The Guelph Shebang – Post by Nadine Saxton

Janet Morton hanging domestic lamps throughout the River Run Centre.  Illuminating some of the hidden parts of the building and inviting the public into a more private, intimate experience as they explore.

Janet Morton hanging domestic lamps throughout the River Run Centre. Illuminating some of the hidden parts of the building and inviting the public into a more private, intimate experience as they explore.

I was delighted to join Andrea Monday morning for an early drive to Guelph with other Shebang members Gabriel Cropley, and Elysha Poirier. I haven’t had a opportunity to share the Shebang experience as an Artistic Translator since the opening of Kingston’s Tett Centre last winter and was looking forward to sharing what was happening in Guelph.

The resident Guelph Shebang Artists, are preparing for their production as part of Culture Days at the River Run Centre, which runs from 3pm-5pm this Saturday, September 26th.  

What a warm welcome we received and what a beautiful space. I lugged armfuls of equipment into the Co-operator’s Hall – and was awed by the size of the room.  After the “Meet and Greet” of the group, which included dancers Megan O’Donnell and Ishra Blanco, musicians Amadeo Ventura and Bry Webb, video artist Jenn E. Norton, writer Claire Tacon, and Erin Sproule, a documentary filmmaker here to record the process of the event, Andrea quietly explained how the week would proceed. 

Andrea offered a guided warm-up where they revisited experiences of past workshops to anchor the Shebang experience allowing the artists to take this practice of embodied moving, knowing and, learning into their lives after the Shebang.

This small intimate group of artists have been working together for several years, and the culmination of their collaborations is this week. The pathways of working with each other have been laid down in the process workshops they have participated in, Due to schedules and other commitments, this morning was to be the only time the artists were all going to be together until the Dress Rehearsal Friday. It was important for the company to connect as a group once more.

Installation by Claire Tacon: pick a machine. in one sentence, respond in any way to the advice you see on the index card. post your writing on the wall.

Installation by Claire Tacon: pick a machine. in one sentence, respond in any way to the advice you see on the index card. post your writing on the wall.

Explorations that awaken sensory organs, eyes, ears, nasal passages, tongue and throat were explored, as well as kinesthetic attuning to one another and the environment through which they were moving. Andrea’s prosodic voice invited a tuning in to rhythms and sounds within the self and in the surroundings. Hearing breath within and hearing the breath of others around, the group moved observing gravity and observing space through their sensations, and in so doing re-connecting with one another. There is a willingness to participate and accept others where they are, as they are. 

This process of embodied connection to self, and meeting and blending with other was evident in the collaborative works.  Jenn’s work Arm’s Reach was scored by Bry. There is a mesmerizing quality that is translated to the viewer reclining in beanbag chairs, I was transported to an altered state.

Dancers from Immigrant Services Guelph-Wellington.

Dancers from Immigrant Services Guelph-Wellington.

Although not there for rehearsal, Amadeo was present in Ishra’s fluid undulating sensual spiraling movement. Her interpretation of his music has a cellular consciousness to it and this must arise from their moving connections with one another. There is a mature sensitivity and authenticity to this collaboration.

There is awareness and wisdom of experience in these collaborations. Younger emerging artists working with seasoned professionals make for a respectful, thoughtful engaging program. There was no ego in the place, only appreciation for the individual artist and the curiosity of how the works speak to one another. This group processing through somatic experiences has influenced the way they work and interact. I am looking forward to following this exciting process through Saturday and beyond! 

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