Thirty Royal Bank of Canada employees will be showing off their moves this fall at the Gardiner Museum during Toronto’s all-night contemporary art event, Nuit Blanche. Together with a group of professional contemporary dancers, they will perform from sunset to sunrise on October 5, 2013 as part of my new episodic performance installation, Everyday Marvels. Developing at the intersection of professional and community-based dance creation, Everyday Marvels is inspired by a volume of poetry authored by Saskatchewan poet Lorna Crozier called The Book of Marvels: A compendium of everyday things. With contributions from eight contemporary choreographers, the quotidian objects interpreted in Corzier’s poems, such as ‘radiator’, ‘chair’, ‘flashlight’, and ‘sky’, will come to life through this durational performance piece.
The project benefits from a unique collaboration between Gardiner Museum, RBC’s Employee Volunteer Grant Program, and my company Shannon Litzenberger Contemporary Dance. Forty hours of volunteer time contributed by each RBC employee in the group amounts to a $500 contribution from RBC to the project through their Employee Volunteer Grant Program. In this case, employees from many different parts of the bank are volunteering as performers, both as singers and dancers. Some of those involved have come to the project with a desire to perform or practice dance. Others already perform regularly as members of RBC's premiere corporate glee club called The Bank Notes. Led by director Barbara Hodder, they rehearse during their lunch breaks in one of RBC’s many boardrooms and perform frequently to raise money for charities. To date, The Bank Notes have raised over $33,000 for charity, released a Christmas album and appeared on national television with Global's Canada Sings.
At 8 weeks into the project, it’s clear that the engagement with RBC has already provided much more than an opportunity to boost the project’s bottom line. It has been an inspiring process of meaningful exchange and discovery between professional artists and members of RBC’s corporate team. We rehearse weekly at a downtown RBC office tower, making it convenient for employees to participate. During our rehearsals, we practice concepts such as spatial awareness, energetic sensitivity, empathy, focus and composition. We experiment with different ways of moving and using our voices, and eventually begin to create something together. We laugh a lot.
In this mini-documentary, RBC participants offer up some first impressions about their experience in creative dance process. This is the first in a series of video blogs that will follow their experiences as they work toward their contemporary performance debut in October. It has been filmed and edited by dance artist and filmmaker, Linnea Swan.
The Everyday Marvels video blogs series has been generously supported by Culture Days and its funding partners including Canadian Heritage, Canada Council for the Arts and The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation.
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