Sights and Sounds of “The Perfect Word”

We’re thrilled that Debashis Sinha is joining Peggy Baker Dance Projects again for “The Perfect Word”, part of the in/future festival at Ontario Place. Deb is designing both the interactive audio design and the video design for “The Perfect Word”.

How long have you been working with Peggy? Do you recall the first project you worked on together?

DS: I’ve been working with Peggy for over a decade and a half, first accompanying classes for her on percussion (I am primarily a percussionist) with her late husband, Ahmed Hassan. I met Peggy though Ahmed, who was a composer and accompanist in the Canadian dance community for many years. When I moved to Toronto he and I became friends, and he mentored me and introduced me to Peggy and modern dance, as well as many other musicians who have since become close friends and with whom I still play music today.

Debashis Sinha

If I remember correctly, the first major project I worked on with Peggy was a remount of Sanctum, which was a piece that she and Ahmed created many years ago. Ahmed had multiple sclerosis, and he and Peggy decided that it would be me that would reprise his role as musician onstage for a remount as Ahmed was losing his coordination and beginning to restrict his artistic practice to voice and composition. It was a great honour for me, and an extension of the deep friendship I had with Ahmed and Peggy.

Since then, I have collaborated with Peggy on many performances and compositions, as well as accompanying her dance classes at Canada’s National Ballet School for many years. I am very fond of saying that my collaborations with Peggy have made me the musician I am today.

What do you have to do to prepare for “The Perfect Word”?

DS: Peggy found an amazing book for me to make my visuals from – The Complete Encyclopedia of Illustration. I am combing through its thousands of public domain images to create a photo stream that the audience members can use as a starting point to think of their Perfect Word, which they are invited to speak into a microphone set up for this purpose. As the night goes on, the many words that the public speaks will be looped and will create a drone of sound that will be the main audio element for the installation, on top of the text that the dancers will speak in their various languages (which will also be processed somewhat and added to the soundscape).

How does a live audience alter your preparations?

DS: It is impossible to predict what will happen once the installation is opened up to the public. I have some good ideas, and have designed my audio accordingly (e.g. making sure the audio signal does not distort and remains at a manageable level, even with the many microphones that will be live during the night). But the great thing about sharing a work, particularly a work that will be built by the public, is that one never really knows what will happen, especially since I don’t have the ability to run the installation exactly as it will be on the night.

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Don’t miss the chance to see and hear Debashis Sinha live in action. “The Perfect Word” is part of the in/future festival, Sept 15-18 at tOntario Place.

Fides Krucker’s trip down memory lane…

We’re taking a trip down memory lane with each of the extraordinary artists from Phase Space. Catch up by scrolling down to the beginning with Sahara Morimoto, Sean Ling, Sarah Fregeau, Kate Holden, Ric Brown, Andrea Nann, and John Kameel Farah.

Fides Krucker

Which dance production/performance will you always remember?

There are several, almost all from the 80s. David Earle’s Sacra Conversazione set to Mozart’s Requiem in Banff, Margie Gillis dancing to Tom Waits’ songs in BC, Marie Chouinard and her L’après midi d’un faun with Debussy’s music in Ottawa, and Pina Bausch’s Cafe Müller in Toronto’s Ryerson Theatre.

Do you remember the first time you discovered Peggy Baker?

Yes I do! Peggy was dancing and Andrew Burashko was playing the piano. It must have been the early 90s. I don’t remember the name of the piece but I do remember a feeling of literal expansion within my own body as I watched her move. The breadth of her gestures and how she filled them and the way she covered the full terrain of the stage left a profound mark on me.

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Peggy Baker Salon (2015) Suba Sankaran and Fides Krucker. Photo by: Makoto Hirata

What’s your earliest memory of performing?

