Con8 Collective Interview: Their Work

Elisabeth: So you mentioned you have a similar style, in terms of the dance that you want to do. Could you tell us a little more about that?

Gina: Yes, style might not have been my best choice of words, um, we-

Charlotte: Can I just make a really small interruption?

Gina: Yeah?

Charlotte: This is totally unrelated. Did you see that video I sent you?

Gina: Yes!

Charlotte: Wasn’t it so cool?

Gina: So. Cool.

Charlotte: When you said style I just- that was just some amazing, really unique partnering stuff in there.

Gina: Yeah! I was like, can we learn that?

Charlotte: I know, it was really cool.

Gina: I’m not that flexible but uh… haha we have similar values in terms of what we like to perform and, I think, similar values in terms of what we like to perform and I think, similar reasoning as to why we want to perform. Like what gets put on stage and how it relates to the audience. Whether we’re doing it for the audience or for us, we have a lot of discussions about that and tend to agree on a lot of different fronts. We also work really well together and bounce ideas  back and forth in a pretty unique, fostering way.

Charlotte: Overall, I think we’re both intrigued by uh, kind of quirky, unique style and we’re very aware of and interested in how the audience is going to perceive our work and how that relationship is going to build over the course of a piece. I think we’ve both seen a lot of contemporary dance that is gorgeous but often more self indulgent and therefor harder for an audience to engage with and so I think audience awareness is something  that’s often in the forefront of our minds when we’re creating movement.

Gina: Yeah, in terms of a physical style, we use a lot of unison, a lot of very precise small movements.

Charlotte: Gesturals.

Gina: Small details including facial expressions, angles, gestures, eye lines… things like that.

Elisabeth: And so why DO you dance? Why did you create this company and these pieces that interact with the audience?

Gina: Well, if they won’t hire you, just make your own work! Haha. No, that’s not the only reason. I heard, I think it was Robert Lepage when he came in and did that interview at SFU - it was like a talkback or something – and he said something like “Yeah, no one would hire me so I just created my own work.” I was like wow! That’s a great idea!

Charlotte: Haha maybe there’s something to that but also-

Gina: But there’s a lot more.

Charlotte: I think that we just both love to choreograph and create our own stuff and it’s great to have an outlet but also I find it so much… so much more exiting and easy to do when we have a stated goal (a show) and a stated group (Con8) and a stated purpose (to engage the audience) where we’re like yes! We’re going to get together and we’re going to work on this not just ehhh whenever you’re in the mood let’s make something. We’re busy people and that would never happen, as I’m sure you know. Haha

Elisabeth: Definitely. 

Charlotte: So its really rewarding to kind of have set a project out to follow through on.

Gina: I think we also both believe, and we've talked about this a lot, that what we have to offer is unique and interesting and important to say because it is something different. I hasn't necessarily been seen before and that helps to justify the work that we put in.

Charlotte: Yeah, we talk a lot about, you know, what we are giving to the artistic pot that is different or-

Gina: Does it deserve to exist.

Charlotte: Like why are we putting it out there? Is there a purpose to it.

Gina: Exactly.

Charlotte: So that's a question that comes up sometimes.

Elisabeth: Do you want to tell me about the latest project that you "put out there"?

Gina: We recently presented our second in a series of three duets. Our very first duet together was titled "Hush Hush" and the second one is called "Vanilla to the Touch". We performed it as part of the 12 Minutes Max program at the Scotiabank Dance Centre. We originally performed it in the fall... or was it earlier in the year? There was a first round of performances as part of the overall season of 12 Minutes Max and then they invited us to come back to perform again this past week (June 12) which was very exciting for us. Especially because we were alongside fellow SFU alumni, as well.

Charlotte: So that's been a really great process and as Gina was saying, we are slowly working on a series of three duets. A-

Gina: A triptych.

Charlotte: Yes, we're calling it a triptych. The idea is that those three duets will relate and transition one from the next ultimately creating a longer work that we can bring to festivals and performance venues but also each duet can stand alone. Then we've got three 15 minute pieces that can go into smaller festivals and those kind of applications so we're thinking about that. Then there is the whole progression of the three duets as one full show. 

Our first duet was more just the two of us working on it 'cause it was our very first project together and this one  we've had the opportunity to really collaborate with two other artists: Robert Azevedo-

Gina: And Elliot Vaughan.

Charlotte: and so Robert came into the process. Robert is... I don't want to title him because he is so many things but he went through the SFU dance program as well and was a year ahead of both of us. We invited him to come in as an outside eye 'cause its hard to know when you're creating work on yourself.

Gina: Is it any good?

Charlotte: It could be "you guys look like idiots" you might not know!

Gina: He originally came in as rehearsal director and then his role turned quickly into semi-performer / prop master / rehearsal director.

Charlotte: As part of the work, we decided we wanted to have all these props entering the space and Robert quickly took over that role so it was great to work with him. We also worked with Elliot who composed the sound score, I hesitate to say music. Sound. Not only was he there thinking about all the audio stuff - from socks squeaking on the floor to the recorded sounds over the sound system - but anytime we got stuck on an idea he was always like... why don't you guys try to hold your breath and we're like "that's a great idea!" then we'd try it. So both of them were really influential in building the physicality and the entire look of the piece.

Gina: Especially towards the end of the process.

Charlotte: then later on in the process - sadly we didn't collaborate as much with her - but Xin Xuan Song was amazing and pretty much the last week before the performance, she jumped in and came up with this lovely lighting design and built the lights for the performance that we just performed last week. 

Gina: We love the name Con8 because it umbrella's anybody that happens to be working with us on whatever project we're producing so these three were definitely integral Con8 members during this fun process.

For more of their interview check out "Their History" and "What's Next?"