vancouver.
Stéphanie Cyr is an independent dance artist, pro amateur flower smeller and enthusiastic playlist maker. They are a graduate of the Arts Umbrella Dance Graduate Program/VCC(2013), under the direction of Artemis Gordon. Steph has had the pleasure of working nationally and internationally with imPerfect Dancers Company, Andrea Peña & Artists, Inverso Productions, TWObigsteps collective, Action at a Distance, Rachel Meyer, David Harvey, Justine A. Chambers, Les Productions Figlio, The Public Swoon, Ne.Sans Opera and Dance, and Wen Wei Dance, among others. They’ve presented their own work at Sawdust Collector, the Contemporary Art Gallery (Vancouver), Tremors Festival at Rumble Theatre, Shooting Gallery Performance Series #9, Café Concert #38, rEvolver Festival and in peoples’ homes. They are a queer, white setter on unceded and stolen Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) territory.
Originally from Alberta, Josh Martin is dance maker/performer living and working in Vancouver, on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territories of the Coast Salish Peoples. He is inspired by the merging of urban and contemporary forms. As an interpreter and collaborator, he has worked with many companies and choreographers, including Justine A. Chambers, Dana Gingras, Wen Wei Wang, Tiffany Tregarthen and David Raymond (Out Innerspace), Amber Funk Barton, Serge Bennathan, Vanessa Goodman, Karen Jamieson, Helen Walkley, Rachel Meyer, and as a past company member of Le Groupe Dance Lab in Ottawa under the direction of Peter Boneham. In his own choreographic practice, Josh’s work has toured and been celebrated in Canada and abroad. He also teaches and is commissioned to make work in educational and professional contexts. For over 10 years, Josh has been an Artistic Co-Director of Company 605, a Vancouver-based arts organization creating and producing new works through a collaborative process, regularly touring its expanding repertoire nationally and internationally.www.company605.ca
Calder White is a freelance dance artist, choreographer, and floorwork teacher based in Vancouver, BC. He is an alumnus of Toronto’s Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre and holds a BFA in Dance from the Ohio State University (2018). He has originated roles in work by Shay Kuebler (Shay Kuebler/Radical System Art), Wen Wei Wang (Wen Wei Dance), Sylvie Bouchard (BouchardDanse), Colin Connor (José Limón Dance Foundation), Santee Smith (Kaha:wi Dance Theatre), and Alexander Whitley (Alexander Whitley Dance Company). Calder’s choreographic interests lay in oversharing, recalling memory, and the effects of video documentation on self-image. His work has been shared with audiences across Canada and the US, his most recent commission being for The School Of Dance (Ottawa) in November 2020. Calder is currently a company member with Shay Kuebler/Radical System Art, Peggy Baker Dance Projects, and Joshua Beamish/MOVEthecompany.
Heather Myers (she/her) is a mother and dance artist currently living on Central Coast Salish Territory. Heather danced with Alberta Ballet, Boston Ballet, and Netherlands Dance Theatre, and now works as an independent interpreter, rehearsal director, instructor, maker, and production assistant. Most interested in creative process, context, and the social relevance of artistic intelligence, Heather’s collaborations have included those with Korzo Theater, Taipei National University of the Arts, Springboard Danse Montreal, Ballet BC, Rachel Meyer, and Vancouver’s Performance Research Project.
James Maxwell is a composer of concert music and music for contemporary dance, theatre, film, and media, and is Artistic Co-Director of Restless Productions. Recent works include perpetua, for percussionist Katie Rife, The Razor Hiss of a Whisper, for Turning Point Ensemble and Couloir, and John, by choreographer Helen Walkley. Upcoming and in-progress works include a new production with Fight With a Stick Performance, a new work for Tempest Flute Choir, and a new interdisciplinary performance project with Restless Productions.
Kate Burrows has worked extensively designing and building costumes for dance in Canada for 25 years. She is the head of wardrobe at Ballet BC and has designed and created for Ballet BC’s commissioned choreographers along with former Artistic Director Emily Molnar. She has worked with many other dance companies and artists in Vancouver and across the country along with designers, dancers, and choreographers from around the world. This is her first collaboration with Rachel Meyer.
Specialising in the realm of dance lighting, James has contributed designs for dance works to many companies, including: Lola Dance, Company 605, Co. Erasga, Wen Wei Dance, Joe Ink, EDAM, The Contingency Plan, battery opera, Kinesis Dance, Ballet BC, Move The Company, Restless Productions, Holy Body Tattoo, Dumb Instrument, MACHiNE NOiSY, Anatomica, Tara Cheyenne Performance, Les Productions Figlio, Karen Jamieson, Trial & Eros, Rachel Meyer, Action at a Distance, Out Innerspace, Helen Walkley, Ballet Jazz Montréal, Justine A. Chambers, and plastic orchid factory.
Sylvain Senez has been active on the professional Canadian dance scene for over 40 years. He danced as a soloist with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Judith Marcuse Dance Company, Coleman Lemieux Company and a principal artist at Ballet BC. Sylvain also appeared in The Strange Adventure of Myself, a full-length solo created for him by Serge Bennathan. From 1991 to 2016 he has worked for Ballet British Columbia as a dancer, Ballet Master and Rehearsal Director where he has had the privilege of working and assisting for the remounts and creations of many internationally renowned choreographers. He was the stager for remounting Medhi Walerski’s ballets, assisting him for creations, as well as playing the role of Father Capulet in his Romeo and Juliet creation for Ballet BC. He has choreographed for the Ballet BC choreographic workshop, Dancing on the Edge and the Vancouver Opera. He is an accomplished ballet teacher, a videographer, and a photographer specializing in dance and portraiture. He has carried his artistic interest with film and stage design to the productions of Alexis Fletcher’s Altar’d and light in the rafters, and Rachel Meyer’s Quartet and Transverse Orientation. He and his wife Alexis Fletcher are the Artistic Directors of Casa Om Presents. This platform produces The Dance Screen, a dance art film presentation, and The Dance Deck, an annual multi-disciplinary performance series that is presented in their backyard.