Dancers danced on the hill

November 30, 2006, vol.37, no.7
By Stuart Colcleugh



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This year's School for the Contemporary Arts faculty dance show ran Nov. 23-25 at the SFU Burnaby campus and featured works by choreographer and senior lecturer Cheryl Prophet (Imagine a Thousand Things), alumna Sara Coffin (BlindSided) and artist-in-residence Barbara Bourget (Tabula Rasa).

Choreographer and associate professor Judith Garay's piece 102 Legs featured 17 dancers performing with stools on stage.

Contemporary dance choreographer Judith Garay rarely gets a chance to express her work on a stage literally full of dancers.

So the associate professor of dance took full advantage of the opportunity Nov. 23-25 at Dances on the Hill, this year's School for the Contemporary Arts faculty dance show at the Burnaby campus SFU Theatre. Her piece, 102 Legs, featured 17 student dancers performing at once while “attached” to stools on stage.

“You usually can't afford to hire that many professionals,” says Garay, a former principal dancer with the legendary Martha Graham's company, who juggles teaching with her role as artistic director of the independent troupe Dancers Dancing.

Dances on the Hill also featured works this year by choreographer and senior lecturer Cheryl Prophet (Imagine a Thousand Things), alumna Sara Coffin (BlindSided) and artist-in-residence Barbara Bourget (Tabula Rasa).

The annual event “is an opportunity for our intermediate and advanced students to perform,” Garay says, “and it's an opportunity for faculty and guests to get their work out there and work with students.”

Garay (pronounced Gary) constructed 102 Legs from excerpts of her larger work Extra Extra, premiering in Vancouver in 2007, which is the fourth in a series of works inspired by photos from print media. The first, called TWO, which featured a series of duets based entirely on photos of two people doing everyday things such as playing sports or laughing together, premiered to wide acclaim.

Since then, she says, “I've done a piece called Trio of Duets and a piece called ONE, the Catwalk, which was all from fashion photography.”

Garay has made it her mission to reach as wide an audience as possible for modern dance. As for directing student dancers, she says “it's a blast. Sometimes it's distressing, sometimes it's wonderful, but it's always exhilarating.”

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