Friday, May 1, 2015

New Website, New Blog!

We've been working hard on a new website and are excited to launch it to the world. Check out the new and the new blog! This blog will no longer be updated and all posts have been transferred to the new site. See you there. :)

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

From our adult class: 'Dance Show-Related Issues, and How to Fix Them'

Introducing guest blogger, Monday night adult dance class participant, and beautiful visually-impaired dancer in and out of her wheelchair, Faith Girvan!

For this week's blog post we're linking you to Faith's recent blog post on the awesome 'Living Blind Blog'. Faith described her personal process of dancing with a visual impairment, and how support and communication are key in preparing for a performance.

Come see Faith and the Monday, and Wednesday, night adult dance classes perform alongside the company on May 8th and 9th at the Great Canadian Theatre Company.
Buy tickets here!!

Photo credit: Chrystia Chudczak. Faith is the dancer on the right.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Dancer Health – Part 2: The Warm-Up

Welcome to Part 2 of our blog post on building a warm-up for dancers of all abilities! Below is the continuation of some tips and suggestions to help create a well-rounded warm-up before dancing. Check out 'Dancer Health - Part 1: The Warm-Up' to see how it all goes together - .

Pumping Heart
 -   Take a deep breath in with your arms at your sides. Exhaling, raise your arms high. Inhale with arms up, exhaling, lowering your arms back to your sides. Try also gently squeezing your lower abdomen in and up throughout. Repeat 5-10 times.
  -   Punching up, forwards, to your sides, and down towards your knees. 10x in each direction.

Some things to include if you are a stand-up dancer:
-       Jumping jacks raise the heart rate easily and quickly.
-       Running! Extensions of running can work as well; include jogging, lifting the knees, running fast, lifting the arms.
-       Sun Salutations (from Hatha or Ashtanga yoga). Breathe in and out through the nose if possible  (ujayi breath)!

Some things to include if you use a wheelchair:
-       4 walls: Roll forwards on an inhale, exhaling wheel back and turn to the wall to your right. Repeat to face wall behind you, to the left, and front again. Repeat starting left side.
-       Wheel through space without stopping for at least 3 minutes, or play tag with a friend. Breathing in and out through the nose will raise your heart rate even more.

Stay tuned for the last piece, 'Part 3: The Warm-Up'…

Amelia is a professional contemporary dance artist in the Ottawa area. Amelia joined the Propeller Dance company in 2012, and now also teaches youth of all abilities for Propeller, and is Propeller’s social media gal. She also dances for Tara Luz Danse, Platypus Theatre, and Dorsale Danse, as well as other notable choreographers and organizations. Amelia is also a certified Ashtanga Yoga instructor and Yoga Therapist.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Propeller's Experience at the GCTC

The initial thrill of being invited to be the GCTC dance-company-in-residence has only intensified over the past few weeks as Propeller has prepared for its debut performance in the Irving Greenberg Theatre Centre.  

GCTC’s home is an exciting theatre space, with a superb cafe, varied art exhibits, an impressive mainstage, and a flexible studio. For those of us in wheelchairs, one feature in this vibrant, beautiful temple stood out on our first visit – the super accessible and clean washrooms.

During our first week at the theatre, Eric Coates, the artistic director, came to the studio and welcomed us.  Equally impressive, over the next few days, the entire staff took the time to come up to meet us.  I may not remember each one of their names, but I am sure none of us will forget the welcoming smiles, kind words, handshakes and hugs. 

Creating in the black box studio is intense. The studio helps us get deep into our work; it is like being in a separate world. Sometimes we need to leave the intensity of creating in that world and step out into the light of the Lorraine Fritzi Yale Art Gallery. It is inspiring to come out from the studio to be bathed in warm light and stimulated by art. We always return to our work feeling refreshed, ready to create.

We feel we have begun to make real friends at the GCTC.  This is because we were welcomed with respect, openness, and good will, all qualities we cherish and try to give back in all we do. As usual, I want to wow our audience, but this time there’s an additional hope – that everyone at GCTC who has welcomed us without reservation will be as thrilled with having us as we are about being here. 

Thank you!!

Liz Winkelaar has been a dancer in the Propeller Dance performing company since 2007. She has taught outreach workshops for Propeller, assisted with Propeller's children's program, and pioneered the Company's seniors' program. Having also studied disability art and culture at Carleton University, Liz believes that art can change perception, and is happy to be a part of a dance company that embodies her philosophy.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

FUSE and The Art of Collaboration

Collaboration, connection, togetherness… This is so much of what we are building at Propeller Dance while making great art (hopefully! You be the judge).

Humans are social creatures; we all desire warmth, physical touch, intimacy, and that most primal of desires, love - to be loved and to love. More need than desire, shared by each and every one of us, without which we shrivel. In these cold and dark winter months, our most recent show FUSE, and specifically our company piece I Need You? takes you on a journey of love, togetherness, and connection. Your presence, whether remotely or in flesh at a live show, means that you are collaborating with us, you are together with us, you are connected, you are plugged in and turned on.

