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Candice Pike - Love and Adaptation

Location: Corner Brook, NL
ArtsNL Program Funded Under: Professional Project Grants Program
Amount Funded: $7,000

Dancer Rehersal

 

Dates: January 1 to May 1, 2016
Artist Website: http://www.candicepike.com
Artist
E-mail: pike.candice@gmail.com

Candice Pike completed her first degree in 2002, a Bachelor of Arts focused on Social and Cultural Studies, before going on to complete a Master of Arts in Dance at Toronto’s York University in 2010.  That combination of degrees has led her to create original performance work rooted in the exploration of geographic and identity-based communities and histories.

Since 2010, Pike has been involved in almost 20 performances and original creations, often she holds choreograph and directorial roles as well as being a performer herself. She also shares her professional artistic skill set with others through instructional roles, and has been involved in ArtsNL’s Visiting Artist Program as well as being a class facilitator at Memorial University, Dance Studio West, Stagehead Academy, and York University. Pike also developed and facilitated Gros Morne Summer Music’s Listen, Move, Make interdisciplinary art project for youth.

In 2013 Pike was shortlisted for ArtsNL’s CBC Emerging Artist Award, and a year later was the recipient of the Roberta Thomas Legacy Award from Neighbourhood Dance Works. She is currently the President of the provincial sectoral organization for dance, DanceNL and she is the Chair of the Support and Service Standing Council of the Canadian Dance Assembly.

museum exhibit

Despite her busy schedule, Pike is in the midst of polishing off an all-new creative project called Love and Adaptation for which she received a professional project grant from ArtsNL. The project sees her pair up with dramaturge Lois Brown to create a site-specific dance performance that she will feature in, alongside a number of local family members who are chosen to participate in the show and its development. The performance will revolve around sharing the stories, emotions, and aesthetic qualities of the war brides who came to western Newfoundland.

Pike has spent the last number of weeks working with the family participants to devise each unique vignette, building on her recent creative research that has explored inter-generational memory by responding to photographs, family stories, and inherited objects. By using different techniques in improvisation, mimicry, and non-verbal communications Pike and the family members find ways of retelling stories through movement, recapturing emotions through facial and body expressions, and exploring the properties of objects, fabrics, and western Newfoundland landscapes of the early 1950s.

The project itself will come full circle, from Pike having started her research for the production at the Corner Brook Museum and Archives, to converting a space within the building to actually mount the performance in. Her goal on this front is to guide an audience through an evening of different performances happening in various areas of the museum. The performance is scheduled to take place April 23, 2016, and we catch up with Candice in our latest feature.

Q and A with Candice Pike...

ArtsNL: So how did you initially conceive of this project and why?

pike at new dance works

Candice: Over the past few years I have done a few projects that look at the relationship between site specific work, community or family history, and dance. That led to me building a relationship with the Corner Brook Museum and Archives and I have wanted to do a project directly with them for a while. Each time I go there, I have been drawn to the war brides exhibit. It consists of short profiles and pictures of the war brides who came to Corner Brook during WWII plaque mounted on one of the upstairs walls. The pictures and profiles are quite moving, but seem emotionally ‘flat’ on the wall. I had an idea to bring them to life a little more – maybe not necessarily the individual people but the experiences of making decisions based on love, and then adapting to life in Corner Brook in the 1950s.

ArtsNL: How did the initial research phases go, what were some of the interesting discoveries?

Candice: The initial research was primarily rooted in the profiles that had been collected by the Corner Brook Museum and Archives along with some academic papers on post WWII Newfoundland and the stories of Newfoundland war brides that have been collected and published online. The biggest thing that I found in the research was that there was a wide diversity of experiences but some common themes – particularly the isolation of living in Newfoundland. And, also, I loved to read about the people who ‘toughed it out’, stayed here and had families. It shows how these women are, in some ways, the mothers of our region.

ArtsNL: How and why did working with Lois Brown come about, what made you decide having a dramaturge would be important?

second museum exhibit


Candice: I met Lois a few years ago and instantly found her to be a kindred spirit. I respect her work immensely and couldn’t wait to work with her. When the idea for this project came up, I felt confident that I would be able to work with participants on finding emotions through movement. I did not feel confidant that I would have the ability to weave them together in a meaningful way. That’s where Lois’s expertise in dramaturgy really comes in.

ArtsNL: Who else have you worked with during the development stages of the project?

