PuSh Blog

Summer 2017 curatorial update by Joyce Rosario

August 03, 2017

For the curatorial team at the PuSh Festival, summer is prime time for research, which means travelling to see work across Canada, overseas and right here at home. This is the core of our practice as performing arts curators, experiencing work live. Between Artistic & Executive Director Norman Armour and I, we’ve spent our summer thus far checking out Canada’s many festivals: Festival Transamériques (Montreal), Luminato (Toronto) and Canada Scene and Canada Dance Festival (Ottawa).

Here are some personal highlights of my travel, selected from the few decent shots I was able to snap:

In June, I was invited to participate in the third edition of CONFIGURATIONS IN MOTION: Performance Curation and Communities of Color, which takes place in Montreal during Festival Transamériques.

The conference was convened by Concordia University, with the University of Toronto and Duke University, and curated by Dr. Thomas F. DeFrantz (chair of African and African American studies and professor of dance and theater studies at Duke University) and Dr. Seika Boye (lecturer at the Centre for Drama, Theatre and performance studies and director of the Institute for Dance Studies at the University of the Toronto).

I was part of an amazing group of Canadian and American performance curators, artists and scholars who gathered to share work, develop resources and build strategies for supporting performance in, for and by Black, Indigenous and communities of colour in Canada and the United States.

The conference closed with a lecture by Dr. De Frantz entitled “Dancing the Museum” in association with DHC/ART Foundation for Contemporary Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, which made me think back to one of our 2017 PuSh Assembly events this year as part of the Critical Ideas Series with SFU’s Institute for Performance Studies, Performance at the Crossroads of Performance and Visual Art. In particular, fostering critical dialogue between practitioners working in the field, and scholars who research our work in an academic setting.

During some time off in Toronto, I couldn’t resist checking out brilliant opening night program of Luminato, entitled Tributaries and featuring an incredible line up of Indigenous artists. I was honoured to be there to witness Red Tidal Resurgence with Cris Derksen as leader and musical director, bringing together a stellar band and extraordinary voices including Leanne Simpson, Tanya Tagaq, Jennifer Kreisberg, Jeremy Dutcher, Iskwe and more!

I was sitting too far from the stage to get a good picture, but I did get this shot of Laura Grizzlypaws (St’át’imc) from Lillooet, BC (dancer, drummer and a singer/songwriter, an academic, educator and a language and cultural advocate). She came out into the crowd and danced, completely transforming the space amidst the city towers.

The world premiere of Neworld Theatre’s King Arthur’s Night at Canadian Stage, also during Luminato. I cannot wait for Vancouver audiences to see this… Coming to a festival near you, very soon (wink, wink)…

At both Festival Transamériques in Montreal and Canada Scene at Canada Dance Festival in Ottawa, I had the chance to check out Lee Su-Feh’s latest work, Dance Machine, a kinetic sculpture that can be transformed into multiple configurations by the actions and movement of the bodies within it. 64 pieces of bamboo are suspended from a central copper disk and can be moved independently by artists and audience members to create an immersive experience.

I spent part of my early career working with Su-Feh’s Vancouver-based company, battery opera performance, and it was a real treat to engage with the work. It’s brilliant on so many levels: aesthetically, it is elegant and beautiful, and structurally, it is both responsive and resilient. I’ve longed admired Su-Feh’s rigorous practice, a balance of curiosity and criticality. This kind of thinking was a great influence in my formative years in the dance milieu.

In Dance Machine, a set of simple instructions guide both performers and public. They are:

Change shape
Use what is there
Occupy centre
Relinquish centre
Value the marginal
Find rhythm
Don’t be a jerk

That very last one is one we take very seriously here at PuSh, in the words of Norman, from a blog post in 2013.


This last photo is from one of my favourite places ever: the National Gallery of Canada. (Whenever I’m in Ottawa I make an art-pilgrimage to visit The 40 Part Motet, a work by Janet Cardiff in the Rideau Chapel.) On the left is Maman a bronze sculpture by Louise Bourgeois. On the right is dancer Valeria Galluccio, performing Marie Chouinard’s IN MUSEUM. Visitors are invited to share a hope or a wish with the dancer alone, who then dances a personalized response.

Up next: Field notes from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland, where I’ll be traveling to in August.

—Joyce Rosario
Director of Programming