Posted on 22 Jun 2018 in

Joni Cheung’s I know you are but what am I

Recent SCA BFA graduate Joni Cheung has curated an exhibition at Centre A gallery as part of their "curatorial skills development mentorship programme." Titled I know you are but what am I, the exhibition also features SCA BFA grads Jessica Chu, Aghigh Gougani, and Andi Icaza-Largaespada, as well as artists Alanna Edwards, Candice Jee, Tse Chun Sing, and Olivia Chow. Here's what Centre A has to say about the exhibition:

In this exhibition, Cheung invites interdisciplinary artists who reflect on the systems that construct identity as static and unchanging. As they wade through personal histories and experiences, the artists challenge narratives of cultural authenticity and consider their own layered identities and the inevitably fluid exchange between identity, place, and history. Using photography, video, sculpture, installation, and performance, these artists explore conversations around intergenerational and migratory identity experiences, revolution, womanhood, family, and belonging. Like generations of migrant communities before them, these artists negotiate with their past and present selves, to expand and broaden what collective and individual identities can be. In turn, they address dialogues around travel, migration, and displacement, at the accelerating pace of globalization.

I know you are but what am I opens June 27, 2018, at 7PM and runs from June 28 to July 28. Centre A is open Tuesday to Saturday, from 12 to 5pm, and are now at their new location: Unit 205 – 268 Keefer Street. The exhibition also features Composting Workshops by Candice Jee on July 14 and July 28 at 3pm and an 'eating performance' with Olivia Chow on July 19 at 7pm.

Photo Credit: Candice Xiaobing Jee, Many flowers have foreign names (after Yu Jing 余靖). Photo: Kayleigh Madjar. 

Posted on 18 May 2018 in

Jennifer Aoki is in the SCA Alumni Dance Lab

SCA dance grad Jennifer Aoki is participating in our SCA Alumni Dance Lab this year! During the lab she will be re-working and further developing her piece Viewer Discretion, which premiered at the Calgary Fringe Festival in 2017. Based on the US election of 2016 and its aftermath, this contemporary dance piece weaves in and out of realism and absurdity. Inspired by the 24-hour news cycle, this piece manifests the continuous flow of information and consumption of news while examining people's reaction to the symbiotic relationship between politicians and media. After a year and some new cast members, Aoki is excited to revisit this piece with fresh eyes and new questions surrounding news media and politics. Viewer Discretion will be part of an eclectic triple-bill show, Conduit, at the Winnipeg Fringe Festival in July, 2018.  

Photo by Chris Randle.

Viewer Discretion
Choreography: Jennifer Aoki
Music: Jakob Liljenwall 
Dancers: Jennifer Aoki, Jenn Edwards, Erin Lequereux, Sam Presley, Tin Gamboa, Silene Razo, David Clennin.

Posted on 11 May 2018 in

Eleven Little Free Libraries placed in downtown Vancouver

SFU News' Kelsie Fo did some good coverage of the Little Free Libraries project, which was worked on by SCA Visual Arts students. Read more here...

Students in Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts (SCA) have repurposed and decorated 11 newspaper boxes into miniature lending libraries now available across downtown Vancouver.

A joint project with the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA), the boxes are known as Little Free Libraries where people can take, borrow or donate books in the spirit of community sharing.

Little Free Libraries is one of the DVBIA’s placemaking projects, which include revitalizing laneways and decorating electrical boxes. The goal is to improve public spaces around Downtown Vancouver to help people feel welcome, safe, engaged and happy.

This is the second collaboration between the DVBIA and SFU SCA students. In 2017, students painted the hoarding around the Harbour Centre building during renovations.

The Little Free Libraries can be found at the intersections of Alley Oop laneway and Granville St., Seymour St., West Hastings St., and West Pender St. and in Ackery’s Alley laneway behind the Orpheum Theatre and at Perch patio spaces.

For all library locations click here.

11 Little Free Libraries placed in locations across downtown Vancouver.

Posted on 11 May 2018 in

International grad student chooses SFU to explore magic of puppet animation

Here's a great SFU news story about visting PhD candidiate Hongyan Sun, who's working with the SCA's Laura U. Marks for her work on puppet animation. Read on...

The great Czech animator Jan Svankmajer calls puppet animation “a fantasy world built of real things.”

He’s right: there is something special about puppet animation that even the slickest, most expensive computer-generated imagery still can’t capture.

Puppet animation uses the technique of stop-motion to animate the movement of articulated, highly poseable doll-like puppets. The puppets are staged and moved on sets that are scaled-down, often elaborate, and cinematically lit and filmed.

