Wednesday, April 27, 2011



So, here I am. Leaving Toronto today. Writing this last short text from our favorite coffee shop, right next to our house. I will be back in June for our last Intersection Project Performance, the 10th of a series of…10! Amazing.

Ten performances, then locations, then months. And many great encounters. Do I feel like I know the city better now? Of course I do. And not only in terms of its architecture and neighborhoods. I feel that, through Intersection Project, I got to understand better the interaction people have with art and performance in general in Toronto, to understand the nature of the city through the lens of our project, and to juxtapose myself to how people live here.

When Kate and I decided to organize these monthly performances, the two of us had different hopes and expectations for the project, but one thing was sure: we both wanted to put art in public spaces and share it with unexpected audiences. “Sharing” might be the strongest and the best word to express what we were after. Along with our friend Jolyane who became our third collaborator, helping us with the logistic of this complex project, we discussed for several hours what direction the project should take.

Public spaces barely exist nowadays. We faced the reality and challenge of being a group of dancers in spaces that we thought were public, but that in the end were spaces “reserved” for someone else, for something else, or well, not for us, dancing. The idea that everything and every space belong to someone now, in the cities, often comes up and scares me.

When performing downtown Toronto with our Intersection artists, I always felt we were doing something important and relevant. However, when you look at it, we simply perform pedestrian movement scores in large group, nothing happens before, nothing happens after, we don’t advertise it, we don’t make it a spectacle, we don’t make it fancy and flashing: it happens and disappears. Of course we do gather after every performance and invite people to join us to discuss and share thoughts, and we do document the performances and post videos and photos of it. But nothing drastic happens because of it. So why do I feel this is so important? Is there any direct outcome from what we are doing?

I think it is important because it makes a difference for “me”. And that is the beginning of everything.

I am now in the train station, waiting for the 5 O’clock train. Yes, I am bringing you through my last travelling back to Montreal. Cheesy, I agree. But how exciting hmm??

When I perform with Intersection Project, I feel extremely powerful. It is one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever got out of a performance I am involved in. I feel powerful because I feel free. Free of what? Of regulations, perhaps. It gives me the feeling that I am not too small for my city, that I do have power over what happens in it and how. I feel I am someone in the city, and that I can decide for myself how I want to live in this city. It is a feeling I rarely have the rest of the time. It seems to me the city is so big and overwhelming, I always am depending on everything in it. I am not the one making decisions.

But when I am there, lying on concrete blocs in the middle of the street next to St-Lawrence market with my fellow Intersection Project performers, I feel free. Nobody forces me to be there and do this. I don’t even get paid for all that work (including admin stuff before and after the performance). Being there is a statement, it says the city belongs to me, too. Not only to business people, not only to Rob Ford, not only to the organizers of the G20. The city belongs to me too, because I live in it. It is where I am everyday.

When I am there, running up the stairs at the CN Tower before crashing onto the cold ground with 15 other people, I feel free. Because I am part of the larger landscape and it seems to me I am providing the people watching with a glimpse of what we can do with our city, if we want to. It happened often that people came to us to say they liked watching the performance because it reminds them of this or that… that in itself sounds enough for me to justify doing it.

When I am there, improvising pirouettes at Queen’s Park’s intersection, creating traffic because cars are slowing down and drivers try to see what is happening with us, 20 performers swaying from side to side and turning all around, I feel that is might be enough, just to be there and state our presence in the city.

And last month, performing with 8 courageous dancers under pouring rain at the corner of Bloor Street and Avenue Road, thinking it is pretty amazing that we are performing despite the rain. It is a statement too: people question what we are doing most of the time, because our performance does not belong to their everyday life. But when we do it under the rain, it brings up the level of questioning to a higher degree! And perhaps make them question our mental health too… well....!

In the last few months, I spent a lot of time with a group of people who call themselves “The French Connection”. They are friends of mine, and I have to admit I am totally part of this French Connection thing, as a French person myself. But what does it mean to be French in Toronto? It is a real cultural chock, even though Montreal and Toronto are in the same country. Different ways of behaving, different views on things, in general.

The reason for mentioning these friends here is because they have been one major element of Intersection Project. First, let’s mention Claudia, who is actually our third wife, our third roommate. She moved in with Kate and I last September and she got to experience Intersection Project from the inside. As a wonderful filmmaker, she would step in for videotaping Intersection’s performances every time we needed a videographer, and that meant half of the time! She did a beautiful job with images every time she came to document to work, but she also became an important component of the project through her numerous participation. We owe her a lot for her hard work, videotaping in the cold, at night for Rhubarb, and in all sorts of challenging situations!

