Celebrating Traditions, Embracing Impermanence: Reflections on the Teasing Gravity 2023 Tour
After a three year-long tour hiatus, the artists of Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre embarked this April on a tour through Northern Ontario, making stops in Kirkland Lake and Deep River. Company dancer Zachary Seto reflects below on the journey and the unique joys of the tour experience. Thank you to the lovely people at Kirkland Lake Arts Council and THEOP for hosting us, and to all the beautiful audiences who attended our performances.
I sit here by my window watching the raindrops resting on the glass and the sun settling in for the day. I’ve just arrived back home, and find myself feeling the entirety of the last week…the after-show rush, the absence of waking up to the tenderness within my friends, and the northern spirit of Canada that carried our bodies across this tour.
As I recalibrate, I can recall the whistling of the trees and the movements of the crystal waters. There’s a deeper story that wants to be told about committing to this company. It is a calling, a learning, that if we are willing to listen, guides the soul home. As an artist, creator, and dancer, choosing to make the choice to commit has been an active prayer of responsibility, rest, and a dedication to dance.
Scenes from the road to Deep River. Photo by Zachary Seto.
It requires the full autonomy of the kinetic human body and asks one to travel timelines all through the 4 walls of 509 Dance in order to bring the repertoire to life. The training, endless hours, and meeting of bodies on the dance floor, all of it becomes part of the journey we celebrate when we go on tour. This was a truly special tour as it was the first one following the worldwide pandemic, allowing the continuation of the company’s 40 years of lasting tradition. We, the 2023 artists, had an undying sense of wonder brewing within us. Our visions of the stage, lights, and the people we would meet there, in both Kirkland Lake and Deep River were calling our names. Stewarded by Deborah Lundmark, Michael deConinck Smith and mentored by Steph Harkness, we were all held on solid ground by their everlasting support.
And so we danced. Performing a potent mixed program including works by Hanna Kiel, Jennifer Archibald, Charles Moulton, Nicole Caruana, and Rodney Diverlus, our one communal voice as a family emerged and radiated through the theaters.
Our time away weaved such honour for one another and birthed a bond that danced to its own rhythm. We were gifted with a sense of reverence and victory that united us. It was with this, each of us was able to move through the mystery of the dance floor and soak up all it had to offer. Moving on such a rich timetable, we had our moments of needed space where we were all able to find the pockets of time that supported our vessels. I felt there was beauty in knowing when stillness or laughter was calling.
When I step onto the stage, connect in the studios, and dance in spaces so unknown, what grounds me is the lineage of this company. I can feel all our voices, the last 40 years of history smiling bright in the palm of our hands and soles of our feet. With every step, pattern, and rhythm we ride, I can hear the Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre speak to me.
I write to reflect on this and express my deepest inhalation and imagination to this year's company. I can still hear your spirits in those halls, remember the warmth imprinted in my heart, and feel the touch of your kindness and the points of connection we created on those sacred lands. There is something so special in becoming inspired by the impermanence of our experiences.
Since arriving home, I find myself moving to the beat of our hearts and finding solace in the memories we made.
Thank you to my dance family for journeying with me. Thank you, Michael, Deborah & Steph for your unwavering advocacy, leadership, love, and support. Thank you to the building, 509 Dance for holding a sacred grid for every generation that has moved through these floors and gone on to create such beauty in this world.
May we continue to honour and build from here.
Zachary Nolan Seto