Dancing Anywhere, Anytime—Cheryl Rossi on Dancing in Le Grand Continental
January 08, 2015
On January 24 and 25, the PuSh Festival is presenting an outdoor dance performance by Montreal-choreographer Sylvain Émard. But unlike most dance performances we’ve come to imagine, Le Grand Continental involves 70-or-so everyday Vancouverites of varying dance ability and experience who have come together for an experience of a lifetime. Their individual commitments to the project—for the love of dance, the experience, the challenge, whatever their impulse may be—is undeniable: 10 weeks of rehearsal, twice a week, performing in rain or shine.
We asked Cheryl Rossi, a Le Grand Continental dancer and reporter for the Vancouver Courier, to share her thoughts from the inside.
I used to say that I’d dance anywhere, anytime. Going out for drinks was never the end game. That was the precursor to the main event, dancing.
Now, two decades later, when I seek people and nightlife, I typically note most of the other clubbers are so young they could have emerged from my womb. So other than seeing a specific band or DJ I mostly get my groove on in dance-y fitness classes.
When another dance enthusiast from one of those dance-y exercise classes posted in a Facebook group about learning choreography from professionals and performing in Le Grand Continental in the 2015 PuSh Festival, I was intrigued. I auditioned. When I was told I was accepted I committed to at least two two-hour rehearsals a week for three months.
We started learning Sylvain Émard’s choreography in November. At first it was exhilarating. Then it became daunting. I can learn a step, sure. But to string a bunch of moves together and remember what comes next… that’s another story. And we were to learn 30 minutes of choreography. Three weeks in I suffered a crisis of confidence. Physical intelligence doesn’t come naturally to me. But then I realized I wasn’t the only one attending the optional dance practices early Saturday evenings.
In December, we were told we had learned the bulk of the piece we’ll be performing in January. I felt relieved and a little proud.
Telling myself to kick left first or to turn on the count of eight while stepping and snapping still feels like I’m prying open a sticky filing cabinet drawer in my brain, but the drawers are opening. And I love that I’ve made new acquaintances and friends.
Le Grand Continental particpant
Read Cheryl’s account for the Vancouver Courier here
Join the cast of Le Grand Contintental for four performances: January 24 and 25, at 1PM and 4PM. The performance will take place at the Queen Elizabeth Plaza, rain or shine. Free!