Joining the Dance

There’s an ongoing joke in my family. My mother, two of my brothers and their spouses are all dancers. Ballroom and swing mostly, but there used to be some good old country and western in there too.

For years, my mother would bemoan my lack of interest. “But you have such good rhythm,” she’d say as I suppressed eye rolls. To be a good sport, I’d attend their competitions in hotel ballrooms and cheer them on, but if anyone asked me to dance, I’d run for the hills.

A few years ago,  a friend of mine made an excellent suggestion: “Tell them you dance on the page,” she said. Eureka. That was all it took to bring some humour to it and instead of badgering me, they ask how the writing is going. I suspect my mom may even be reading my blog from time to time.

So it was with a twinge of defensiveness that I immersed myself in Tidal Traces, a virtual reality work by new-media artist Nancy Lee and choreographer Emmalena Fredriksson produced at the National Film Board’s Vancouver studio.

Once I got the headset to fit,  I was transported to the intertidal mudflats of Delta, a vast expanse of shallow water flanked by low rolling hills. My guard melted immediately a I watched the dancers leap, undulate, and canter across the water. It felt as though I was part of their performance as their eyes would cast in my direction, seemingly giving me cues for the next part of the piece. There was a rushing sense of belonging and responsibility to the dance even though all I was doing was shuffling around the media room, my gaze influencing their movements.

It was the closest I’ll ever get to being in a dance troupe, and it was marvellous.

You too can be part of the dance experience (no two-stepping required) during the Women in Film Festival at Vancity Theatres, which opens tonight March 6 and runs through the 11th. Tidal Traces will be available for viewing in the lobby. The NFB is also showing the animated short film Threads by Oscar winner Torill Kove on Sunday March 11th at 4:15 pm.

As always, the curators have a stellar lineup of female driven films, along with stimulating panel discussions. I’ll be there for a good chunk of the day on International Woman’s Day March 8th so maybe I’ll see you there.



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