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Active learning

Grenfell Campus selects vertical dancer as 2016 dancer-in-residence


By Melanie Callahan

For the second consecutive year, Grenfell Campus theatre students will have the opportunity to learn through movement.

Memorial University and its partners, Creative Gros Morne and DanceNL, are pleased to announce the Memorial University dancer-in-residence for 2016 will be Julia Taffe.

The dancer-in-residence program takes place over six weeks in three different locations in Newfoundland and Labrador. During the fall 2016 term, Ms. Taffe will spend two weeks in each of St. John’s, Corner Brook, and Gros Morne National Park.

Ms. Taffe says she is honoured and delighted to be coming to the province.

“I would like to commend Dance N.L., Memorial University and Creative Gros Morne for creating the dancer-in-residence position and providing this unique opportunity for dance-focused creative exchange and artistic research,” she said. “I applied for the position because my artistic practice is deeply influenced by my surroundings and I get tingles when I imagine spending time on The Rock. I am looking forward to meeting and working with local artists while being immersed in some of the powerful landscapes and venerable communities of Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Unique learning

In each location, she will pursue personal research as well as engage with students and the wider public. As well as supporting artistic research and development, the residency is a unique opportunity for community engagement by bringing new skills and perspectives to Memorial and the greater community.

As a choreographer, Ms. Taffe combines art, the environment and adventure by dancing on buildings and mountains. She is the founder and artistic director of Aeriosa, a vertical dance company based in Vancouver, B.C. Aeriosa transforms neighbourhoods into theatres and explores wild environments as dramatic stages for live dance.

Julia Taffe is the 2016 dancer-in-residence at Memorial.
Julia Taffe is the 2016 dancer-in-residence at Memorial.
Photo: Submitted

Dance + rock climbing = vertical dance

She has choreographed site-specific works at locations such as Stawamus Chief Mountain, Taipei City Hall, Cirque du Soleil’s headquarters, Vancouver Library Square, Banff Centre, Scotiabank Dance Centre, Toronto’s 58-storey L Tower, the traditional Coast Salish Territory of Vancouver’s Stanley Park and the traditional Nuu-chah-nulth territory of Clayoquot Biosphere Reserve on Vancouver Island.

Ms. Taffe and Aeriosa received the Canadian Dance Assembly I Love Dance Innovation Award in 2012. She is the second woman to achieve the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides Rock Guide certification. As well, she has worked as a climbing guide, instructor, coach, rigger, stunt performer and mountain safety technician for film and TV productions from British Columbia to Morocco.

“We received more than 35 applications from across North America,” said Alex Fallis, Grenfell Campus theatre instructor and a selection committee member. “Julia’s stood out not only due to her unique artistic practice―vertical dance―and the strength of her research program, but also because of her previous artistic work that engages with geography and history. The committee felt that this aspect of her work would be an excellent fit in this province, and we aim to facilitate events and opportunities for interaction.”

Specific events in each location will be announced in the coming months.

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