In September, for the first performance of the year, two French friends from Montreal were in Toronto to videotape the performance and help up with the logistic of the project. For the St-Lawrence market’s performance in December, the French Connection came to see the performance. Our friend Thomas wrote a short response to the work that we posted on the Blog, explaining how he felt about such public performances, and what it meant for him as someone who is not used to participate in that kind of event. Then in February, as we performed for The Rhubarb Festival, The French Connection not only came to see the performance, but even joined the group of dancers and travelled with us in the streets of Toronto, picking up on the movement score as they could! At the closing night performance of Rhubarb, our friend Yoan who is French too but from France, made himself available to videotape the performance. Later in April, another group of French friends from Montreal came to the city and participated in the rainy day performance at Bloor and Avenue, taking on the roles of videographer and photographer for the occasion.

So by mentioning that, I don’t mean that French people are nicer than anyone else. I rather want to highlight how Intersection Project became a way to encounter the city for many of our friends coming from outside Ontario, as well as a way to gather together people from different places. Local artists taking part in the project, encountering artists from outside the city. I think it is an important aspect of Intersection Project, how it became a window to the city, an original way to envision Toronto’s neighborhoods for many foreigners among us and to meet people.

We must mention here the amazing participation of a group of Hamilton dancers, coming invariably every month to perform with us, in our city, through the urban architecture of the city. I always thought it was nice and interesting to notice that the core of our performers, the one that were there every single month came from outside the actual city of Toronto!

I think Intersection Project, among many things, became not only an encounter with art for people walking by, as we first envisioned it, but also and mostly an encounter with the city. As we performed the project from month to month, the importance of the locations we chose and the significance of the way we would invest these locations was increasing. In my souvenir, Kate and I were mostly interested in the community aspect of the project (many artists gathering every month for a common goal they have) as well as the importance of reinforcing the artists’ presence in the city (putting art in visible spaces, outside theatres). It ended up, at least for me, that our main statement was a different one, something like “The city belongs to us”, by physically putting ourselves in these urban architectures. Maybe the real nature of Intersection is a mixture of all of theses ideas.

Now, it is 5pm and I am on the train, heading to Montreal for real. But I’ll be back in June, for one more Intersection Project performance. And I am not worried anymore about the weather or anything like that, I am not concerned about getting funding for the project or not, or about getting enough performers or not. It seems clear to me now what this whole journey is about. Intersection Project is about being there, being present in the moment in a specific location, and deciding for myself what it means to be there and to do what I do.

To feel free, in my city, for a few minutes at least.
We better take all opportunities we have to feel free and powerful, don’t you think?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

PERFORMANCE #9- Bloor Street and Avenue Road

A text by Cara Spooner, Toronto dance artist

Why do we make art?
Why do we make art in public spheres?
Why is 'site' or 'context' interesting fuel for performance?

'Why' fundamentally implies the need to understand intention or to validate whatever the questioner is asking the questioned. In this case, what is it that I desire validation of? Am I interested in 'the reasons', the well-constructed and rational sets of well manicured trajectories which lead us from point A to point B? I make this so that my desired outcome can be thus achieved? Is this Why we make art? Or is it something more ephemeral that we desire in our art making, something less tidy, less clearly defined? May art point us to new curiosities to invent new questions rather than provide answers to the questions that already exist? Why not?

I am interested in the potential that making art (specifically performative, movement based art) in specific sites/contexts has to offer. I know that this is not new and I know that I am not the only one interested in this potential. My own mistakes, experiments, questions, projects and interest in 'non-conventional sites' seem to innately hold a mirror up to the very form, aesthetics, vocabularies, accessibility, power dynamics and purposes that 'performance' has been defined as. This leads me to consider the ways in which we specifically in Toronto, in Canada and in North America are responding to, reacting against, contributing to and creating art for specific sites or public spheres. Is it a choice or is it necessity? Are we creating work with 'sites' in mind until we are validated by the traditional proscenium institutions (and the interactions/processes/dynamics it inevitably brings with it?) Or are we interested in the systems, movement and structures that we have all culturally adopted? If the choice is based on necessity (funding, etc) is it not an opportunity to develop our artistic craft in integrated and insightful ways? Can we not critically look at the 'public'/'private' contexts in which we are embedded in and comment upon them symbolically, artistically and aesthetically? Are we aware in our art making of the constantly changing factors which inevitably enter into us, affect us, change us and define us at each new site we enter into?