Made of actual physical materials, every puppet has its own movement and rhythm—almost a sense of independent self. Yet no matter how sophisticated the work, puppet animation feels tangible and somehow familiar, remaining as modest as it is magical.

Hongyan Sun, a PhD candidate at the Communication University of China, is an emerging expert on puppet animation. She received a scholarship from the China Scholarship Council to spend a year at SFU studying under professor Laura Marks in the School for the Contemporary Arts.

She was attracted to SFU, she says, because of Marks’ research into the haptic aesthetics (touch and tactility) of moving-image and film theory.

“I believe haptic aesthetics can be combined with animation to produce something new,” says Sun, who has taken three courses so far—moving-image research methods, media art theory, and how to write an academic paper in English.

As part of her work at SFU, she curated a free, one-night screening of puppet animation films that aired on April 25. Her film selections drew from six different countries and eras, each with a markedly different style.

She says the most important aspect of her SFU experience, however, has been her discussions and research with Marks, whose theories have inspired Sun’s dissertation work.

“Professor Laura Marks impacts me a lot,” says Sun. “She is a profound knowledge scholar, always ready to help me out.”

Sun, who describes herself as a typical, contemporary Chinese graduate student, says, “In the field of humanities and art study, I deeply feel that the research systems and research interests of English-speaking countries are different from those of China. Studying at SFU has opened up a brand-new channel for me to touch and explore more possibilities and see the diversity of the world.”

Posted on 04 Apr 2018 in

Apply now to be part of the 2018 LAUNCH Arts Festival

Attention ALL students in the SFU School for the Contemporary Arts. Apply to be part of LAUNCH, a three-day festival showcasing innovative work by local emerging artists. We are looking for works that push conventional boundaries. This is a paid opportunity, which also includes training sessions and one-on-one support from a mentor working in your chosen artistic discipline.

Download the application form for current SCA students HERE

Application Deadline: Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Festival Dates: June 14-16, 2018

We are accepting applications in the following disciplines:

Visual Arts, including but not limited to: drawing, painting, photography, collage, mix-media, sculpture, installation.
Media Arts, New Forms & Interdisciplinary work, including, but not limited to: film, video, sound, experimental or new performance, and interactive media.
Performing Arts, including but not limited to: music, dance, theatre, spoken word, monologues, excerpts from a full-length work, stand-up comedy, puppetry, circus.

The 5th edition of LAUNCH is co-presented by SFU Woodward's Cultural Programs, 149 Arts Society, and SFU School for the Contemporary Arts.

Submission Guidelines

Original new artwork or work created in the past two years. We welcome premieres, ready to present, or previously exhibited work. Time based pieces submitted for the festival must have a maximum running time of 10 minutes. Provide examples of your previous work (photos, images, audio recordings, screeners, or video documentation: videos shot with smartphones are accepted). 

Application Process

Email this completed application form and all supporting materials to Launch Festival SCA Production Manager Jamie Sweeney at no later than Tuesday, May 1st, 2018 at midnight.

In the subject line of your email, please include the word “Application”, followed by your name, the discipline you are submitting for, and the title of your work.

  • Example: Application: Dance, Josephine Smith, “Dusk”
  • Example: Application: Interdisciplinary, Xueling Zhang, “Heights”

Please submit finalized written materials and images. If you are selected to be part of LAUNCH 2018, the information you submit will be used to promote your work

Note: In case your work is selected, you are giving permission for your application and its supporting materials to be retained for archival purposes and part of it to be used for promotional purposes by SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs, 149 Arts Society, and SFU School for the Contemporary Arts. Due to their spatiality or scale of complexity, some projects may not be supported by Launch. In such instances, given the festival's resources, curatorial discretion will be applied.

For your application to be considered, it must be received by Tuesday, May 1th, 2018 at midnight. Please answer all questions clearly and submit all required materials. All applicants will be notified of the final jury decision the week of May 15, 2018.

Posted on 27 Feb 2018 in

Company 605

The SCA's Iris Garland Guest artist this semester is Vancouver's own Company 605. Artistic Directors Josh Martin and Lisa Gelley-Martin have been working with the SCA's dance and theatre areas on a large-scale, collaborative production, Topofilia, which will premiere March 20. Find out more here.

The Iris Garland Dance Program Enhancement Fund was established by James Felter in memory of Iris Garland, professor of dance and founding member of the School for the Contemporary Arts. The fund was developed to bring national and internationally recognized dance artists to the area to work with the dance students in the SCA. We are extremely grateful to James Felter for his continued generous contribution to the School for the Contemporary Arts. Other Iris Garland Artists have included: KT Neihoff (Seattle), Serge Bennathan (Vancouver), Mark Haim (Seattle), Colin Conner (New York), Helen Blackburn (Montreal), Mui Cheuk-Yin (Hong Kong), and Yossi Berg and Oded Graf (Israel).

