How a musical epiphany and a little trip to Italy reunited a dance company in the world of COVID-19
A music and dance video collaboration with Dr. Draw
Back in February 2020, CCDT’s Artistic Director Deborah Lundmark began choreographing a new work that was to premiere as part of the Company’s 40th Anniversary Celebration. Inspired by the dancers’ special closeness, it grew into a conversation among friends, listening to, supporting and celebrating one another – a silent exchange of things understood that is only found among those who have shared much together. When the pandemic halted this work so abruptly, and with several of the senior dancers set to move on at the end of the company’s season, this beautiful conversation would be left unfinished. Then Dr. Draw, who has worked with CCDT before, sent Lundmark his new song Acquaviva, proposing a video project. She saw an opportunity to continue the story.
His music, like my dance, grew in part from a deep appreciation of the artists we create with. The cello and violin spoke to me of loneliness that is now everywhere, but also the hope of overcoming separation. My dancers’ conversation was no longer silent. We could not be in the same room yet Acquaviva brought us together to work across this new ether in ways we could not have imagined when the New Year began so long ago. Urbanecho is our story of friendships that endure beyond physical separation.
Lundmark and CCDT Dancers collaborated over video calls, while isolated in their homes, to create the concept for Urbanecho. The dancers filmed hours of footage themselves, both choreographed and improvised. Lundmark then worked with video editor, Drew Berry, shaping the choreography by selecting video and imagery to piece together in layers.
Dr. Draw wrote the song to remind himself to slow down, feeling the effects of a frantic performing schedule. He shared:
During one 2019 summer festival performance in Toronto I caught the glimpse of my band panting as I was driving them through another 140 and plus beats per minute jam. At that point I slowed down and looped a smooth three chord riff and at the same time signalled my sax player Gord to take over and improv a melody. In effect, I felt the whole band including myself, breathe, and the audience felt it as well. That’s the story of how this song was born. However, it took shape in a little medieval Italian town in the southern Bari Region called “Acquaviva delle fonti” and that’s how it got its title. In contrast to most of my songs, this song has a lot more space.
Seeing what Deborah Lundmark and the dancers of CCDT did to the music adds depth to the composition. I love the concept of urban echoes. The movement bouncing off whatever environments that we are contained in during the quarantine. Our daily routines are somewhat similar hence the unison choreography, and at times leaving some space for individual improvisation. Those free moments represent our individuality playing out within a unit. To me, this is solidarity. ~
A music and dance video by Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre
in collaboration with Dr. Draw
Direction: Deborah Lundmark
Choreography: Deborah Lundmark with the dancers
Music: Acquaviva by Dr. Draw, produced by Acote
Rehearsal Director: Natasha Poon Woo
Editing: Drew Berry, with footage filmed by the dancers
Dancers: Claire Finlayson, Marie-Elena LeBlanc Bellissimo, Kaiya Lee, Soraya Lee Wo, Emma O'Brien, Jaedyn Richards, Uma Roberts, Sydney Runions, Joshua Vilim, and Melodie Yeung
Special thanks to dancers Paris Forbes and Lola Rose Jenkins for their invaluable contributions to the creation process of this work.