10 Gates Dancing opens the door to Love and other things inside the NAC’s intimate Rossy Pavilion

A scene from Love And Other Things which will be performed in the Rossy Pavilion at the National Arts Centre.

Four dancers, four singers, a percussionist and a potter will be investigating Love and other things in the NAC’s Rossy Pavilion for five next over the next week. The piece, produced by the 10 Gates Dancing company was created, directed and performed by Ottawa choreographer/dancer Tedd Robinson and composer Charles Quevillon. Before they take to the stage for the first time Saturday evening, Robinson answered some questions from ARTSFILE.

Q. Tell me a bit about yourself Tedd.

A. I grew up in Ottawa, trained in music and dance in Toronto at York University, was employed in dance in Winnipeg for 11 years, and returned to Ottawa in the early 1990s. I have been working for close to 40 years in dance and feel very lucky to have had the opportunities that I have had. After 40 years of working in dance, I would say that I am definitely nearing the final leg of this journey.

Q. Why did you start?

A. I always wanted to dance, but because of the time and place of my upbringing I was pushed towards music whenever I mentioned dance. I think this ultimately was a good thing, as I had a lot to say once I was able to. My style of dancing was not technical. I leaned towards popular and freer style rather than a more classical line and I think this had to do with my late start.

Q Why do you continue?

A. The audience seems to enjoy my work most of the time. Dancers still commission me to make work. I enjoy and am challenged by what I do, why wouldn’t I continue? Also artists generally do not have healthy pension plans, so I have always planned to keep working till I no longer can.

 Q. What influences your choreography?

A. Everything and anything can influence what I am doing in the studio. A person walking down the street is influenced by their surroundings and make choices based on the conditions and influences around them, I do that as well.

 Q. Tell me about 10 Gates. Where does the name come from?

A. 10 Gates is one of the English translations of my dharma name that I was given when I was studying zen. So 10 Gates Dancing is ‘me dancing’. I formed the company in 1998 with a mandate to provide entry points for the public to appreciate contemporary performance. We are very small, but we’re incredibly active. tengatesdancing.ca

Q. Teaching and mentoring seem to be part of your project. Can you explain?

A. I don’t “teach” really, and teaching is not a part of this particular project, although I do feel that everyone is learning all of the time. What I prefer to call it is artistic consultation with choreographers who do residencies at my studio, and through a questioning process, hopefully allow them to see their work from another viewpoint.

Q. What is Centre Q? Your involvement?

A. It is “a Centre for Questioning.” I have moved from the original Centre Q to Centre Q2, and it is there that choreographers come for residencies for a week or two and question their working process and the work itself. I am there to help them and support them in this process. I also research and create my own work there.

Q. Tell me about Love and other things. What will people see in the Rossy Pavilion?

A. They will experience both visual and sonic imagery. If they allow themselves, the audience will be brought on a journey through voices, movements and visuals, during a time of day that is thought to be restful … Dusk moving towards the Night.

Q. Why have you integrated an artist who works in clay into the show?

A. I can’t give this away, you will have to find this out for yourself. Perhaps there is no explanation but again it is an image that resonated throughout the process and grew and persisted and changed throughout the making of the work.

Q. Who is Charles Quevillon? How did you two connect?

A. Charles is a composer/performer now based in Finland, but originally from the Montreal area. We have been working together for eight years. We were put together for a project at what was then called LADMMI, a professional dance program in Montreal. Since then, we have made 21 works together. The most recent work performed in Ottawa was a duet for the two of us called TRUST.  In 2016 we performed it in the Vault at the Diefenbunker Museum, and in 2017 at the Ottawa Dance Directive’s Series Dance10.

Q. Can you describe the music?

A. Please come and experience the music for yourself. Any description is ultimately inadequate and probably misleading. The work as a whole could be described as operatic performance art/dance/music with an abstract narrative that tries to break away from traditional spaces and confines. (wink).

Q. What is the Rossy Pavilion like as a dance performance space? 

A. It is very beautiful to work in so much light. It is also interesting to have the public watch casually as we work. It is a very intimate venue, we have only 35 seats per show. I believe this is the first live dance/music show in this new space at the NAC. We are honoured and grateful.

10 Gates Dancing presents Love and Other Things
Where: Rossy Pavilion, National Arts Centre
When: May 26, 27, May 30, 31, June 1 at 7:57 p.m.
Tickets and information: nac-cna.ca

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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.