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Space.

You know how it goes…

The search in Sudbury is not of space, but for space. Space for dance, for creation, and for training. I began the search for space in August for Branch Collective’s new Monthly Practice workshop series and hit many bumps along the way before we found our home with the Theatre Department at Thorneloe University.

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Sudbury School of Dance, 165 Pine St. | 📸: Mikaela Demers

Sudbury School of Dance, 165 Pine St. | 📸: Mikaela Demers

Sudbury School of Dance is owned and under the artistic direction of Denise Vitali, and the home of her current students, the earthdancers, and her past dancers that just will not leave her alone, that’s me. Denise generously offers her studio to myself personally and to Branch Collective in-kind for community programming whenever it is available. But of course, it is a school and runs regular programming 7 days week. This eliminated SSoD and every other dance studio in Sudbury as a potential home for our new workshop series. What to do?

I began researching a contacting other large, indoor, potentially viable spaces that could be used for dance workshops: public schools, community centres, churches, event venues. Through my research, I discovered that most of the viable public spaces (churches with available hall spaces, community centres, public school gyms) that have made an effort to be accessible to the community are fully booked! I was delighted to hear about the programming that exists in these places and the communities they are supporting, but no, there is no space for additional programming. In reaching out to event spaces, I learned that hourly rates and discounted rates for non profits are not available. Hundreds of dollars of a half or whole day rental of an event space for a two-hour workshop is not sustainable.

Luckily we established a partnership and home with the Theatre Department at Thorneloe University and are very excited to work in the Ernie Checkeris Theatre space. But our new workshop series, Monthly Practice, is not the extent of Branch Collective programming. As we create plans and budgets for future projects, space continues to come up as a roadblock. It is not only the cost of available spaces, but the fact that there is no space for the research, creation and practice of dance that is affordable and accessible to non profit collectives and artists in Sudbury.

At the same time as I am thinking about dance spaces and resources in Sudbury, an event hosting a conversation about dance space in Hamilton pops up. Initiated by Lisa Emmons of Aeris Korper and hosted by Jeremy Freiburger of Cobalt Connects, it was awesome to see an event brought forth by the community to talk about what it needs. It was also important for me to be reminded that we are often not alone in the barriers and problems we face, and we have lots to learn from one another.

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My last reflection on artists in space brings me to a studio my friend, Charlit Floriano, and 3 other artists share. To a dancer who pays for space by the hour, the idea of renting a space on a monthly basis to have for WHENEVER YOU’D LIKE IT…sounds amazing. But paying a monthly rent with your name on a lease is significantly more commitment than an hourly rental. It makes me wonder how much more we might create with access to a space on a regular basis. The collaborative sharing of a space and financial risk is something I am definitely interested in investigating moving forward.

- Mikaela

Brian Solomon on CBC The Move

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Posting this awesome video to share the voice of an influential dance artist, Brian Solomon.

Talking to Brian about our world, dance as a form, and life as an artist always results in such a genuine conversation. I find he is able to accurately assess what is going on around him and understand it in a way that is immensely encouraging moving forward. I value every time we talk.

For this reason, Brian is joining branch intensive for the second year in a row. This video hints at the presence Brian brings to every project. Come take his class this summer and catch some of the light he will shine on you. <3

Find more episodes of The Move at CBCArts