I got to play a large role with lots and lots of words in the grade 3 play. I don’t remember what it was about…I think I got the part because I was able to memorize these long speeches. It did not feel creative but I do remember my costume… an oversized green turtleneck over tights. I think it was my grandfather’s shirt! The burden of getting all those words right, and a feeling of being ‘caught in the lights’ when we finally had an audience remains with me. It is remarkable that I returned to performing in my 20s – though I seem to avoid words!

elegant equations (2015) Fides Krucker. Photo by Dragonfly Imagery

Which choreographer, from any era, would you like to work with?

I think it would be Rudolf Laban. The time and place in which he lived and worked (early 20th century Europe) is a period I yearn for, or fantasize that I might have thrived in. He worked with weight, space and time in a way that makes sense to me and feels compatible with how I experience voice and vocal creation. He broke with tradition in his own unique way as others like Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Kandinsky and Klimt were transforming music and painting.

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Peggy Baker Salon (2015) Fides Krucker and choir. Photo by: Makoto Hirata

For Peggy Baker Dance Projects:

Fides has previously collaborated with Peggy Baker to reconstruct and coach Ahmed Hassan’s vocal score for Geometry of the Circle, created the vocal soundscape for land / body / breath, which premiered in the Thomson Collection of Canadian Paintings and First Nations Objects at the AGO in May 2014 and was the vocalographer for locus plot in 2015.

Be sure to catch Phase Space, January 22-30. For tickets and info visit here

John Kameel Farah’s trip down memory lane…

We’re taking a trip down memory lane with each of the extraordinary artists from Phase Space. Catch up by scrolling down to the beginning with Sahara Morimoto, Sean Ling, Sarah Fregeau, Kate Holden, Ric Brown, and Andrea Nann.

John Kameel Farah

What’s your earliest memory of performing?

I guess my first performance was singing “Saturday Night” by the Bay City Rollers for my sister and her friends when I was five, dancing and playing air guitar on a tennis racket. If it had been in front of thousands of people I still would have been pretty uninhibited.

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locus plot (2015). John Kameel Farah, Sean Ling, Ric Brown. Photo by Makoto Hirata

What dance production/performance will you always remember?

The first real dance piece I made music for was a solo piece choreographed by Julia Sasso in 2001, danced by Heasuk Kim. The choreography was so animalistic and grotesque, yet beautiful; it really made a strong impression on me. The piano was situated above and behind the stage, and I will always remember the image of watching this contorted dancer slowly crawl towards the audience as I was playing, it was primal.

Do you remember the first time you discovered Peggy Baker?

I was at a show at the Theatre Centre with a friend, and she said, oh the next dancer is amazing, she’s incredibly expressive with her hands and has this overwhelming stage presence. It turned out to be Peggy, and it was a powerful experience.

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Encoded Revision (1996). John Kameel Farah and Benjamin Kamino. Photo by Makoto Hirata

Which choreographer, from any era, would you like to work with?

It would be amazing to make music with someone who coordinated dance movement in ceremonies or festivals in some ancient civilization, for example in ancient Babylon. It would be fascinating to see how the dance was put together, what creative freedom they might have had, how the dance interacted with the music, what kinds of instruments they had and whether it was improvisatory or completely pre-determined.

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elegant equations  – free lunchtime concert series with the COC (2015). Sarah Fregeau and John Kameel Farah. Photo by Dragonfly Imagery

For Peggy Baker Dance Projects:

John also performs Piano/Quartet, Encoded Revision, In a Landscape, Aleatoric Solo No. 1Aleatoric Duet No. 2 and locus plot.

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Piano/Quartet (2012). Ric Brown, Sahara Morimoto, Andrea Nann. Pianist John Kemeel Farah. Photo by John Lauener

To watch John improvise live on stage, join us for Phase Space, January 22-30. For tickets and info visit here

Andrea Nann’s walk down memory lane…

We’re taking a trip down memory lane with each of the extraordinary artists from Phase Space. Catch up by scrolling down to the beginning with Sahara Morimoto, Sean Ling, Sarah Fregeau, Kate Holden, and Ric Brown.

Andrea Nann

Which dance production/performance will you always remember?

