Mocean Dance’s new Versions

Mocean joins Toronto choreographer Heidi Strauss to explore relationships and movement with These Versions of Us.

click to enlarge Versions was built from, among other things, 
conversation and improvisation. - MICHELLE DOUCETTE
Versions was built from, among other things, 
conversation and improvisation.

These Versions of Us
April 26-28, 8pm
Sir James Dunn Theatre,  6101 University Avenue

For the final production of its season, Mocean Dance is turning dance inside out. From April 26-28, the company will present These Versions of Us, a new work by Toronto-based choreographer Heidi Strauss that forwent fixed steps and was instead built collaboratively with quintet of dancers.

Mocean's artistic directors Suzanne Chui and Sara Coffin say they were drawn to Strauss' intuitive approach to choreography, and are eager to present her work to Halifax audiences for the first time.

"With Heidi in particular, we were interested in how she has an approach to the body and moving with a certain intention," says Coffin. "Sometimes dance can be quite forceful and muscular, but the way she drives—you could say it's like from the inside out."

Describing the process of building the piece, Strauss says that the group used both improvisation and conversation to explore their relationships with one another. This process parallels the themes she hopes to imbue in the dance—rethinking the limits of human movement and relationships.

"There are so many ways we exist in the world, and I really, fundamentally believe that dance has the capacity in many different ways to be communicating that," says Strauss. "We sometimes think of dance as just like one thing—a body moving in space—but that body is connected to so many bits of personal history and collective history, relationships to environment and to the present."

Chui and Coffin are both dancing the piece, alongside Mocean newcomer Julie Robert and guests Naishi Wang and Lukas Malkowski. Chui says that this collaborative process allowed her to explore her identity both within and outside of dance—something that she hopes audiences will feel as well.

"It's been interesting to feel that my life is more connected to the piece," says Chui. "Seeing how other people see me is really interesting, and it's starting to make me think about how I see myself. That's very refreshing."

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