By Danielle Wensley
VANCOUVER – Katie Duck is a pioneer of improvisation. The improvisational dancer, choreographer and teacher started gaining momentum from the moment she emerged on the European dance scene in the early ’70s. Duck fled from America in her twenties, feeling a disconnection from this culture as a woman, and is about to return to Vancouver for the first time in 30 years. “I am European,” she proclaims, “without a since or a need to return.”
Through working with musicians, Duck began to identify an interest in composition and improvisation as a means to express her research. The improvisational scores that she creates facilitate spaces for music, dance and text to emerge and intervene with audiences and each other. Duck describes her process as “tight research towards loose performance,” resulting in a clear and functional architecture for spontaneous discovery to occur within.
She is set to rattle Vancouver’s cultural core from September 23 to 30, offering an array of workshops and performances set within some of Vancouver’s most eclectic venues. These sites—Gold Saucer Studios, China Cloud, Roundhouse Community Centre and Scotiabank Dance Centre— are indicative of the impact of Duck’s oeuvre, emphasizing a constellation made up of points in music, dance, community arts and education. Duck dawns from Amsterdam and her presence in the city is bound to bring together an array of Vancouver’s most acutely creative minds.
On September 28 at the Scotiabank Dance Centre, Duck’s CAGE will take place. This complex work has been presented worldwide and is meant to be adapted in collaboration with local artists. In Vancouver she will be joined by musicians Ben Brown, Roxanne Nesbitt and James Meager. Brown has been studying with Duck throughout the past four years in Amsterdam and admits, “I have probably learned as many valuable lessons about music from Katie as all my music school years combined.” He is the reason for Duck’s visit to Vancouver and will be one of the first male artists to engage with CAGE.
“Katie’s work is not exclusive or alienating, it’s unabashedly human, and this draws people in because we can all relate to the beauty and absurdity of being human if we’re receptive to the experience.” CAGE is meant to evoke the myriad ways through which we are caged as humans, laying out four distinct themes—the institutionalization of everything, the loss of love, the need to face the anatomic perfection of what the vagina actually is, and the use of death as a tactic for fear—to be considered, embodied, confronted or ignored.
Let your intrigue guide you into the improvisational spaces that Duck will facilitate while she is in Vancouver.
Catch Katie Duck September 23 in workshop with All Bodies Dance at the Roundhouse Community Centre, September 25 performing with Sawdust Collector at Gold Saucer Studios, September 26 performing with Invisible Taste at China Cloud and on September 28 for CAGE at the Scotiabank Dance Centre.