CELEBRATING 30 YEARS OF JAZZ IN CALGARY
This year, Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (DJD) celebrates its 30th anniversary season in Calgary. The milestone will be celebrated with Dancers in Love, a performance that will include selected excerpts from past productions since the studio was founded in 1984. BeatRoute spoke with Kimberley Cooper, who is wrapping up her first year as artistic director, about honouring the past while looking forward to the future.
BeatRoute: This is DJD’s 30th Anniversary Season, so it only seems fitting to close with a selection of excerpts from past productions. What are some of your favourite performances that will be included in Dancers in Love, and why are they your favourites?
Kimberley Cooper: DJD is a creation-based company, which means we are creating new work all of the time. There is so much great work in our repertoire and some of it has been remounted, but so much hasn’t. For this performance, I really wanted to focus on the work of the founding Artistic Director, Vicki Adams Willis; pieces that have mostly only been seen when they were premiered; and I wanted lots of duets. The work that has been chosen is really dynamic and diverse, and there is a lot of humour.
BR: For audiences who are perhaps unfamiliar with jazz dance or DJD, what kind of experience can they expect at one of your performances?
KC: Jazz dance has a kind of a sordid history; we have always had a mandate to celebrate what we feel are the lost elements of the form and continue the evolution of it. Every show is different, but there are common elements. For example, we dance to jazz music and music from the family of jazz, the music is often live (Dancers in Love has a five-piece band), our dancers are celebrated as individuals, we appreciate groove – you can often see the audience head bobbing or foot tapping. I once watched an audience member air drum through an entire show. Someone once called us “music for the eyes,” and they were right. Expect high energy, grounded, physical, visual music.
BR: What does the future hold for DJD?
KC: Possibility. It is such an exciting time for us with our new building [the Decidedly Jazz Dance Centre, opening on 12th Ave. in Fall 2015], we will have so much more space! We believe dance is essential to a healthy culture and that everyone should have access to it… We want our new building to be a hub for the community.
Dancers in Love runs from March 28 to April 6 at Theatre Junction GRAND (Calgary).
By Sara Elizabeth Taylor
Video still: Retrieved from Decidedly Jazz Danceworks