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1313 Music Festival’s improvisation station 

Dance and music get back to their improv roots in an exciting weekend festival that urges audience participation.

click to enlarge Jerry Granelli's inspired improvisation will have you itching to get behind the kit. - GEOFFREY CREIGHTON
  • Jerry Granelli's inspired improvisation will have you itching to get behind the kit.
  • Geoffrey Creighton

No set plans for the long weekend? Maybe you should improvise and head down to the second 1313 Music Festival, a four-day event that celebrates improvisation within music and dance. Held at 1313 Hollis, this festival features musicians and dancers performing together and hosting collaborative workshops throughout the weekend.

Dancer, choreographer and artistic director of Mocean Dance Susanne Chui will perform alongside legendary percussionist Jerry Granelli and cellist Simon Fisk on Friday night, and she believes this combination of art forms has roots that run deep. "The relationship between dance and music goes way back to the first time humans began stamping their feet, clapping their hands, singing and moving from some kind of inner or outer stimuli," Chui says. "These forms pre-date language, their connection is deep and mining this connection is appealing to me."

Chui says she is a collaborator by nature and believes that working with others can often give performances a kind of synergy. "I feed off the energy and ideas of others. I enjoy translating the ideas and ways of working of other mediums into dance and vice versa. It expands the palate, so to speak," she says. "I like bringing disparate elements together to create something greater than the sum of its parts, like a collage or the moving parts in a machine."

Chui will also collaborate with the Lîla Ensemble, a Toronto-based collective of dancers and musicians. The group will be performing on Monday night along with local dancers Jacinte Armstrong, Elise Vanderborght and Rhonda Baker and musicians Geordie Haley, Doug Cameron and Tia Andriani.

Raphael Roter is both a drummer and a dancer for the Lîla Ensemble. "Music and dance impulses each take a bit of a different pathway through me as they get out, and my sensory experience is also quite different if I'm dancing or playing music. Being in the mode of one discipline or the other leads me to different choices and to new places," he says. "I'm driven by a sense of adventure in relationships, shapes, textures and feelings, and I love the opportunity to mix it up."

Such performances are commonplace for 1313 Hollis---the venue hosts a weekly workshop called the Creative Music Lab that focuses on learning the fundamentals of music through improvisation. This festival serves as a culmination of the work done throughout these workshops in the past year, but it also seeks to draw in new participants and build the 1313 Hollis community. Festival coordinator Andrew MacKelvie says that newcomers should not only expect to be entertained, but also to participate. "A big part of those workshops is actually playing. We'll be getting together and talking about the creative process and how you can create this music," says MacKelvie. "You've probably seen dance performances and improvised music, but when the two happen together it can be very exciting. People will be expected to take part."

For Granelli, the festival is not just a collaborative experience, it's also a way to develop lasting relationships. "If you think about life itself, life is totally improvised. This is a celebration of the whole acknowledgement of interconnectedness and that everything we do had to be improvised first," Granelli says. "And at the heart of it, we're trying to build a community."

1313 Music Festival
Friday, May 17 to Monday, May 20
PWYC/$10/$20 Tickets are cash only and available at the door
1313 Hollis Street

For more information and reservations call 817-1731

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