Thursday, Sept 25 | 6:30-9:00pm

NIGHT VERGE: POETRY-FILM-MUSIC-DANCE

Block Hall, Neufeld Science Centre

“Shaping a World Already Made:” Landscape and Poetry on the Canadian Prairies

Carl Tracie

The challenges of interdisciplinary research are many, particularly when the disciplines are as apparently disparate as geography and poetry. The rewards, however, are also many. In the past thirty years, geographers have turned to the humanities—particularly literature and landscape painting—as sources for the artistic and emotional bonds between people and their environments. Poetry has been the poor cousin of the novel in such forays, and it is the purpose of this paper to illustrate the rich resources of poetry in understanding the full range of human-landscape interactions on the prairies of western Canada. Its focus is on the influence of the prairie landscape on the poetry arising from that region, particularly as these interactions involve paradox and mystery, and on the challenge of combining scientific and artistic perspectives on landscape.  Excerpts from the work of prairie poets, including Aboriginal poets. will illustrate these interactions.

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Carl Tracie is Emeritus Professor of Geography, Trinity Western University, and has had a life-long interest in the prairie region and its literature.

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Re-envisioning Performance Boundaries: Poetry and the Experiential

Farrah O'Shea

Music is the audible expression of human experience. While discussion of impressions and reactions to pieces is not uncommon both inside and outside of academia, conversations regarding the experiential side of performing leave much to be explored. Experiential and phenomenological studies of performance place the performer in the unique situation of researcher and researched. This presentation explores poetry’s capacity to illuminate a performer’s unique phenomenological experience with a musical work. Through use of my own poetry, I foreground the experiential in my performance of Kaija Saariaho’s “Vent Nocturne,” and in doing so, bring an inherent and frequently overlooked perspective to the surface. As an analytical tool, poetry allows access to the rich inner world of the experiential, where meaning in all art is born and the essence of human life is expressed. Through this explicit connection to the experiential, a greater number of opportunities arise for meaningful connection to art, notably the ability to hear and sense the music as the performer does. The poetic expression of the connection between performer and the experiential serves as a gateway for audiences to interact on a personal level with the music, inviting the development of similar or unique expressions of experience. Encouraging interaction with art challenges the parameters of traditional performance and invites a highly connectable presentation of musical art. 

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Farrah O’Shea is a violist pursuing post-graduate study at the Cleveland Institute of Music. As a performer, O’Shea is a proponent of new music and seeks out works that stretch notions of sound production and musical color and form. Her interest in exploring the far reaches of human expression has led her to study alternative methods of music analysis and musicology. She hopes to create new pathways to art through interdisciplinary study and performance that will connect wider audiences with richly fulfilling cultural experiences. O’Shea’s mentors include violist Lynne Ramsey, musicologist Susan McClary and music theorist Diane Urista. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Boston University and a Master of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music.

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Embodied Knowledge in Dance Improvisation – Transformation through Practice

Yves Candau

Embodied cognition emphasizes the structural coupling of mind, body and world; and characterizes cognition as situated, time-pressured and rooted in sensorimotor activity. This framework resonates with practices that originated in postmodern dance: specifically an interest in improvisation as a full fledged performance technique; and a questioning of fixed taxonomies of movements. Following these seminal ideas, my dance practice is grounded in an investigation of pedestrian and functional patterns; the incorporation of somatic techniques as generative and creative tools; and seeing movements as emergent forms – determined by and emerging from underlying structures of mind and body.

The crucial relation between thinking and moving highlighted by embodied cognition leads to the idea of dance as manifested thinking, a principle which has both aesthetic and operative potency. Improvisation is particularly relevant to such an approach as it is time-pressured. And working with it requires the development and integration of various cognitive strategies: to tame the intrinsic complexity of sensorimotor processes, and enable the performer to navigate movement possibilities in real time.

This dynamic process involves a layering of multiple timescales: years of training, months of rehearsals, all culminating into a few moments of performance. Mark Johnson’s discussion on the nature of embodied knowledge is a useful reference here. Essentially it is not subsumed to the production of facts but dynamic. As he trains and works towards a performance the improviser is not composing a score, he is composing himself – a process of neuro-plastic transformation through practice.

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Yves Candau is a professional dance artist with 17 years of experience, and also holds graduate degrees in mathematics and cognitive science. As an artist he has been invaluably nourished by past and present practices, most importantly Steve Paxton’s Material for the Spine and the Alexander Technique. His research and his artistic endeavours are deeply interwoven – a dynamic relationship which he aims to articulate. Specifically his work examines improvisation within the framework of embodied cognition, and the dancer as an experiential expert who can conduct practice-based research. He was recently awarded a SSHRC scholarship to support this research. 

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Sculpting Scenarios: A Personal Journey of Creative Research in the Production of a Feature Film

Ned Vankevich

Long form narrative films (over 90 mins. in length) are daunting. Of the thousands that are made each year, most are never completed or given public viewing and distribution. The reasons for this are varied and multiple in scope. This presentation will focus on several of the most challenging problems associated with feature filmmaking—the crafting of cogent characters, dialogue, story/scene construction, and thematics.

However, this presentation is not a mini-course in screenwriting. Rather it will explore the way the academic research can aid and abet inspiration and the creative process. It will do so by screening and analyzing a scene from a forthcoming feature film, Charon’s Toll. The producer, director, screenwriter, and editor of the film will explain and explore how an array of literary, mythic, psychological, theological, philosophic, and aesthetical “texts” and ideas converged to create a work of “chamber cinema”—an intense art house genre of film that focuses on interiorization both literally and figuratively.

Both the scene to be studied and the film as a whole explore a number of complex and challenging themes including:

  • Philosophical and psychological questions related to the end (and ends) of life.
  • Theological issues addressing the purpose of existence.
  • Ethical dilemmas centered on relational responsibilities and duties.
  • Aesthetical drives and the cost of needing to create.
  • Sexual and erotic complications within the creative process.

The film, Charon’s Toll, offers a rich mix of concepts taken from Greek myth, Platonism, Augustinian theology, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Rodinian aesthetics, and Jungian archetypes. 

It is hoped that a brief analysis of a long scene taken from the film can shed light on both the creative process and the perplexing conundrums that enwrap our mortality and immortality. 

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Ned Vankevich is an Associate Professor in the Department of Media + Communication and member of the School of Arts, Media + Culture at Trinity Western University.

Ned is an award-winning film and television Producer-Director who has made over 100 commercials, several documentaries, and a variety of short films and has taught acting for camera, screenwriting, film directing, editing, and film studies courses at a variety of academic and professional schools. 

He has also made several short films in the experimental-philosophic mode and is currently in post-production on his first feature film, “Charon’s Toll” which he produced, wrote, directed, and edited.  

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