To Be Danced
To Be Danced was a collective creative research exchange project, ideated by CanAsian Dance Co-Artistic Associates Michael Caldwell and Mayumi Lashbrook, and co-created with Kate Kamo McHugh and Nidhi Baadkar. The project sought a supportive and generative environment that seeded connection to self, space/place and others, through the development of individual process and practice.
Michael and Mayumi were joined by Kate and Nidhi, to engage in a 4-month dialogue about emergent creative practices, and physicalize ideas around identity and site-specific/responsive creation. This experience was embodied through public sharings of research and practice. The structure of this residency project was iterative and malleable, shaped and led by collective desire, need and curiosity.
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To Be Danced brought together four movement-based artists from diverse experiences, generations, modalities, practices and locations. Over four months, they engaged in a collective creative research exchange studying the intersections of identity and site-specific/responsive creation. The four artists remained responsive to the emergent ideas arising in each meeting, and adjusted plans accordingly; all the while remaining true to the thematic proposal.
Meetings took place in cultural centres, arts hubs, public spaces and family homes throughout Ontario - in Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener and Elmira - working in ways that support the decentralization of dance away from an urban centre. Individual artists were invited into the research, to offer guidance and support, sharing their own intersections with identity and site-specific/responsive creation. Selected readings and recordings were brought forward as source material for conversation and movement exploration. A public gathering was held at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre where research ideas were shared and investigated with diverse participants. The various activities were created with scale in mind; each activity as a building block to a more fulsome understanding of the varying manifestations of identity in time/space.
This process supported the somatic release of hyper-stimulated nervous systems and allowed for more ease and awareness with the people, and with the environment. On an individual level, this allowed each artist participant to embody a sense of play and curiosity with each activity - ultimately freeing the self to be less restricted within creative practice. On a broader scope, To Be Danced allows for deeper connections and more resourced individuals within diverse Asian dance communities of practice.
Born in India and raised in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Nidhi Baadkar (she/her) started her training at the age of ten in the Indian classical technique of Bharatanatyam. Because of her interest in contemporary art, Nidhi completed her Diploma in Movement Art and Mixed Media at Attakkalari Centre, Bangalore, India where she trained in various forms like kalaripayattu, ballet, modern dance, and physical theatre. Currently residing in Toronto, Nidhi is a recent graduate from the School of Toronto Dance Theatre and a certified facilitator in Therapeutic Dance in Education. Interested in diversifying her production and arts management skills, she is currently pursuing her post-graduation diploma at Humber College. As an aspiring movement artist, Nidhi hopes to develop a vocabulary of her own which is deeply rooted within Indian aesthetics.
Kate Kamo McHugh is a dance and theatre artist from Kitchener, Ontario. She is interested in artistically exploring concepts such as migration, belonging and the intersection of art and care - all themes she feels intimately connected to. Recent highlights for Kate include an artist residency at the National Arts Centre, performing at IMPACT 21 Theatre Festival, and working with Cosmic Fishing Theatre. Currently she is creating her show 20 Grains of Rice: Seeds of Reclamation, an exploration of Japanese Canadian identity - cultural loss, retention and creation. Kate holds a BFA from Toronto Metropolitan University in Theatre Performance Dance.
Photo of Nidhi by: Aidan Tooth
Kate Kamo McHugh
Photo of Kate by: Colin Boyd Shafer