Yoga Instructors and Movement Facilitators

Judith Mintz

Yoga (Week 1)

Judith is a PhD Candidate in the Gender, Feminist, and Women's Studies program at York University. Judith’s research articulates critical race theory, feminist embodiment theory, and political economies of health to produce an analysis of contemporary yoga and complimentary health culture in North America. She teaches in Gender Studies and mothers two children.

April Miranda

Yoga (Weeks 2 & 3)

Raised in Calgary, dancing and snowboarding were my favourite ways to play and explore the edges of my comfort zone. Studied kinesiology, lived in L.A. and New York, then relocated to Toronto to grow as a performer in the film and television industry. Little did I know, yoga is all I needed to find me. I teach yoga to share the practice of being present. Yoga to me, is all about connection - connecting to oneself, others and the bigger picture. Creating time and space for one to play, learn, discover and evolve on - and off the mat - is a practice that brings me joy. 

Syreeta Hector

Contemporary Dance (Week 1)

 

Syreeta began her career with Toronto Dance Theatre (TDT), and is currently an independent dancer and choreographer. She is a proud graduate of The National Ballet School’s Teacher Training Program, and recently achieved her Master of Arts in Dance that concentrated on her Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq and African Canadian roots. This past fall Syreeta choreographed a musical film series called Haunters The Musical. Besides being a dancer, she is committed to sharing her dance expertise as a contract faculty member at York University and as a guest artist at Rosedale Heights High School. 

Bee Pallomina

Open Source Forms (Week 2)

 

Bee is a dance artist living and working in Toronto. Her practice includes movement, care and the everyday. She is an artist, educator, facilitator and mom.

Allison Peacock

Intuitive Fitness (Week 3)

 

Allison (b. Saint John, Canada, 1979) has developed artistic work that focuses on relational possibilities of dance and choreography, experimenting with forms of presentation, representation, potentiality and imagination. After completing her Master's studies in Berlin, Germany, she worked internationally performing and creating experimental choreographies. Currently she is pursuing her doctorate in Interdisciplinary Humanities, at Concordia University in Montreal.

Guest Lecturers

Judith Mintz

The Hidden Life of Plants: Synthesizing Botany and Biology Toward Social Justice (August 17)

We all know that plants and flowers add beauty to our lives. Much has been written about the Japanese relaxation trend, "forest bathing", and gardens have been part of mental health protocols for centuries. This presentation takes us far beyond the obvious idea that doing yoga and other exercise outside is beneficial. In the 1970s, Tompkins and Bird’s famous book, The Secret Life of Plants offered readers the radical notion that plants possess and inner intelligence that is symbiotically and mutually affective for humans and animals. Drawing on literature by Tomkins and Bird and inspired by Octavia Butler’s Afro-futurist vision of a postapocalyptic Earth where humans organize their lives and society around plants, this presentation explores the potential for transformative social and environmental justice through somatic practices in garden and natural spaces.

Bridget Cauthery

Garden Design as Choreography: Of Flowers and Human Movement (August 24)

Dr. Bridget Cauthery is a dance and Canadian studies scholar focussing on the impact of post/neo-coloniality and the processes of globalization on Western contemporary and popular dance practices. Her new book, Choreographing the North: Northern affinities in contemporary dance, is forthcoming from McGill-Queen’s University Press. She lectures in the Dance Department at York University and in the Theatre School at Ryerson University.

Dr. Cauthery will talk about the confluences of formal garden design and choreography from the Renaissance period through to the late 20th century.

Allison Peacock

Nature Lovers: Representations of Nature on the Stage (August 31)

In this talk Allison explores ways that the performing arts represent and indicate plants and landscapes. She discusses historical uses of costuming, props, lighting, and backdrops used to recreate the outdoors and 'natural' settings, and examines current stage uses of these techniques in ballet and opera.