Danny Grossman Dance Company at the Vancouver Children’s Festival in Vanier Park.  It was the late 70s or early 80s and my mom was taking me to see a lot of shows.  But all I remember is seeing DGDC’s performance of Higher with Pamela Grundy and Randy Glynn.  The dance literally blew my mind, I had never seen anything like it.  It felt exciting and dangerous, I didn’t even want to blink.  As it turns out there was quite a scandal that followed and I think the company may have been asked to cut the piece from their programme because some parents thought it was explicitly and inappropriately sexy!  I don’t know the details, perhaps I’m spreading fantastic rumours.  I do know that I saw Higher performed again by Danny and Judy Miller at the Premiere Dance Theatre in 1987 and I never looked back.  I joined the company in 1988 and danced with the Grossman clan for 15 years. Higher has been a highlight in my performance career ever since, I have probably danced this work more times than any other piece and every time I do I still don’t want to blink!

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In a Landscape (2013) Andrea Nann. Photo by Makoto Hirata

Who is your dream duet with?

The duet is my favourite compositional form, a configuration for 2 individuals to meet and to transcend their solo realities.  How could I possibly identify one dream partner?!  In Phase Space, Peggy has given me the honour of dancing a duet with Sean Ling, and later in the new year I will dance again with Brendan Wyatt in a Dreamwalker Dance Company show. This past August I danced Higher (yes ALSO a duet) with Eddie Kastrau at Randy Glynn’s Festival of Dance Annapolis Royal.  Quite honestly, I feel that every day I’m profoundly entangled in duets with family members and friends and with colleagues who are willing to meet me equally and with abundance.

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coalesce (2010) Sean Ling, Andrea Nann. Photo: Makoto Hirata

Which choreographer, from any era would you like to work with?

I’d love to work with Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui.  I was introduced to his work by Guy Cools who collaborated with Cherkaoui and Akram Khan during the creation of Zero Degrees, a dance that encapsulates everything that I love about Cherkaoui’s work: emotions producing movement and movement producing emotions, “everything engaging with everything naturally”, where genres and forms and aesthetics seamlessly merge and one is constantly surprised, and where movement is full, virtuosic, unbounded and where stillness has weight and gravitas.  There is a profound humanism at the core of Cherkaoui’s actions.  His work is exhilarating and boundless and it embodies artistic, social and cultural values that are meaningful to me –  borderless-ness, confluence, transcendence.

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COC Free Concert (2013) Andrea Nann. Photo by Chris Hutcheson

Do you remember the first time you discovered Peggy Baker?

I first learned about Peggy Baker when I was a student at York University.  Peggy was living in New York at the time, dancing with Lar Lubovitch.  So I didn’t truly discover Peggy until she was back in Toronto performing a programme of solo works.  During that show time expanded as Peggy filled every moment with piercing intention and sublime presence.  I felt her as she was dancing, as if I could trace her experience inside of every movement.  It was early 90s.

What song are you itching to dance to? 

Life on Mars – David Bowie

Do you have a signature dance move?

Sure.  It likely has something to do with a spinning hairdo…

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Piano/Quartet (2012) Ric Brown, Andrea Nann, Sean Ling. Photo by John Lauener

What’s your earliest dance related memory?

Age 4?  Putting on my rubber boots and ‘mucking around’.

For Peggy Baker Dance Projects:

Andrea’s repertoire with Peggy Baker Dance Projects includes Unfold, moveAleatoriaPiano/QuartetIn a Landscape, and coalesce

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Aleatoria (2010) Andrea Nann. Photo by Omer Yukseker

To watch Andrea in motion, join us for Phase Space, January 22-30. For tickets and info visit here. Use code EARLY20 for $20 tickets for performances between January 22-24. (Offer expires December 24) 

Ric Brown’s trip down memory lane…

We’re taking a trip down memory lane with each of the extraordinary artists from Phase Space. Catch up by scrolling down to the beginning with Sahara Morimoto, Sean Ling, Sarah Fregeau, and Kate Holden.

Ric Brown

Which dance production/performance will you always remember?

