A 3 year community engaged dance project and performance with residents of
Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside with objectives to create a legacy of an ongoing dance practice
The Territory and Intent
The neighbourhood surrounding the Carnegie Community Centre and Firehall Arts Centre in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside was the location of this community engaged project. Locating the project within this community focused attention on two buildings/spaces that hold enormous symbolic resonance serving the goals of the project. The Firehall Arts Centre serves the dance community and the Carnegie Community Centre serves the residents of the area who are multicultural, mutigenerational and commonly marginalized. These two spaces lend themselves well to the creation of a symbolic discourse between communities in the language of dance. Our goal was to establish and build a network of people with leadership, skills and processes, as well as a structure of protocols and procedures that will remain after the project is complete as an ongoing dance practice. The project sought to encourage dance within this community as an ongoing and viable means of expression and self knowledge both individually and collectively.
The Carnegie/Firehall Community Project was a 3 year community engaged dance project – engaging the residents and community organizations of Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Community Participants experienced working in a “dance practice” through a series of free dance workshops, creation, rehearsal and performance processes, planning and discussion processes. This project rested upon the premise that in dancing, people embody the spirit of place, and this is experienced by the community through performance events.
The goal was to engage the people of the Downtown Eastside in processes of dance - including the professional dance community served by the Firehall, the community dancers served by Carnegie, as well as recruited groups, individuals and residents of the territory. The intention was to create a performance event that embodies the spirit of the territory, an event that could function as a metaphor for dialogue between divergent and multicultural communities. The intention was also to leave a legacy of ongoing dance practice in the community. The project was a means of “seeding” dance within a community with people who would not otherwise have an opportunity to experience this type of work or develop the skills to create and perform with this type of work. Through this effort Karen Jamieson continued to develop the “language” of community engaged dance as well has contribute to the health of the art form and the health of both the dance community and the engaged community.
The specific nature and objectives of the community’s involvement were determined by the community. The foundation of the project was a process of discovering and uncovering the place where the agendas of the key players cross - artist, cultural institution and community. This place of crossing was the foundation that supported all the activities and culminating events. Within that place of crossing lay the universality and transformative power of the project.
Work in Progress performance of Stand Your Ground 2007
Final Production performance of Stand Your Ground Act II 2008