Archive for November, 2010

PechaKucha Night #6

Photo Credit: EventBrite

I went to my first PechaKucha Night this week: PechaKucha Night Calgary #6: One. It was presented by CADA in the John Dutton Theatre at the Library. Speakers included Wil Knoll, Brooklyn Fink, Bee Kingdom Glassblowing Collective, Patrick Finn, and Cory Mack.

As I mentioned I haven’t been to a PechaKucha Night before, so I didn’t have a reference for that. The talk was held in the library in conjunction with One Book One Calgary. Aritha van Herk, who wrote Mavericks, which is the book they chose for One Book One Calgary, was also one of the speakers. Because it was in the library, the talk was free, which they normally aren’t in Calgary.

I liked the talks overall. I don’t really like the theme — one of the ideas with the theme was apparently that it should be open, but it wasn’t very unifying. That’s not such a big deal necessarily, but I kind of think it’s nice if you have a theme to let the talks inform one another in the different ways they address the theme and I didn’t find that was normally the case. Some of the talks were very tightly related thematically but not all. In some cases, the theme became a mantra. Sometimes it worked and it meant something and sometimes not. Sometimes the rhythm of the repeated “one”s made it very difficult to understand the talk itself. For Cory Mack, she was basically reciting a poem, and the rhythm of “one” repeated so many times worked in harmony with that and lead you through the poem, helping you to hear it. For Aritha Herk’s talk, I felt that repeating “one” so often took me out of the talk and made it harder to get anything out of it. It actually impeded how able I was to follow her words. Since it was sort of focusing on men doing laundry as part of their Maverickness in Alberta, I thought it would have stood better without the repetition and if I could focus on the idea of men doing laundry and how that relates to the “Maverick” idea and how it relates to life in Alberta at the time she was talking about. I haven’t read Mavericks. I saw the show at the Glenbow one afternoon though … but when I heard that was the One Book One Calgary I was turned off. I should love Alberta more, but I sort of don’t like the idea of thinking of ourselves as “mavericks” … it seems to glorify ourselves.  Same with thinking of ourselves as “incorrigible”. Not an informed opinion at all on my part, but there you go.

On a more positive note, I really enjoyed three of the talks. I thought Brooklyn Fink’s talk about transsexualism was very interesting and informative and made me want to research it more, because I find the different ways hormones and genes and other factors effect our brain chemistry very interesting. I was watching a Gabor Mate talk on youtube about addiction and that was much less about genes and in-utero factors than Brooklyn’s talk, but I found them similar because they were both different than how we normally talk about these issues.

Another one that was really interesting was Patrick Finn’s talk on his courses at the UofC on Love. The course sounded very interesting and a great approach to student engagement at the university. I also think it’s interesting that students have to attend arts events and participate in culture in Calgary. Wondering if I could audit the courses … I was also interested because I remember the Student Engagement Survey that was the catalyst for the creation of these courses and some discussion around it while I was working and in Arts Co-op at UBC, so seeing how other universities responded was interesting on that level.

Finally I did like Wil Knoll’s talk on Hackerspaces in general (with reference to Protospace in particular) — great coverage of hacking, and of the rules of making such … I guess inherently anarchic collections of people work. My husband is a mechanical engineer and I’ve roped him in to helping me with art projects before* and he and his best friend are starting to get into building robots and just bought an Arduino and I think a social space like Protospace would be a great resource for us. I get him out to an Open House or a Tuesday yet! So basically the point of that was hackerspaces are exciting because they offer endless possibilities of making insane things.

*I got him to make it so I could control an air conditioner and a heater with an Arduino (reading a thermister) and a laptop grabbing temperatures from an RSS feed.

Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet

On Friday October 25 I was lucky enough to go to a performance by Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet at Theatre Junction Grande. It was part of the Fluid Movement Arts Festival and I co-curated one of the other events, Spark, so I got some comp tickets. The show was absolutely amazing! I don’t see a lot of contemporary dance, so one of the great things about being involved in the Fluid Fest was getting exposure to an artform I don’t see much of. Now that I’ve seen Cedar Lake, I’ll have to see more dance events in Calgary. Especially ones showing work by such cutting edge choreographers.

The show had three pieces / acts:  Sunday Again choreographed by Jo Stromgren, Ten Duets on a Theme of Rescue choreographed by Crystal Pite, and Frame of View choreographed by Didy Veldman.

Photo Credit (Sunday, Again): dancingperfectlyfree.com

From the chats I’ve had with people since seeing the works, it seems like most people were drawn to Crystal Pite’s work, which was really emotionally moving. However, I think my favourite piece was  Stromgren’s Sunday Again. It was kind of opaque in what was going on, and there seemed to be many layers of complicated narrative that were partially made clear. I like that kind of thing, so I was drawn to the puzzle and the possibility inherent in the lack of explicitness in the scope of what Stromgren was trying to communicate. I think that was really intentional; it was kind of like Last Year At Marienbad for me, and that’s my favourite film. The dancing was gorgeous and the set and costumes were varied but very reduced, which allowed for some of the fluidity in exactly what may have been happening.

The music was all Bach, and there was a great variety of pieces used. The choreography was very contemporary it seemed to me, so that was both a nice contrast and worked well together because the choreography was very aristocratic and had varying serious and very playful parts, and it explored the odd, constructed reality of a tennis club that was infused with Bach. Not that they listed to Bach, it was just like the medium of their life.

The other pieces were very striking too. All in all an amazing evening, especially as I got to catch the Artist Talk with Benoit-Swan Pouffer!

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