The Med’Cine all properties of a dance

Olivia Caitlin Davies. | Photo by Dayna Szyndrowski

Med’Cine is a performance that reaches out to the soul of the viewer. O.Dela Arts, featuring Olivia C. Davies, has brought together two current feature dance pieces Gateways and Rematriate for a Nov. 17 performance at the Presentation House Theatre (PHT).

For the audience, Med’Cine is a description that represents the healing that can be obtained through the arts,” says Davies, a professional, contemporary Indigenous choreographer and dancer.

Indigenous connections

Med’Cine is the working title for the shared bill of dances that include the ensemble work, Gateways, and the solo piece, Rematriate. Both works look at an Indigenous perspective through contemporary dance. With Rematriate, the artist was partially inspired by a group of women from the Rematriate Collective, whose mission is to combat stereotypes by portraying Indigenous women with strength and diversity. Using projected images, phonics and movement, Davies relates this vision statement through connections and disconnections to the land plus distinctions between reality and the surreal.

Gateways brings together Indigenous New Zealand and Canadian dance artists to relate the connections and separations created in people’s bodies and environments. Davies was inspired to create the piece after meeting New Zealanders Louise Potiki-Bryant and Jasmin Canuel in 2016, at the Kaha:Wi Dance Theatre in Ontario.

Another portion of the piece was created with Vancouver-based dancers, Kelly McInnes and Rianne Svelnis. Later, cultural advisor Gloria May Eshkibok (Anishnaabe) joined the process along with Natasha Kanapé Fontaine (Innu) and Lara Kramer (Oji-Cree). With so many contributors, the performance embodies a multilateral perspective artistically rendered through Davies’ choreography.

Med’Cine’s House

Potiki-Bryant and Jasmin Canuel | Photo by Jessica Valoise

Both dance pieces were developed through a residency that Davies’ took up at PHT. Yet, the theatre had its first real partnership and dance residency with Raven Spirit Dance, which produced Salmon Girl,” says Kim Selody, PHT’s Artistic Director.

This connection further precipitated the relationship with Davies. While working on and performing the upcoming Med’Cine, she also has a new piece on the horizon.

“Presentation House Theatre has been such great proponents and supporters of Indigenous arts. I can’t say enough about the space. It is warm and inviting and the staff are supportive, caring and kind,” says Davies.

PHT’s mandate required a place where artists could come and practice their craft. However, when Selody came onboard, over six years ago, he wanted to broaden and refine the theatre’s mandate. This included incorporating interdisciplinary works such as dance and music as well as creating and connecting the North Shore community with a diversity of cultures evident in and around the Lower Mainland.

“Our role is to build bridges between a lot of different areas. It’s about bringing down barriers,” says Selody.

According to Selody, sometimes proponents of the theatre see the new PHT as less than traditional. Still, he establishes that PHT has come full circle to embody former executive director Anne MacDonald’s original vision of the space as an inclusive arts centre.

“All our programming is accessible both physically and with work that is at the beginning of a conversation. So even if you if you haven’t gone to a lot of dance you can see the piece and get something out of it,” says Selody.

Med’Cine as conversation

With Gateways and Rematriate, both pieces are based on dialogues between the self and others. Davies believes that it is important for performance to form a relationship with the eyes and bodies of those who are on the other side of the stage.

“The witness observer can walk away with a fresh perspective; a new idea that they are taking away from that conversation,” she says.

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