June 15, 2015
A few weeks ago I sat down with the creators of Con8 Collective: a local Vancouver dance group to talk about their upcoming East Van Dance workshop (there are still spots open! Check it out!) but there was no way that I could fit all of what we talked about in my profile article so... here's the full interview! Aren't they amazing?
Elisabeth: Why don’t we start with some of your dance background?
Gina: I am from North Vancouver and I started dancing at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre when I was about 3 years old. Which is a block away from us now. As I did Ukrainian there, I quickly realized I loved dance – or my mom realized that I really loved dance and I was put into a studio on the North Shore called the North Shore Academy of dancing and I danced there for, oh, I don’t know… ten to fifteen years doing ballet/jazz.
I did all my exams: modern exams, ballet exams. I was a studio kid and we did lots of competing. Eventually, after stopping for a few years, I completed my advanced two modern exam and decided that dancing was definitely for me so I auditioned for SFU (Simon Fraser University). I was in Ukrainian this whole time, as well, and then I got into the SFU Dance Program, completed my degree and subsequently went to the Ukraine in 2013 to train there for two weeks with the Virsky Ensemble.
Now, I dance with Charlotte as part of Con8, I still dance and teach at the Ukrainian Cultural Centre and recently started dancing and performing for Aeriosa, as well, doing aerial dance. And… well, that’s the abbreviated version. Haha
Charlotte: And I am originally from Seattle, so not from around here. Grew up there dancing similar to Gina, sort of at a very early age but in… well, in The States contemporary dance is more often refered to as Modern dance and so I started out in Creative Modern which is very much, uh, not technique driven. It’s more about kids exploring their own voices, their own creative path. SO I really built a level of choreography there, not so much the technical.
As I grew older, I wanted to explore the technical side but I was totally into choreographing. Um yeah, lots of dance in Seattle haha and then I came up to SFU to continue training. I completed my degree a year ago, same as Gina and since have been working with her as Con8. I recently had the opportunity to work with the Training Society of Vancouver as one of the scholarship people for working class which is a contemporary class held Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the Dance Centre. That was a really great gift. I teach dance class, contemporary class, as well.
Elisabeth: And where do you teach?
Charlotte: At the Ukrainian Hall, as well, but I’m the contemporary teacher, not the Ukrainian teacher. Haha
Elisabeth: Cool. Then how did you two first cross paths?
Gina: We met at SFU in 1st year, um, and we’ve been good friends since. In 3rd year we decided mutually that it would be a good idea to choreograph together because we seemed to enjoy the same aesthetic in movement and move in similar styles. We obviously had access to a lot of studio space (at SFU) and got to kind of take our time creating our first duet which was called Hush-hush. We put that into an informal showing and it got great feedback and eventually made it to the student mainstage show and again really received great feedback so that was kind of the start.
Charlotte: That was the start and then we had the amazing opportunity to get to choreograph in a variety of other ways. We worked with live musicians and composers as part of an annual performance that happens there (at SFU) called Ascension. We got to work with a larger number of dancers. I think about six or seven. We also organized and produced our own show as part of our thesis our senior year. We got to reimagine the original duet that we very first made with our entire graduating class – almost twenty people – which was really fun to do. So we had a lot of opportunity to play in all those ways and then graduated and we’ve kept moving forward!
Gina: It was nice to be able to have 4 pieces by the time we left SFU. A duet, a quartet, basically a twenty person piece and a smaller seven person piece. We decided then to name Con8 - I think it was somewhere between 3rd and 4th year. That’s when Con8 was born. We made a plan and then luckily had access to some space after we graduated at the Ukrainian Hall, which has allowed us to keep working since then.
Charlotte: Yeah, I think that’s really one of the biggest reasons we’ve been able to keep creating stuff ‘cause it is so hard without space.
Gina: It is a huge help for us.
Charlotte: And it’s been a real gift in using that space because since we both teach there, they allow the two of us to use the space when other people haven’t booked it. That – by not having a deadline or the weight of paying an hourly rate – has given us a lot of chance to play and I think our best work is made through play. Not having that “ahh deadline” fear has just been really lovely.
For more of their interview check out "Their Work" and "What's Next?"