Here be Dragons-Non Plus Ultra performance work

January 14, 2013

How do you study embodied personal and collective memories and shape them into an innovative performance work that speaks to a wide audience?

For Henry Daniel, Associate professor of Dance and Performance Studies in the School for the Contemporary Arts, it started with a series of trips to Barcelona, Spain.

Daniel, who was born in Trinidad—the first place that Christopher Columbus discovered on his third voyage to the Americas—went to Barcelona looking for answers.

The project, based on Columbus's discovery of the new world, so far includes a number of short films, gallery installations, and two dance performances. The latest outcome is a new full length work titled Here be Dragons-Non Plus Ultra, which was presented at SFU Woodward’s in the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, January 10 - 12, 2013.

The piece featured dancers, musicians, and media artists from Barcelona and Vancouver, with music partially composed and directed by Owen Underhill, Director of the School for the Contemporary Arts. Reviews have been positive. e.g. Georgia Straight.

Daniel asked all his dancers to offer their personal narratives to start his investigation.

"You only know yourself when you encounter the other," says Daniel. "What happens when you make these physical, psychological, cultural journeys? You find the worst and the best of the human race."

His research assistant, Rakel Marin Ezpeleta, currently working on a doctorate in Performance Studies at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, describes one dance duet in the performance that depicts the colonization process.

"First he's colonizing her, as a man colonizes a woman, but as the dance develops, she's the one who has the power and colonizes him, and there's a change of power that is taking place through the duet," she says.

"We are hoping that this dance collaboration is just the start of many new cross-Atlantic voyages of discovery," says Daniel, who has formed alliances with two Spanish universities in Barcelona as well as Institut del Teatre, both wishing to form alliances with SFU through exchange of graduate students and faculty.

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