When I was in school I saw Holy Body Tattoo perform, Our Brief Eternity at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, and at that moment I wanted to dance for them. I loved the strength and beauty and rawness of the piece. Years later I was very fortunate to perform Monumental for them. Also, appearing as “the walrus” for Piña Bausch and taking a bow with the company is a performance I will always treasure.

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locus plot (2015). Sarah Fregeau, Sahara Morimoto, Ric Brown, Kate Holden. Photo by Makoto Hirata

Who is your dream duet with?

Yvonne Coutts. We worked together at Le Groupe Dance Lab, but never had a duet together. She is an incredible artist. I would love to dance with her.

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elegant equations (2015) Sean Ling and Ric Brown. Photo by Dragonfly Imagery.

Which choreographer, from any era would you like to work with?

Martha Graham! When I studied Graham technique in school, I fell in love with the beauty of it.

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stone leaf shell skin (2014). Ric Brown, Mateo Galindo Torres. Cellist: Shauna Rolston. Photo by Makoto Hirata.

Do you remember the first time you discovered Peggy Baker?

I met Peggy when I was in school at Toronto Dance Theatre. She was a guest teacher and so incredibly generous and inspiring. The first time I saw her perform was the duet, In Thine Eyes, with Doug Varone. It was one of the most beautiful performances I have ever seen. I’ll never forget a specific moment when Peggy hit a light cue with the utmost perfection. I was mesmerized.

What song are you itching to dance to? 

I want to dance to a country music song!! Lol. I love country music and would love to do an amazing duet to a song.

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Piano / Quartet (2012) Ric Brown and Sean Ling. Photo by Makoto Hirata.

Do you have a signature dance move?

You need to see MY rendition of Sia’s Chandelier!! Ask Darryl Tracy. THAT is my signature move!

What’s your earliest dance related memory?

In university I was in a musical where I was acting and singing, and at the time, as a non dancer would be choreographed to the back, ” waving my arms “. The dancers were doing all these fantastic tap numbers and having so much fun. I wanted to be part of that! So, when the choreographer opened “Studio 4 Dance”, in the basement of an old abandoned Biway Store, I quickly joined. Soon I was doing kicks and pirouettes to Rhythm is a Dancer! And loving every moment!

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stone leaf shell skin rehearsal (2014). Ric Brown. Photo by Makoto Hirata.

For Peggy Baker Dance Projects:

Ric’s repertoire with Peggy Baker Dance Projects includes moveNight Garden, Piano/Quartet, Split Screen Stereophonic, stone leaf shell skin, land | body | breath and locus plot.

To watch Ric in motion, join us for Phase Space, January 22-30. For tickets and info visit here. Use code EARLY20 for $20 tickets for performances between January 22-24. (Offer expires December 24) 

Kate Holden’s trip down memory lane…

We’re taking a trip down memory lane with each of the extraordinary artists from Phase Space. Catch up by scrolling down to the beginning with Sahara Morimoto, Sean Ling, and Sarah Fregeau.

Kate Holden

Which dance production/performance will you always remember?

Oh there are so many, and for different reasons. There are some that just get into your bones for whatever reason. Some dances the music could come on and I would remember almost every step.  There’s a work that the magnificent Kate Alton made for Kate Franklin and myself that stands out in particular, called Double Life. It was the first piece that Franklin and I had ever commissioned and was the beginning of a period of rapid learning, destabilization and actualization for me as an artist. The work itself has a complex interlocking pattern and a relentless beat that stuck with me.

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locus plot (2015). Photo by Makoto Hirata

Who is your dream duet with?

I set out to dance my dream duet a couple of years ago with Marc Boivin and it resulted in the commission of WOULD by Mélanie Demers, which premiered in 2013 in Toronto. We are still performing the work. It’s still dreamy.

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locus plot (2015). Sahara Morimoto, Sarah Fregeau, Sean Ling, Kate Holden, Ric Brown. Photo by Makoto Hirata

Which choreographer, from any era would you like to work with?