Propeller is a community of movers, shaking and rolling in our Canadian contemporary dance diaspora, our newest works highlight the nature of collaboration and the interdependence that we all share. We have a strong legacy of collaboration, and while this is not unique to the artistic process, or to the lived human experience, the uniqueness we share comes from the depth of the collaborative creative experience in our newest trio of works-in-progress — I write ‘in-progress’, as for me a dance work is rarely, if ever finished, and if kept in the repertoire, is always an evolving entity.

These new dance works are true collaborations between all of the artists involved. I am proud to shout this from the rooftops – collaborating isn’t easy! It takes more time, it takes more trust; it takes a great leap of faith into the unknown. It is also the choice of Co-Artistic Directors to showcase this aspect of our working model. In the piece I Need You? the dancers have shared their essence through their movement and ideas, and composer and musician Jesse Stewart shares his incredible creative spirit and energy through his soundscapes in this true collaboration of sound and movement.  

Hope to see you at the shows – February 12th and 13th at the Great Canadian Theatre Company in Ottawa.

Renata Soutter is co-founder and co-artistic director of Propeller Dance. For well over a decade she has dedicated her professional career to dance, and specifically to dance innovation through creation, performance, community outreach and education. With a strong belief in the power of movement for all, she contributes to a growing inclusive open-hearted contemporary dance community.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Dancer Health – Part 1: The Warm-Up

Preparing for anything in life is important, but especially so for dancers.

We need to train to be healthy, fit, strong, and flexible in order to perform any movement. We also need to express without words, so we need to train to have an open, clear mind, and to access our emotions and spirit on demand.

In order to access this in class, rehearsal, and in performance, a dancer needs to prepare a good warm-up to be ready to do anything! Below are some helpful tips on how to build a well-rounded warm-up.

Calm the Mind
  • See if you can breathe in and feel the breath expand your chest and belly, then feel the breath deflate your belly and chest. Repeat 10x.
  • Think of a relaxing place that makes you feel good - forest, the beach, etc.
  • Repeat a helpful phrase. For example, ‘I am here, I am calm, I am ready to dance.’

Mobilize and Hydrate the Joints
  • In a comfy position (chair or lying down), gently circle all your joints; head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, hips, knees, ankles, and toes.
  • For 5 minutes (set a timer!), sit comfortably, close your eyes and imagine you are being carried by the ocean. Make gentle waves with your spine: forward, back, side to side, up, and down. Try to keep moving for the whole 5 minutes!

Needing more Warm-Up tips? Stay tuned for DANCER HEALTH – Part 2…

Amelia is a professional contemporary dance artist in the Ottawa area. Amelia joined the Propeller Dance company in 2012, and now also teaches youth of all abilities for Propeller, and is Propeller’s social media gal. She also dances for Tara Luz Danse, Platypus Theatre, and Dorsale Danse, as well as other notable choreographers and organizations. Amelia is also a certified Ashtanga Yoga instructor and Yoga Therapist.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Travelling with Propeller

Moni about to go on her first train ride
By Linda Hoffman

On the road with the Propeller Dance Company has been an honour as well as an immense learning experience. Three words reflect the most recent trip to the inner-city of Toronto in a nutshell – the unexpected, the community, and the professionalism.

Unexpected: “Do we walk or wait?” This was the question as Renata, Moni, and Mom stood on the corner of Front and Bay streets waiting for the prescheduled Wheel Trans bus! As the minutes ticked by into over an hour, we took the plunge. Visually impaired Mom hung on to Renata and the power wheelchair tagged along behind the rolling suitcases. What a wonderful sight to see our stage manager/support worker Sion, and Bob - Dad to one of the dancers - waving at us from down the street. They had come to meet us and take our luggage!

Next on the list of unexpected was the wheelchair inaccessible “accessible room!” Again, the Propeller family came to the rescue, hauling out the furniture of the newly assigned room so the chair could gain some access. What a team!

Community: This word is used a lot, but during Propeller’s road trip to Toronto I constantly saw it in action. As one of our team members was hospitalized just prior to the road trip the community of Propeller came to the forefront. Roles were changed, people stood up to the challenge, and the impossible was accomplished. This truly is a group that pulls together as a cohesive family.

Professionalism: The Tangled Arts Festival’s Kidsfest was the event to which Propeller had been invited as one of three selected artists April 9th and 10th. In the heart of Toronto’s downtown, bus loads of kids were brought to the newly built and totally accessible Daniel Spectrum Cultural Centre’s theatre. Propeller performed magnificently. You would never know looking at the ease and beauty of the dancing on stage, the kind of craziness that went on beforehand. That is in essence being a professional.

Linda Hoffman is the mother of Propeller Dance's Performing Group member, Moni Hoffman, and accompanied the troupe on their trip earlier this month to the Tangled Arts Festival's Kids Fest in Toronto.