The A New Path to the Waterfall Finale

June 14th’s choreographed walk marked the final event of A New Path to the Waterfall.

Over the course of the year, the students in MaryAnn Persoon’s grade 6/7 class worked with six different artists, additional guest artists and the Contemporary Art Gallery at large.

The presence and practices of each of the artists, T’uy’t’tanat Cease Wyss, Elisa Ferrari, Carmen Papalia, Helen Reed and Hannah Jickling, and finally Justine A. Chambers excited the class with each project and interpretation of the intersection of art and the everyday. Themes addressing and questioning power structures, visibility, knowledge sharing and alternative sensorial methods of learning were manifested through herbariums, sound walks, visibility campaigns, soda making and choreography. These projects offered the students new pathways to learning and understanding art within the wider world.

At a pivotal moment, with some students transitioning from elementary school to high school, individual reflection on the project revealed desires to interact with their worlds’ in a new way. One student, Lola expressed that she “did something that [she] wouldn’t normally do”. Diana expressed that she felt included in each project and Ms. Persoon  expressed that by the end of the project, especially with Justine’s approach to movement based practices, there was “an acceptance and an ability to take risks” from everyone as a group. As observed by the attendance, conversation and participation at each end presentation, it seemed that the adults, parents, staff, friends and family had learnt not only from the participating artists, but from the creativity and enthusiasm of the grade 6/7 class as well.

A very big thank you to students Phoenix, Benjamin, Legend, Nala, Chloe, Marissa, Valentina, Pierre, Sean, Vanaya, Joseph, Henry, Arius, Mia, Antonio, Diana, Aisha, Elijah, Noella, Sailor, Jamal, Sylvia, Shanika, Lola, Sophie, Nyaruach and Brooklyn for their willingness to try new things, take creative risks and challenge themselves throughout the project!

Introducing the intersectors

This last session with Justine A. Chambers (and sadly the last session of A New Path to the Waterfall) was packed!

Throughout the day, the grade 6/7 class not only began designing their t-shirts for their walk, the intersectors, but also went through the fine tuning of their moves.

Using the map that Justine finalized the other week, the class combined iron on transfers, flame-patterned patches, gothic velour type faces, fabric paint and bejeweled motifs from the fabric store to create a dress code that would help set the mood for their choreographed interceptions.

Prepping costumes

Prepping t-shirts. Photography by Four Eyes Portraits

Putting the final touches on the shirts by late afternoon, the class pulled their concentration together to do a quick dress rehearsal and to suss out obstacles they might encounter such as rough terrain or wet weather.

By the time 5.30pm rolled around, classroom 203 quickly filled up with an excited audience. To boot, the weather held up and there was not a single drop of rain and the performance went off without a hitch! The intersectors slid in some improvisational, unscripted maneuvers, the shepherds kept the audience on route and at the end, the class received a warm and well deserved applause, a high note to end the last final presentation on.

 

The Interceptors in action! Photo courtesy of Four Eyes Portraits

the intersectors in action! Photography by Four Eyes Portraits

Photo courtesy of Four Eyes Portraits

Photography by Four Eyes Portraits

Photo courtesy of Four Eyes Portraits

Justine A. Chambers. Photography by Four Eyes Portraits

 

Rehearsals for ‘the intersectors’

Combing the routes from last week’s walks, Justine created a new route for the final choreography.

The class was able to test this route and plan the logistics of their moves at a few sites of interest over these past few sessions with Justine. This included the alley way from last week, the stairwell in the school, the school courtyard and the playground in Maclean Park.

Thinking through Justine’s question of ‘how do we move together?’, the class was able to put their ideas into practice and bounce ideas off each other one place at a time. Moving through what did or did not seem to work, they developed some new choreographies using parts of their bodies that they didn’t expect to use. For example, in Maclean Park, the class discovered the weight of their facial expressions in their performance. Justine pointed out that in dance, the eyes are considered a limb!

Figuring out playground tableaux

Figuring out playground tableaux

Justine’s collaborator Alanna was also able to join the rehearsals in the afternoon when they developed their stairwell dance. Alanna helped the class work through how they wanted to guide their audience back into the classroom at the end of the performance via the school’s two main stairwells. They experimented with gaining speed to run up the stairs by swinging on the stair rails.

