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Interview with an Artist: Episode 1

1. What is your name?
Michael Caldwell

2. What is the exact location of where you are based?
Toronto, ON

3. Tell us in 25 characters who you are.
Michael is – a dancer, a choreographer, a performer, an American, a husband, a son, a food and wine lover, an explorer, a dreamer, a traveler, an advocate, a fighter, a filmmaker, and a voice.

4. Who has been the greatest influence in your life and why?
My parents.  My mother’s bold eccentricity and creativity and my father’s steadfast, solitary focus inform every aspect of my life, including my art-making process.

5. What was the last book or film you read/saw?
“Weekend” – A stunningly quiet film from British newcomer, Andrew Haigh, that was recently screened at the Inside Out LGBT Film Festival in Toronto…  A compelling drama about a chance meeting between two men on a Friday night and a tearful farewell on Sunday afternoon.

6. Tell us a little about the work you are performing at d:mic/fac
Ash Unravel – A deeply personal solo choreography, inspired by my mother – her upbringing in Vietnam, her immigration to America, and her recent passing in 2008.  Further inspiration is gathered from my first journey to Vietnam in May 2010.  All of my choreographic work focuses on loss, in one form or another – in terms of the death of a loved one, the loss of innocence, purity, or identity, or the disintegration of mind/body.  Ash Unravel delves into the former of these losses and explores the grieving process, in all its stages, and ruminates on what lies beyond grief and pain…

Ashes are an indicator.  Something has burned – something has been destroyed.  They signify an ending and a beginning.  From these ashes, something will rise…  Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.  They offer a glimpse at finality, and a moment of uncertainty.

7. Is Toronto a good place to perform in?
Absolutely.  Toronto is my home, and there are a bevy of artists creating amazingly rich works of art, in all mediums.  I have discovered some wonderful artistic collaborators in Toronto, such as Phil Strong (sound), Ron Snippe (lighting) and Jim Searle and Chris Tyrell from Hoax Couture (costumes).  The audiences are warm and appreciative, and completely open and receptive.  I look forward to sharing this most recent work with this fine city.

8. What do you do without fail following a show or before a show, to prepare?
Pre-show:  meditate, say a small prayer, thank the world – for allowing me to do what I love to do as my career
Post-show:  I definitely find a place to have a drink with the cast, crew, or some friends

9. What is your favourite thing about Toronto?
Two words – 1. Community.  For a city as large as Toronto, it is so very easy to find a small community to which you belong, whether geographic, ethnic, or business-oriented.  I am honored to be surrounded by the amazing artists of the dance community, and I am so blessed to find a home as a gay, Vietnamese-American man in the Church/Wellesley area of the city.  2. Food.  No other city in the world (and I have been to lots) can offer such a wide array of delicious and authentic food options from all over the world, just minutes from my doorstep.

Michael’s new work Ash Unravel will be presented as a part of the Morrison Series Thursday, August 11 at 9:00, Saturday, August 13 at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday, August 14th at 2:00 p.m.  You can purchase tickets online at www.artsboxoffice.ca or by calling 416.504.7529. Click here more information.

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