Claudia Spontaneous

A Union of Disciplines and Minds: The Body Narratives Collective and Their Upcoming Production, Dark Room

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Of collaboration and experimentation in the realm of dance, theatre, photography and science

Written by Claudia Spontaneous

On a recent cloudy fall afternoon, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Julia Carr and Meghan Goodman of the Body Narratives Collective. One part of my agenda was to gather more information about their upcoming production, Dark Room, while the other was to explore the history of these two artists and how BNC came to be.

Julia Carr and Meghan Goodman. Photo created by Body Narratives Collective

Julia Carr and Meghan Goodman. Photo created by Body Narratives Collective

When asked when they had first met, neither Carr nor Goodman could actually tell me. I found this interesting and endearing, as it seems that they had danced in and out of each other’s radars before eventually performing in the same show under different choreographers nearly a decade ago. Despite coming from very different family backgrounds – Carr being born and raised in Vancouver with family members predominantly in the “caring professions,” while Goodman grew up in Toronto within a family of artists – it was their many parallels that eventually brought them together in Vancouver.

Both women exhibited a natural inclination towards dance from a young age, but ended up exploring the scientific side of academia as they went through school; Carr obtained a degree in Biology between training at Arts Umbrella and studying dance in Ireland, while Goodman was “accepted into Engineering programs at different post-secondary institutions,” she minored in Mathematics while completing her Dance degree at SFU. So, by drawing inspiration from both art and science, these multi-talented women discovered how their deeply-rooted love for dance could be combined with other disciplines as well.

The Body Narratives Collective was originally started by Carr and another mutual friend, but Carr invited Goodman to join BNC a few years back, and it was this similarity in having diverse interests that helped them mould the collective into one with an “interdisciplinary focus.” “Meghan and I view the world through dance, first and foremost, but we’re always sort of seeking and looking for new things, or bringing in other things to dance,” Carr explains. “The sciences – the physics, and biology and chemistry – we come to these separate strands from dance and theatre, so we’re looking to get back into that inclusiveness – of drawing in other elements.”

Photo created by Body Narratives Collective

Photo created by Body Narratives Collective

A perfect example of how they’re achieving this goal is in their upcoming production, Dark Room. This performance will weave dance together with music, technology, science, storytelling, and photography. Intriguing? I thought so too. Carr explains that the concept partially spawned from an incidence where she overheard someone’s description about what a “dark room” evoked in them: claustrophobia. This perplexed her, for a dark room to her was always a “creative place for imagination” – much like a theatre. Unlike others, she doesn’t see the dark room as being “obsolete,” rather, she views it as a “treasure of skills that carries on.” Thus, through Dark Room she wants to be able “to show people some of these [photographic] processes by inviting them into the theatre,” which she hopes will “help to keep these things alive and inspire people.”

Goodman came upon the idea of integrating the art forms of photography and dance when she and her partner were travelling a few years ago and decided to experiment with long exposure photography at night. They had brought flashlights with them, since they sometimes hiked in the woods, and incorporated the lights into their shots. Goodman found it a “really neat way of creating an image with bodies and movement,” which she connected with dance. She later brought these experiments in photography into a focus group that she and Carr worked on together. Through sharing and discussion of these elements in combination, the pair and the other artists in the focus group created a piece called “Tracing Traces” which received a lot of great feedback. From this piece, the concept of Dark Room was born – photography being the main focus because, as Goodman expresses, it “allows us to see movement in new way, understand story in new way, and look at time in a new way. Whether it’s being stretched out or compressed – photographs allow us to see it.”

Photo created by Body Narratives Collective

Photo created by Body Narratives Collective

Dark Room is this dynamic duo’s first self-production as part of BNC, where they are having to market themselves more intensely, and are holding auditions for the first time. Carr sees it as “an outreach opportunity – getting the word out that we’re doing something, opening the doors, and showing [the community] that we’re open to working with people we haven’t met before.” Both say it’s been a great experience so far and has been unique because of “how many different types of people it’s collecting and drawing in.”

Goodman explains how this production has turned into “quite a big team” of people with different skill sets: “We knew we wanted to work not only with dancers, but with people with some theatre experience because we have text. But we’re also working with costumes, lighting designers, a stage manager – all the typical things – but also some not-so-typical things. We’ve got someone building us a set piece, a new media designer and a writer. It feels like we’re drawing in all these really creative people, connecting them and also having a platform for them – a container for them to share what their skills are.”

Rehearsals are in full swing, and the amalgamation of these artistic minds and their creative culmination can be experienced December 4th and 5th at the Roundhouse in Vancouver. Tickets can be purchased through Brown Paper Tickets.

Dark Room: the realm of symbols, science and memories
@ Roundhouse Community Arts & Recreation Centre
181 Roundhouse Mews, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2X1
Dec 4 & 5 7:30pm