I would love to work with Crystal Pite. I know so many dancers today would also say that – and perhaps it’s an easy answer to choose a current choreographer. But I would love to get inside of her creative process.

Do you remember the first time you discovered Peggy Baker?

When I was in high school I was performing in a work of Gabby Kamino’s at fFIDA and we were on the same program as Peggy.  It could have been In a Landscape that Peggy was performing but I’m not positive as I can’t find a programme – but I do recall standing in the wings, mesmerized by her movements.

Do you have a signature dance move?

I feel like someone else could call me out on my current habits better than I can- but I do always seem to end up on the floor.

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land | body | breath at the AGO (2014). Photo by Makoto Hirata

What’s your earliest dance related memory?

My first performance memory would be spinning in circles with streamers tied to my wrists – I think I was a planet…..

For Peggy Baker Dance Projects:

Kate’s repertoire with Peggy Baker Dance Projects includes Brahms Waltzes, coalesce, Night Garden, land | body | breath, and locus plot. 

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Night Garden rehearsal (2012). Kate Holden, Benjamin Kamino, Sarah Fregeau. Photo by Makoto Hirata

To watch Kate in motion, join us for Phase Space, January 22-30. For tickets and info visit here

Sarah Fregeau’s trip down memory lane…

We’re taking a trip down memory lane with each of the extraordinary artists from Phase Space. Catch up by scrolling down to the beginning with Sahara Morimoto and Sean Ling.

Sarah Fregeau

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elegant equations – free lunchtime concert series with the COC (2015). Sarah Fregeau and John Kameel Farah. Photo by Dragonfly Imagery

What dance production/performance will you always remember?

Dancing in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Iphigenie en Tauride in 2011. The set was incredibly dramatic – it was a black box with a steeply raked stage, and the show opened with water running down the walls, the dancers frantically scrawling the names of characters on the walls in white chalk, then turning to run full speed towards the edge of the stage… I loved the raw emotion and high drama of it.

Which choreographer, from any era would you like to work with?

I’ve only seen two short works of his, but Idan Sharabi. I loved both of those pieces, the way every molecule seemed to be involved in the movement.. I saw a million joints where I know there are none. It gives the impression that many points all over the dancers’ body have minds of their own, and work in harmony or discordance, agreeing with or opposing each others’ objectives. I love the complexity that.

Do you remember the first time you discovered Peggy Baker?

The first memory I have of encountering Peggy’s work was seeing her perform Non coupable by Paul-André Fortier at the Betty Oliphant. It was so deeply personal and intimate, and I connected very strongly with how the movement seemed entirely motivated by an inner experience. That piece has stayed with me.

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Spilt Screen Stereophonic (2013). Sarah Fregeau and Benjamin Kamino. Photo: John Lauener

What song are you itching do dance to?

Ohhh some sexy oldies song would be fun! I’d love to do a fun, sorta playful something to a really groovy pop song.

Do you have a signature dance move?

Yes. Signature motown dance night move: It is something like a slow hip swing with wrists tossing down repeatedly. Can also be done to the twist. Very specific.

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Photo by Sean Howard (2013)

What’s your earliest dance related memory?

The first dance studio I went to was a Cecchetti ballet school inside an old one room school house outside of Owen Sound, where I grew up. We lived in a farm house 15 minutes outside of town in the other direction, so it was about a 30 minute drive to class. I remember sitting on our kitchen table before class, eating a scottish bap (a type of bun) with butter and cheese before getting in the car to make the drive there. I think that was a regular thing.

I remember the feeling of doing a temps levé for the first time.. I loved how it felt.

For Peggy Baker Dance Projects:

Sarah joined Peggy Baker Dance Projects in 2012 and has performed in Split Screen Stereophonic (Dora Mavor Moore nomination for outstanding performance by an ensemble), locus plot, land | body | breath at the AGO, and Aleatoria, Night Garden, and The Perfect Word for Nuit Blanche.

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The Perfect Word (2014). Photo by Makoto Hirata

To watch Sarah in motion, join us for Phase Space, January 22-30. For tickets and info visit here