Artistic Modus Operandi: Priming the next generation of dance artists

Vancouver International Dance Festival (VIDF) has a reputation for bringing together some of the world’s leading names in dance. But what about those names that haven’t yet gained notoriety?

Modus Operandi
Vancouver's Modus Operandi is a student dance program that promotes the next generation of "hungry" contemporary dance artists. Photo credit: Yvonne Chew

Vancouver International Dance Festival (VIDF) has a reputation for bringing together some of the world’s leading names in dance. But what about those names that haven’t yet gained notoriety? Everyone has to start their career somewhere, which may be why the VIDF also offers itself up as a ground to display Vancouver’s new, emerging artists, like the students of the Vancouver contemporary dance program, Modus Operandi. Their names may be unfamiliar now, but, a few years down the road, they might carry a buzz we can all look forward to.

From March 13 to 15, 2014, with the guidance of The Dance Centre’s current Artist in Residence, Deanna Peters, students of Modus Operandi took the stage at the Roundhouse Theatre to show the audience the true meaning of performance. Cheeky, fun, and dramatic, Peter’s piece, Structure Tone, offered these students the framework to develop, explore, and embody a series of “characters” that interacted and morphed over the span of 20 minutes. At one instance the stage was filled with Aretha Franklins, and, the next, many particles of a somber smoke.

Modus Operandi students answered questions after a performance at the Roundhouse Theater on March 13, 2014.

While talking to the students after the performance, it was explained to me that the piece was largely improvised: an interesting exercise considering that most dancers are brought up to follow strict choreography, and to seek out technical perfection through practice and repetition. Structure Tone, on the other hand, allowed the students to disengage from over-thinking or second-guessing the “character’s” intention, and left them with a purity of movement and expression that was quite enjoyable to watch. Looking ahead, it’s experiences like these that can shape a dancer’s confidence and build up their artistic “M.O.” as the program’s name would suggest.

2012/2013 Modus Operandi promotional video

 

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