Company 605 is a Vancouver-based dance company dedicated to producing new dance work through a shared creative process. As part of a generation of creators inspired by the exchange between urban and contemporary dance, Company 605 places emphasis on movement innovation and physically demanding works, valuing collaboration as an essential tool for new directions in the form. With the group’s extreme versatility, the collective creates by using one another as the canvas for their ideas and visions, and invites guest choreographers to make new work with the company. Through constant collaboration with all involved artists and performers, Company 605 continues to push into new territories and awaken a fresh and exciting aesthetic, together building a highly athletic art form, with extreme physicality derived from the human experience.

Posted on 07 Feb 2018 in

Sasha Ivanochko’s new work

SCA MFA Graduate Sasha Ivanochko has been announced as the new Artistic Director of Dancers’ Studio West in Calgary. Here's their announcement in full:

After an extensive 4-month national search by the Board of Directors, Dancers’ Studio West (DSW) announces Sasha Ivanochko as its new Artistic Director, commencing August 2018. Outgoing Artistic Director Davida Monk will complete her tenure in July 2018, following the 2018 Dance Action Lab. Ivanochko, Artistic Director of Ivanochko et cie-projets de performance (Montréal) and who is currently teaching at the University of Calgary and the School of Alberta Ballet, brings a wealth of experience and artistic vision to the role. Her critically acclaimed choreography has toured internationally to renowned festivals and presentations including the International Theatre Festival of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), Fluid Festival (Calgary), The Canada Dance Festival (Ottawa), DanceWorks (Toronto), 2007 IETM (Montréal) and the visiBIe Arts Festival (Los Angeles). Ivanochko will lead Dancers’ Studio West’s 37th Annual Alberta Dance Festival & Creative Intensive (as programed by Monk) to take place in August/September 2018.

Sasha Ivanochko said “It is with honour and humility that I take up the artistic leadership of Dancers’ Studio West. I’m inspired by the direction the organization has taken in recent years in providing Alberta dance artists with programs in training, creation and performance. I’m looking forward to connecting with artists and collaborating with DSW’s staff and Board of Directors in furthering our mission to provide quality experiences
and resources for artists at every stage of career. I cannot wait to get started!”

Dancers’ Studio West Board President Megan Ballard said “We are delighted that Sasha Ivanochko will succeed Davida Monk, who has led Dancers’ Studio West so adeptly over the last ten years. Sasha impressed the Search Committee with her depth of experience as a mentor, teacher, choreographer and performer, and her passion for developing and inspiring contemporary dancers and choreographers. The Board looks forward to working with Sasha in this next exciting phase of Dancers’ Studio West’s development.”

Congratulations, Sasha!

Posted on 26 Jan 2018 in

Dancers Dancing: Confabulation

The SCA's Judith Garay's Dancers Dancing company is presenting a new work, Confabulation, at this year's Vancouver International Dance Festival, which runs from March 1 to 24, 2018. Choreographed by Judith Garay and performed by Jane Osborne, Bevin Poole, and Garay herself, Confabulation "is inspired by memory including: long term memory; immediate memory; false memory; imagined memory; dream memory; and memoirs including the books Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee and The Old Woman and the City by Vivian Gornick." Confabulation runs from from Thurs, March 7 to 9, at 7pm at the Roundhouse Exhibition Hall, and is one of the "free with VIDF membership" performances that the Festival regularly includes as part of its yearly program of events. Click here for all the details.

Posted on 19 Jan 2018 in

SCA Visual Art Student Union’s annual Seattle Trip

Every year the SCA's Visual Art Student Union (VASU) facilitates its annual 'January Seattle Trip,' inviting students from across the SCA to visit galleries in our closest major American city neighbour. Organized this year by Phoebe Huang and Joni Cheung, students visited the Henry Art Gallery and the Seattle Art Museum, including the SAM's Olympic Sculpture Park, participating in tours lead by curators Nina Bozicnik at the Henry and Catharina Manchanda at the SAM. The January Seattle Trip is one of the most anticipated class activities for Visual Art students (and not only Visual Art students) and faculty. The Henry and the SAM are both large, active galleries with busy exhibition schedules, often featuring work by significant contemporary and modern artists. The trip also provides a valuable and rewarding opportunity for students to interact and connect with each other outside of the classroom, offering a less formal chance to network and engage in active discussions, which ultimately feed back into their ongoing studio and academic studies and explorations.

Photos: Ivan So.