Alanna helping out with choreographies!

Alanna helping out with choreographies!

At the end of the day, the class watched some slow-motion footage of their rehearsals and began brainstorming their custom t-shirt costumes for the performance. They wound down by reflecting on time and movement. They also voted on what they wanted to call their performance – the intersectors! Looking forward to it this Thursday the 14th!

A t-shirt design for the intersectors, image courtesy of Legend Eastman

A t-shirt design for the intersectors, image courtesy of Legend Eastman

Planning choreographed walks

This week’s session brought the class back outside to conduct field work towards their choreographed walk on June 14th. Using the maps Justine had provided them with, the class split into four different groups.

Testing each group’s route involved brainstorming actions, gestures and other surprises that they could engage their audience with on the 14th. The class thought through actions that might respond to a particular site, such as an alleyway, fence or playground and how these actions might question our expectations of that place. They also tested the duration of their walks to make sure no one would get too tuckered out along the way!

Planning the walks!

Planning the walks!

Group’s 1 and 2 carefully planned the length of time they wanted to spend at each of the site’s they chose. Group 3’s walk brought them to an alleyway and they passed back and forth ideas of how they might perform on it’s slope. Group 4 mused on staging a fake fight, making a body bridge and embodying a school of fish.

Excited to see how the next week’s choreography develops!

 

Final project with Justine A. Chambers

For the last month of the school year, Ms. Persoon’s grade 6/7 class is working with Justine A. Chambers, the final artist to participate in A New Path to the Waterfall. With a practice founded upon movement, everyday choreographies and collaborative creation, Justine’s project with the class will get everyone up and moving!

For her first session with the class, Justine introduced herself, her work and her ideas for the project. During her introductions, she also introduced two very special guests; her friend and collaborator, Alanna, and her son, Atticus. She discussed the role of choreography in our lives – how we move, how we walk, how we eat. Specifically, she asked everyone how architecture in private and public space influences how we move: are there ways that we move in these types of spaces that have been normalized? Why do we follow them?

Taking these thoughts outside, the class walked backwards, matched each other’s pace, stopped and pointed. They asked, what relationships can we make with the public?

Looking forward to more explorations of choreography and movement to come!

The last Stretch with Hannah and Helen

During the last stretch with artists Helen Reed and Hannah Jickling, the class diligently crafted their sodas from the recipes they developed from last Monday’s session in preparation for their final presentation later on in the evening. It was a busy day of pipettes, measuring utensils, soda streams, flavouring extracts and home-brew equipment that turned the class into a site of sugary, carbonated production!

Divided into groups of six, the class produced six distinct types of soda. The flavours in each type ranged from tastes of coffee with mint and citrus, watermelon with popcorn and lemon and mushroom with plum! To boot, Helen and Hannah had also turned one drawing from each of the students into a vinyl sticker to mark the soda cans.

The class also got to try out the home-brew canning equipment that Helen and Hannah had brought into school. A few technical difficulties with the calibration of the canning machine at the beginning of the day made the final canning results even sweeter. Everyone got to take two cans of their groups’ soda home and the adults helped to assemble extra cans for the evening presentation.

During the event, students Noella and Ayesha were engaging bartenders and quickly ‘sold out’ of the popcorn flavoured soda (most requested flavour) and the LemRosé (lemon and rose flavour – second most popular). The soda bar was bustling all night!

Mixing it up!

Arriving shortly after lunch this week at Strathcona, the class was eager to start their taste tests!

The focus of today’s taste inquiries revolved around sweeteners and flavours. To kick it off, Helen and Hannah facilitated a discussion around sugar. What did the class already know about the kinds of sugar they might consume on a day to day basis? Did they know how much sugar was in Coca Cola? What other ingredients are in Coca Cola, and why is the public not allowed to know? Why is the recipe for Coca Cola a secret? Together everyone discussed what they think might be in the ubiquitous drink.

This warmed the class up to their soda mixing brainstorm. Divided up into groups of 6, they made measuring tools and were given 3 extracts per group. They mixed extracts together in varying degrees of quantity (more popcorn flavour, less mint etc.) and then combined the extracts with their sweeteners (various types of sugars made into simple syrups).

Taking meticulous notes, each group finally whittled down their mixing experiments to one recipe that they would take to their final session of soda production!