It seems that many artists are choosing to create work in non-traditional, non-proscenium, site-specific settings. The integration and acceptance of a performance's context (the site, the people, the social codes, the politics) seems to almost create a new set of standards for the 'Why' question to unravel.

Or perhaps 'How' is of greater relevancy and a more appropriate question to ask. 'How' seems to point to form, aesthetic, vocabulary, accessibility and power. If our 'audience' in a public setting has not signed the contract of buying a ticket (and thus adopted the learned social codes associated with that action) how can we enter into an aesthetic discussion with them? How can we make and ask new questions? For me, the ability to see beyond the socialized patterns, or at the very least point to them, is the essential motivating factor for creating work in/for a particular context. Without the acknowledgement and integration of what makes a site a 'site', I cannot truly enter into a dialog there. If I create something with the expectation that I will know my outcomes, am I asking any new questions with my art making?

'How' seems to ask for description. It is a question for the qualitative, messy, step-by-step play-out of a certain thing. The practical steps to achieving the reasons listed after 'Why'. But more importantly 'How' seems to imply the desire for a solution, a question with a larger desired outcome. It seems to point to movement.

How does the 'site' or 'context' create fuel for performance?
How do we make art in public spheres?
How do we make art?

Cara Spooner

Friday, April 8, 2011

CALL FOR ARTISTS- Performance #9


dance crosses urban spaces
artists meet audiences
...ideas travel between us

Thank you to everyone who has participated in past 8 performances....... ONLY TWO left.
We want you.


Driven by the success of May 1st 2010 Public Performance in Toronto, organized in conjunction with Montreal artist Normand Marcy and Tangente, Laboratoire de Mouvement Contemporain, Priscilla Guy and Kate Nankervis have launched Intersection Project, an initiative that aims to highlight the presence ofartists in urban landscapes. Through pedestrian and simple movement vocabulary in city landscapes, the dance is accessible and belongs to anyone who is walking by. Bodies become organic sculptures against urban architectures.

The performances organized by Intersection Project are opportunities for artists and audiences to meet in unexpected and unofficial settings; a reminder performance art also lives outside theatres. Art is essential and lives everywhere we decide to allow for it. Art reflects the common needs and wants members of society share. Intersection Project is an occasion to re-iterate the spontaneous and engaging nature of art as performance emerges from urban architectures and melt with the city landscapes.

Throughout the upcoming year, Intersection Project will organize 10 monthly performances in the Toronto's downtown area, gathering dancers, actors and performers from diverse backgrounds. In the nature of spontaneity, there is no promotions or marketing for the events. We believe the recurrent aspect of the project will stimulate curiosity and interest for it.

12:45pm to 3:30pm


We are looking for performers from any artistic background to participate in this ninth performance of the year!
This performance will occur on Saturday, April 16th. We are looking for up to 25 performers.
Participants must be available from 12:45pm to 3:30pm at least.

Schedule of the Day:
12:45pm to 1:45pm-check in/rehearsal
2:00pm to 3:00pm-performance
3:00pm to 3:30pm- break/gather for reception
3:30pm to 5:30pm-reception

Performance details including the score, the arrangement, the locations for the performance and the reception will be sent ONLY TO CONFIRMED PARTICIPANTS. All locations chosen are in the downtown area (Christie to Yonge / Bloor to Queen's Quays, always accessible by bike, car and TTC)

before April 14 th, 2011.

PERFORMANCE #8 video..... thank you Claudia Hebert

Please check out our blog:


Intersection Project provides the art community and the population with a platform to share dialogue and debate the role and contribution of artists in the society at large. The Intersection Blog addresses various issues and invite performers, audiences and the greater population to share their thoughts on this virtual common forum. On the blog articles/questions are posted to initiate dialogue between performers and other followers.


There will be no PERFORMANCE in MAY! We will be doing our final PERFORMANCE#10 in June, with a HUGE closing party CELEBRATION!


