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through the looking glass

Posted on by Molly Johnson

my tour with le carré des lombes has come and gone. ten cities, ten shows. time flies when you're devouring skies.

i spent two weeks on holiday but my body is still fatigued. i could easily pull a rip van winkle (she says as she wakes at 3am with the wrong time zone embedded in her body). over the course of the last month, i've been to france, belgium, germany, and the netherlands, and back and forth and back again, to find myself here, in toronto, settled for the first time in what feels like forever. i'm no [insert name of someone who tours all the time] but i've been on the go for a while now.

travel may not be synonymous with rest and relaxation, but it is one of the greater tools for learning. and though seeing your world through a new lens comes with its challenges, i continue to relish these opportunities to research, reflect, and absorb information. et voila, after five weeks in foreign and not so foreign lands, this is what i now know:

- good coffee is important to me and when i find it i feel at home.

- there is an openness and a generosity in canada that we should be very proud of and never ashamed of. sometimes when we travel we are made to feel we are wrong. i think this is bogus. i now accept it as par for the course in some cities and cultures, but i no longer give it any weight. i'm just grateful to be from a place where visitors are wanted and welcomed and encouraged to be who they are. canada is pretty rad. (the east coast of canada, even radder). we should take a cue from the europeans and be ultra confident...in our kind, polite, welcoming culture.

- this international inferiority complex pervades many areas, especially our art. i'm over it. it is not healthy or helpful to revere others and put ourselves somewhere further down the pecking order. admire and be inspired, absolutely. there is greatness out there; let it move you and drive you beyond your own expectations. but know that we are all peers travelling the same path. some people just have shinier shoes, segways, freedom to run in circles, teams of trumpeters who announce them before they arrive...etc. there are advantages and disadvantages across the board. and the fact is there is crap being made in canada, and there is crap being made in europe. so long as we go boldly, we have no reason to feel less than. art is an equal playing field, or that's what i've decided for myself.

- that said, we need to keep pushing. there are exceptional artists in this big old world. we can't applaud mediocrity, especially not in our own backyard. we need to ask ourselves to be better and demand more of each other. we need to see everything we can from within our borders and beyond. we need to be honest with each other. the best way to support our community is by asking it to grow.

- it's possible that too much bread is not good for you.

- working with people you admire and want to spend time with personally and professionally is the best. it's the ideal. choose it whenever you can.

- being a dancer is my jam. i don't know if dance is a perfect art form, if it truly translates in the way we wish as often as we wish it to, but i remain in awe of the power of this work from within. it has saved me from drowning. it has coloured everything about me. i will give myself to this magnificent beast for as long as i can.

- birds. they are always around at exactly the right times, and they are a constant reminder that what is happening around me is perfection and all i need to do is choose to enjoy it.

there is more, of course. there is always more. i think that may be the point of these adventures. to remind ourselves of the vastness of it all.

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time travel

Posted on by Molly Johnson

i am on a train. again. this time i have a waffle.

saturday night, in genk, belgium, i had the intense privilege of performing for a rather exceptional artist, and an equally exceptional friend. sabina perry and i met at the school of toronto dance theatre in 2001. we spent three years with martha and when that time came to its conclusion, with retrofitted contractions and spirals in our arsenal, she headed overseas to pursue the european experience, while i began my career in toronto.

nine years later, we are fundamentally the same. but life, work, environment, choices - these have shaped us into two distinct human beings and artists. we are no longer standing at a crossroads at the beginning of some unknown voyage, we have each taken a path that has led us to this point. and there is great beauty in these diverging points of view, these parallel points on a map. with space and time and a fresh perspective, we are able to see each other with new eyes.

about a year ago, i was lucky (thank you ontario arts council) to see sabina perform with the md kollektiv in germany. and now she has seen me in my work with le carré des lombes. as friends and colleagues, we talk a lot about our work, we are both fiercely involved in our art form, but to have this actual exchange is all too rare. and it is inspiring.

many of us come from the same place, and have similar experiences as we commence our artistic paths. and for sure, we should always look back to where we came from; our roots keep us grounded and remind us we are part of the same tree. but for me, where it really gets exciting is when we begin to veer off course, when we take right instead of left and get lost in the process. getting lost demands that we begin to understand where it is that we we really want to be, and how on earth we will get there.

i was nervous to dance for sabina, and at the same time, champing at the bit for the opportunity. i am confident in what i do; if i wasn't, i wouldn't do it. i was nervous because i wanted her to see everything. to see how i have carved my way from our beginning to our present, how i have slowly but surely found myself where i want to be. i know she felt the same when she danced for me.

it's something special, this. to look at our present by way of our past, and see how very far we've come.

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on the road

Posted on by Molly Johnson

we have been on tour for one week now. two shows in, eight to go. we have just arrived in amsterdam, our third destination.

touring is not always perfection. people are complex, travelling is hard work, dancing may be the easy part.

but it is a privilege. this is no ordinary life. we are at a great advantage. we get to share our story. art is our work, and we are privileged to bring that work to communities outside of our own. the impact of that cannot be ignored. i am privileged to dance in a park for the good people of flesherton, and to play at a grand theatre in the cultural centre of amsterdam. there is an absolute joy that i take in this pursuit.

and in the downtime, there is this. a corner in a cafe, a perfect glass of beer. a moment for myself. the barkeep beseeching me in dutch not to fall down the perilous stairs directly behind me, and me interpreting his concern as a command to pick a coaster up off of the floor. in another city, the locals gaping and the great pleasure of laughing in tandem with them when we get it all wrong. painting our tiny canvases to mark the occasion, to pass the time as we wait for what comes next. this is the sweet spot, this body of individuals, moving through this wonderful unknown.

i tell you, we are privileged.

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