…and again, until we get it by Kate Story and Melissa Webster
In the case of …and again, until we get it the over-used word groundbreaking is earned: it was the first instance that I know of a mixed ability dance created in Peterborough, certainly in a professional context. Kate Story choreographed it with the performers, Melissa Webster and Kevin Fitzmaurice – music was by Charlie Glasspool – and recalls how it came together:
“We created this piece when Melissa asked me if I thought we could make a piece where she didn’t use her chair at all, and then deliberately brought it out at the end for the curtain call. As I recall, Melissa wanted to see if people might not “read” her as disabled until that curtain call. We performed it in Peterborough – and then in Toronto, as part of the fringe Festival of Independent Dance (with Ryan Kerr replacing Kevin Fitzmaurice). Globe and Mail dance critic Paula Citron tagged it as one of the “best of the rest” in her festival review, saying, “… a fascinating duet for a disabled woman and an able-bodied man where the power between the two keeps shifting.” (Globe and Mail, August 23, 2005) It worked!
I remember in Toronto that one woman who worked as a physical therapist told me it transformed how she saw her clients, and made her realize her prejudices about who can dance. She told me that throughout the piece she thought, ‘Oh, that’s interesting, the way they’ve decided that the female dancer should hold her hands as if she has a spinal injury.’ Then at the curtain call she realized what she’d done there…Very powerful.”
The professional context in which the work was presented was a unique program called From The Floor, put together by a collective of Peterborough dance artists with the aim of showcasing their individual and group talents, as well as promoting local dance culture in all its forms*. Along with Kate the members were Allyson Booth, Barbara Dametto, Anna Gartshore, michael hermiston, Kristine Keating, and Anne Ryan. The centerpiece of the program was a new work commissioned by the collective from Bill James, a nationally renowned choreographer who had recently moved to Peterborough. Click on the program link above to get an informative read about the rest of the program and the artists’ bios.
*To see the full scale of the collective’s ambitions go to the archived web site for From the Floor here and then at the bottom of the page click on the link for PETERBOROUGH DANCES MARCH 2005.