Kate and Priscilla

Monday, April 4, 2011



DIMBY. What is that? Dance In My Backyard. A fantastic event produced by Lady Janitor/Eroca Nicols. It happens at the end of the summer, in a gorgeous backyard close to Dufferin Park. People sitting on colourful blankets, trees decorated with Christmas lights, a live DJ and a collection of dance pieces created or adapted for this beautiful backyard. So unexpected, so refreshing! Most people I know don’t think of Toronto as a city in which such unusual and funky things happen. People (especially the ones coming from out of the city) tend to see Toronto as this gigantic financial centre, with lights, cars, buses, noise, business people, etc. Well, we better open our minds to another version of Toronto. DIMBY has been happening in August for a few years now, and it is sold out pretty much every performance night. People just love it. And so did I…

About a week before moving in Toronto, I was performing with the DIMBY crew for the first time as a member of the Montreal-based company Les Imprudanses, invited for the occasion. Four performers from Les Imprudanses were encountering Toronto performers for the show. That, too, was a very cool way to encounter the city right before moving in: I got to dance and improvise in front of a Toronto audience with the people that would become by new Toronto dance colleagues. The following year, I worked again with Eroca on DIMBY, and performed as part of Made to Order, a crazy improvised dance piece for which audience members order the dance they want to see right before the show. The group of professional dancers gathered by Eroca improvises these dances for them the same night. Yes, it is pretty cool indeed.

I find DIMBY to be an amazing Toronto event for many reasons. It totally seduces me because of the accessible and casual setting the magic backyard offers. Really, even if you are not a huge fan of dance shows, sitting in this backyard is an experience in itself, as it totally makes you forget about the noise, buildings and craziness of the city. The architecture of a city also encompasses secret places like this backyard, in which unexpected events like DIMBY happen, where the interaction between artists and audience members are highlighted by an intimate setting. After experiencing DIMBY, I found Toronto to be a very surprising city to live in, a very hybrid place, much more nuanced than the reputation it has.

Every city should have a DIMBY. And from the media coverage DIMBY received in 2010, I could tell how Toronto needs more of this: unpretentious yet great projects that remind you there are small paradises inside the city. Maybe this is one interesting way to think of art, whether it is public art or art inside museums and theatres: a window on secret paradises, a way to reveal hidden beauty in the city, or a way to enhance what is already visible to our eye… Art is not disconnected from what we experience in our everyday life: it draws from it, merges into it and allows us to extract new meanings from it.

In PART ONE of this Toronto portrait, I wrote a little about the Toronto Dance Community Love-In. In short, the Love-In offers contemporary dancers the professional training that, they felt, was missing in the city. So every month, they bring in international artists and teachers to provide the dance milieu with a diverse and rich approach to movement and dance training. The Love-In also gathers every month for discussing all sorts of projects and ideals they wish for, from the sustainability of the art form through funding to the sharing of resources between established artists and the emerging generation of creators.

Last fall, the co-founders of the Love-In, Amanda Acorn and Eroca Nicols (yes, I seem to be talking about Eroca all the time, but often, people who are committed to their milieu are involved in several projects…) asked Kate, Meryem Alaoui, and myself to help them structure the organization and create templates for the administrative tasks related to the Love-In. My help to them ended up being very specific and limited, as I was totally overwhelmed with school (yes, I do tend to forget I am here to study full-time…), but meeting with them, trying to figure out what the organization needed and how we could make its functioning efficient, I felt I was part of something important. These ladies do meet at 7am in the morning for discussing crucial issues for their dance community!!! That is a lot of LOVE, I’d say. I believe the Love-In is establishing not only a different type of training for professional dancers than what used to be offered in the city, but also a different way to envision the dance milieu. They promote the sharing of resources, the explosion of dance genres within the contemporary field, and the power of the group. I am excited and curious to see how the Love-In will change Toronto in ten years from now… I think a city can be changed from the inside, moulded by its citizens and artists.

Of course, since I am close to the people administrating the Love-In, I do think they are great. But I also think they are part of a greater movement, part of a group of people wanting Toronto to get richer and more diverse, open and safe. As Kate and I started to do the Intersection Project performances, as the G20 shook everyone’s sense of belonging to their city, as Rob Ford got elected, I did realized many people had the desire to envision Toronto as a place where art and business can co-exist, a place where citizens are considered, a place that is created from the inside by its people. Art, or dance, is only a small seed reflecting that reality…

To come in PART THREE (and the last one!):