We turn the tables and Erin Robinsong interviews me about life as an artist.
How did you come to dance?
I started taking dance lessons at a studio in Barrie at around the age of 11 – I can’t remember if I requested lessons or if it was my parents’ idea. I liked it but wasn’t very serious about it. But I wouldn’t say that was the main influence on my becoming a dancer. As a child I loved reading and drawing and wanted to be a visual artist when I grew up. At school I discovered an affinity for big physicality, in track and field, volleyball and gymnastics. After finishing elementary school I moved to Toronto to attend the Etobicoke School of the Arts, which was where I started to study dance more seriously and fell in love with the art form.
What are you currently working on?
At the moment I’m on tour with Dusk Dances, which is one of my favorite projects. I’m dancing a duet, Eugene Walks with Grace, by Karen Kaeja, and A Flock of Flyers: Remix by Sylvie Bouchard (originally created with David Danzon).
We spend our time performing and rehearsing outdoors in beautiful parks, and get to share the work with huge, enthusiastic audiences and often people that aren’t regularly exposed to dance. Add to that that I work with some of my best friends and we get to travel around the province together. I feel lucky.
Later on the tour I’ll dance Incandescent, a new work by Kate Franklin and Meredith Thompson, and have remounted my work with Throwdown Collective, Boxset, for Earlscourt Park in Toronto.
What are your favorite parts of the creative process?
There is something really special about the initial stages of coming together with a group (or alone, though I usually create collaboratively), when nothing exists yet and there is so much potential and possibility. There’s such mystery in it – how does something come into being? But inevitably it does and it’s always a unique combination of the people involved and the chemistry and timing that happens. Yes, the first stages of brainstorming, improvising, imagining are one of my favorite parts of the creative process.
What is currently inspiring you?
I feel like my vision is opening up in a big way to learning about other artists and art forms, around the world and throughout history. There is so much to explore and be inspired by. I can’t really name one thing or person, I’m just feeling excited to explore and learn about others’ work in an attempt to discover what it is that I want to make and put out into the world. I’m feeling very inspired to instigate my own creative projects lately.
Are you engaged in other areas of practice or study, artistic or otherwise?
I study Sociology and Women & Gender Studies at U of T and have been doing so for the past four years.
How do these disciplines coexist in your life?
My academic studies feed me enormously as an artist and a person though it can be a tough balance, practically, to do both at once. I really enjoy though, how my academic studies can be both an escape into a different world and new possibility, but also make me feel more connected to my dance life. I’m able to put my life as an artist into a grander context, and it also helps me to see the world and my work from a different perspective.
What do you enjoy most about working with children?
I feel really relaxed and at ease with children. They don’t often have walls built up around them, they are just themselves: raw and uninhibited. And their imaginations are so free; they don’t know limitations. I’m always inspired by the freedom children have and the freedom I feel when I’m with them.
Describe your work space- what’s in it?
My workspace is in my home. I have a little room with wooden beams and bookcases and huge old desk that I rescued from the garbage and refinished. A window takes up one side of the room so my view is of trees and sky. Not much dancing happens in there, lots of typing, reading, plotting.