Candice: Along with Lois, there were a few other people who helped initiate this project. George French is the archivist at the Corner Brook Museum and Archives. His knowledge of Corner Brook’s history, museum culture, and the physical building that houses the museum has been invaluable. I also worked with the enrichment coordinator at the local school board, Christine Elliott. Initially I had hoped to engage a number of junior high school kids and Christine was very insightful about their needs and skill sets which began to shape how I thought about approaching the creative process.

ArtsNL: What was the process like finding and selecting the family unit members with whom you’d work for the project?

Candice: Corner Brook residents never cease to amaze me with their support of creative endeavours! I started by working with different groups to issue open calls for participants. I worked with the school board, local theatre, music, and dance groups, and personal connections to get the word out about this project. There was lots of interest, but some pretty big competition for people’s time with other year end recitals and tropical holidays to escape the dreary end of winter being the biggest obstacles.

However, that was just a creative challenge for me. I had to start working with the idea that in this type of emergent creative process, once someone shows interest and begins to engage with the material, they are inherently a part of the work – whether or not they can attend all the rehearsals or even be in the final performance. In this way, I was forced to be much more present with each individual creator/performer and their needs in the process, which I didn’t anticipate, but it has certainly enriched my process and hopefully theirs as well!

ArtsNL: How many did you ultimately end up with and what is the age range like?

Candice: There are 12 core creators/performers that will be in the final show. Additionally, there are about 12 local Scottish Country Dancers and a photography club who are participating in the performance. Participants range in age from about 10 to 80!

ArtsNL: What was the creative process like working with individuals who aren’t as accustomed to performance development or dance? How have they taken to the process/performance?

Candice: It was very important to me that while there are people who might not have any previous experience in creating art participating in this project that they still got to work in as professional a manner as possible, with a real stake in the creative process. This was challenging at first because it meant that I didn’t always provide the answers for them. I tried to guide the process and develop a dynamic where we all trusted each others’ creative intuition. It has been amazing to see what they have come up with. Everyone seems to be open to trying something new and their dance pieces keep finding new layers every time we rehearse.

ArtsNL: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced developing this project and how were they overcome?

war bride exhibit


Candice: The biggest challenges of this project so far have been personal; how do I create and administer this project with a four month old baby?! But that has enhanced the project too, especially because there are a number of parent-child partnerships participating which affords me the opportunity to explore the role of artist-mother, and see the benefit of creating art as a family.

ArtsNL: What made you decide to create a site-specific performance; why was that important to you?

Candice: I think that after you start doing site-specific work, going back to ‘the stage’ seems a little dull. I love the creative challenge of working with different spaces. It means that you really have to tune in and observe and react to the place you are in. It means that the performance is layered with the ‘voice’ of the place as well – something that is already there that can’t be controlled, just listened to. It’s been joyful to be able to take the time to ‘listen’ to such an important historical building as the Corner Brook Museum and to encourage others to do the same. It will be exciting to animate that space on April 23 and allow the public to view the building through new eyes. Maybe it will encourage them to think differently about a place they have previously ignored or taken for granted. Maybe it will encourage them to see their city as a little more magical.

ArtsNL: What kind of production elements have you built into the performance – costuming, set, etc.?

Candice: The team is really digging into these production elements now. The challenge is to use lighting and sound to help guide the audience through the space and to enhance each individual piece. I initially didn’t think sound would be that important, but it is proving to be one of the most important elements in terms of transforming the museum space, telling the story, and especially for setting the time period.

ArtsNL: How does the ArtsNL funding from the Professional Project Grants Program help?

Candice: A project like this couldn’t happen with support from ArtsNL. This program has allowed me to hire professional artists, to invest this money back into my community, and to help build infrastructure and support for a professional arts community here in western Newfoundland. The project was also funded by the Canada Council for the Arts which, because of this dual investment, means an even greater impact. It also means the project can continue into a second related phase at the Corner Brook library later this year!

ArtsNL: How can people catch the show?

Candice: Details about reserving tickets can be found on my webpage http://www.candicepike.com/works/love-and-adaptation/ and on my facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/CandicePikeInMotion

ArtsNL: After the upcoming performance, what will be next for the show – will it continue or tour?

Candice: I’m cooking up some future opportunities for this show, as a whole and with some of aspects of it in isolation. However, the process will continue in part II of this initiative where another show will be developed with poet Robin Durnford at the Corner Brook Library in June!