Posted on 19 Jan 2018 in

Diana Bartosh and the Ridiculous Darkness

Chelsea Hunter, the SCA's Professional Development Coordinator, has alerted us to a great 'blog entry' by SCA student Diana Bartosh on the Contemporary Arts CO-OP section of SFU's Our Learning Community website. Diana interned last semeter with Vancouver's Alley Theatre, working as the Assistant Stage Manager for their production of Ridiculous Darkness, which they describe as "Alley Theatre’s largest endeavour to date." We like Diana's account of her internship so much, we've decided to copy it here, too. Read on...

Wandering through the Ridiculous Darkness
By: Diana Bartosh | Alley Theatre Intern

This semester, I interned as the Assistant Stage Manager for Alley Theatre’s production of Ridiculous Darkness. Alley Theatre is an award-winning Vancouver-based theatre company which strives to produce diverse, relevant, and empowering stories that are not usually told, and which seeks to engage the audience and the community in new and innovative ways.

Ridiculous Darkness was exactly the kind of ambitious and socially relevant project that Alley Theatre excels at. Adapted from a German radio play by co-producer and actor Daniel Arnold, the play attempted to determine our role in the horrors happening in the world and here in Vancouver, and, in some ways, to take responsibility for them. It involved seven local community groups, including the DTES Street Vendors Society, East Van Pow-Wow, andTheatre Terrific. The show had a cast of 46, including 6 core cast members, 38 ensemble members, and two live birds.

My job was to assist the stage manager (Anthony Liam Kearns) during rehearsals, and to manage the cast and crew backstage during shows. During the rehearsal period, I was primarily in charge of tracking props and set movements as well as actor entrances and exits; being ‘on-book’ (that is, following along in the script in case an actor forgot a line); preparing the set and props for whichever scene or act we were rehearsing; and, most glamorously, making coffee. During the show, I led my stagehands in pre-setting props and set in the appropriate places; moving them when they needed to be moved; cueing cast entrances; and generally managing the 46-person cast backstage. I was also responsible for quickly and discreetly finding a way to fix anything that went wrong – for example, if a shin light was kicked by a cast member; if a curtain clip covering an entrance came undone; or if we had to switch birds at the very last minute, right before the cue to enter – all of which happened during the show run. In sum – while the stage manager made sure that the show was technically perfect, and the actors made sure it was emotionally perfect, I made sure that it was logistically perfect – and together we created a fantastic, immersive experience for the audience.

One of the things I learned about myself from this semester is that I never want to keep this kind of schedule again. The show itself was amazing, and was surprisingly not stressful – my production team and my stage manager were great at keeping everything on schedule and creating a supportive and calm atmosphere. What made the process difficult for me was that I was also taking a 400-level history class and a 300-level sociology class, both of which were very reading- and writing-intensive. I was also trying to pick up whatever work shifts I could fit into my rehearsal schedule. However, this meant that I had no time to cook, exercise, relax, clean, read, see my friends, or go out for most of this semester. I sincerely enjoyed everything that I was doing – my classes were interesting, the show was great, and I like my work – but I was also exhausted and not taking proper care of my mental health. My wish-list for the end of the semester was to sleep for a week, clean my bathroom, and see my friends – in that order… and when ‘clean your bathroom’ makes your wish-list (ahead of seeing friends, to boot), you gotta reconsider your life choices a little.

Ultimately, this internship fit perfectly with my learning objectives at this point in my career, and has paved the path for scale-jumping in the future. Although I have been stage managing for several years now, I have never worked on a project of this magnitude. Thus, I filled in some gaps in my practical experience, developed new professional relationships, and learned where my work/life balance needs to lie. I also reinforced my desire to be a professional stage manager following graduation. Following some insightful conversations with my production team, my new plan is to spend the next year working as much as possible as a stage manager and technician, and to reevaluate again next December to see how far I’ve come and how happy I am in this industry.

The more projects I work on, and the more time I spend talking to other people in this industry, the more apparent it becomes that there is no single path to success in theatre. Everyone comes from a different background. Some went to school for years; others never went to school at all; and many, like myself, went to school for something entirely different. Sometimes people leave the industry and never come back; other times they return, years later, with an entirely new creative perspective. What matters is finding a lifestyle and a community that works for you and that makes you happy. For myself especially, as someone living with a mental illness, comparing myself to others or attempting to find the ‘right path’ is counterproductive. What I need to do is use experiences like this one to grow my theatre family, learn my strengths and weaknesses, and continually reevaluate how I feel so that I can find a fulfilling and comfortable lifestyle that works for me.

For more about the excellent Alley Theatre, we posted an interview Chesea did with Daniel Arnold and Marisa Emma Smith from the company earlier. Read it here.

If you're interested in an intership through the SCA, read more about it here.