Growing the Past: Moving and Being Moved at the Spadina Museum House Gardens

The grounds of the Spadina Museum, subject to extensive restoration, are now permanently maintained in fidelity with early Edwardian-Canadian realities. Consisting of a formal garden, kitchen garden, grape arbour, orchard, greenhouse, and lawns, the grounds frame the Museum, embodying a specific historical relationship with vegetation and a cultural vision of ordering the natural world. Interspecies relations unfold choreographically through the labour of human bodies and the rendering of over 300 species of plants into the subjects of Victorian aesthetics and perceptions of space, time, and form. Although the bodies of these plants are subjected to particular "human" choreographies, people also become subject to vegetative choreographies as they negotiate plants' unique and specialized bodies, lifecycles, and modes of living. Thus, the grounds exist simultaneously as a historical archive of a particular set of embodied relations between people and plants, and as a contemporary interface (or meeting place) between human and non-human worlds.

Growing the Past's primary goal is to engage artists and audiences with culturally constructed conceptions of "nature" and the dialogues between bodies that these constructions spawn. Specifically we hope to draw attention to pervasive historical, cultural, and ideological ideas that have shaped - and continue to shape - the aesthetics of gardens and of movement. The grounds of the Spadina Museum offer a dynamic space for artists, speakers, participants, and audiences to examine and reimagine historical and personal relations between bodies and the land. All programming and artistic work produced through this initiative will engage directly with the grounds: choreography, sound compositions and textile designs for costumes will be created in relation to the physical space and emerge through embodied perception and physical study; speakers will likewise draw connections between their topic of inquiry and the forces that have shaped regional, national, and indigenous conceptions of the land and artmaking; all classes will take place outside and utilize features of the environment to connect participants to the place in which they are immersed.

Immer collective will explore these historical connections and contemporary choreographic relations while proposing new ways to experience the Spadina Museum Gardens through a project entitled "Growing the Past". The project's intent is to engage artists, participants, and audiences with the cultural relations between humans and plants embedded within the site and highlight the potential for the space to generate not only historical understandings of the past, but new modes of inhabiting, navigating, and perceiving the "natural' world". "Growing the Past" consists of 3 weeks of participatory kinaesthetic and cultural programming, a 3-week artistic residency, and 3 days of live performances on the exterior grounds of the Spadina Museum.

 

Through diverse public movement classes and lectures, "Growing the Past" programming will nurture bodies and minds, fertilize historical understanding, graft together unlikely species of thought, and propagate unique creative expression. Choreographic explorations and performances facilitated by Immer will be an outgrowth of tacit experiences with the grounds, as collective members and invited artists adapt their artistic practices to the task of representing and embodying choreographic elements of the Victorian nature/culture landscape. Immer's specific contribution will focus on generating choreography based on the topography and species distribution of the formal garden located behind the Manor.

 

Our process will begin with one week of working with Wendy Woodworth, head gardener at the Museum. We will participate in the labour of maintaining the garden and familiarize ourselves with its layout and biological composition - absorbing information about the history and design from Wendy, and kinaesthetic, visual, auditory and tactile sensations from the garden. During the second week we will publicly rehearse and translate this information into a specific movement vocabulary and then transcribe it into a detailed choreographic score based on visible and "invisible" features of the historic landscape and its large assemblage of plants  Similarly, Alicia Zwicewicz and Benjamin Boles will use their experiences in the garden to generate costumes and specific non-amplified sound compositions. The final week will be focused on finalizing the choreographic work and presenting it alongside the creations of the other invited movement artists.  

 

This project provides opportunities for and showcases the work of movment artists with an interest in creation through embodied study outside of the studio. During the first week of the residency all artists will have the option to work with Wendy Woodworth to gain tacit understanding of the history, design, and biological components of the space - and to contribute to its current and ongoing maintenance. All of the artists involved in this residency have a history of producing and performing work that engages with kinaesthetic, visual, or auditory components of specific environments. Sahara Morimoto, Bee Pallomina, and Allison Peacock all have extensive experience with creating and/or performing site specific/environmental work; Benjamin Boles routinely records and transforms found sound clips collected from around the Toronto within his musical compositions; and Danielle Baskerville and I have recently completed a long term project entitled 'ARK" which used the space of the Toronto Zoo and the bodies of its inhabitants to create detailed and nuanced choreography (please see support material).

 

"Growing the Past" intends to demonstrate to its participants and audiences how creative practices can bloom and innovative movement blossom through relations with history and the environment - simultaneously establishing new roots for identity and routes for expression. The project will provide unique movement experiences for the local community and allow them to witness artistic creation, rehearsal, and performance at work - thus affecting and effecting both their physical bodies and their perspectives towards art, history, creativity, and the community.

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