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The Peggy Baker Phase Space production is  astonishing and the vibrotactile chairs are right there with her!

Check out the last paragraph for review.

Peggy Baker’s Phase Space

By // Theatre (Toronto)

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Sahara Morimoto & Ric Brown (Photo by Jeremy Mimnagh)

Acclaimed icon and synonym for Canadian modern dance, Peggy Baker, lights up the Betty Oliphant stage yet again with her newest work, Phase Space. The concept for the piece is intriguing— looking at how memory belongs in space and time, and exploring the place of memory within the body. We have all heard the term ‘muscle memory’, and Mrs. Baker has drawn on this in her choreography. The four individual pieces in this full-length show are comprised of reworkings of steps deeply ingrained in the dancers’ physicality from past works with the company. They are in charge of “excavating memories” with their bodies. As a dancer, I was so excited to hear this idea explained in the pre-show talk, as I can even now recall movements and feelings of dances from my youth, such the steps I performed in my first-ever modern dance, set to ‘Sledgehammer’ by Peter Gabriel.

True to style, there are so many more aspects to this performance than dance alone. The audience is nudged to pay specific attention to the lighting, design by Marc Parent, and it truly becomes an extra character in the space. The creative use of lighting, from harsh to warm, geometric to flooding, completely changes the mood of each piece as they develop. The musical score, as well, is intensely unique. Fides Krucker had joined the company in rehearsal and helped develop a vocal score for the dancers. Having seen vocalizations and text used in dance to varying degrees of success, I was blown away with the work created for the Peggy Baker Dance Company. The dancers’ voices are amplified with such finesse, that sometimes it is unclear who was generating a certain noise, and the sound scatters so interestingly throughout the space. I often find that vocalization speaks deeply to an audience, and Fides Krucker understands this explicitly, developing a soundscape that at once draws you in, makes you uncomfortable, and speaks to you on a personal level. The final layer of Phase Space is the music, performed live onstage and improved each night by John Kameel Farah. Specifically designed to be generated electronically and expelled through wires and speakers, Farah’s sound complements the dancers’ work, and its nature of improvisation makes aligned moments special and wonderful. Although I found the music at times too dissonant and not especially relatable (coming from someone who does enjoy electronic music), I understand and respect the work. Farah’s space onstage, above the dancers, was an interesting way to show his inclusion and mandatory presence to the performance’s makeup.

The dancers for the evening, Ric Brown, Sarah Fregeau, Sahara Morimoto, Andrea Nann, and Kate Holden, were all spectacular. What else is to be expected of Peggy Baker’s dancers, let’s be honest. I found myself at times, though, distracted from their incredible skills due to the immensity of other aspects in the performance. I would be lost in thought and passive watching, and suddenly be taken with how beautiful each dancer is, how unique, how fluid and sinewy and just plain magical. The articulation of hands, hips, and ankles all blow me away and the years of dedication and study are evident in each body on the stage. The moments of stillness in each piece were equally as wonderful as the movements. The intention is so clear within each dancer, and their eyes just blaze with passion, depth, and vulnerability. There are endless images that are evoked in combination of movement and vocal soundscape, from chittering squirrels and giggling children, to animal rage, and cooing, sobbing sirens on the sea. Not only was I impressed with the individual skills, but also with the way all participants came together and interacted to create what really feels like something significant on that stage.

Finally, I want to address an aspect of the performance that I was not aware of coming in, but that is such a fantastic development for all genres of live theatre. The first row of the Betty Oliphant Theatre is rigged with interesting chairs— Tactile Audio Relative Dimension in Sound seats, or vibrotactile chairs for the deaf or hard of hearing. These chairs are implanted with speakers that are connected to the electronic music of the performance, allowing participants to feel the music with their skin. Hearing Peggy Baker talk about these chairs and the opportunities they present is so exciting, and she gets flushed with enthusiasm. More information on the mechanism of the chairs and the creators can be found here. Phase Space brings together wonderful aspects of the senses, and is a truly thrilling and intellectually complex performance to see. I am excited to see how the company expands from here, and am grateful for an evening of complex thought.

Phase Space is playing at the Betty Oliphant Theatre January 22-24 & 27-31.

 

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six extraordinary dancers excavate embodied memory
a surreal and elegant fusion of contemporary dance and live music

Tactile Audio Displays and VibraFusionLab are pleased to have been invited to install 4 vibrotactile chairs in the Betty Oliphant Theatre, Toronto, for this remarkable production.

January 22-24 & 27-31
Wed – Sat 8:30pm, Sun 4pm
Pre-show chat with Peggy Baker
30 minutes prior to each performance

Betty Oliphant Theatre
404 Jarvis Street, Toronto

Tickets:$28, $23 (seniors, CADA, students)

For each performance of Phase Space we are installing four TAD-TARDIS  (Tactile Audio Relative Dimension In Sound) seats by Tactile Audio Displays with the help of VibraFusionLab. The TAD-TARDIS  is an eight channel tactile sound system for the body. Feel the music improvised live by John Kameel Farah while watching our six extraordinary dancers!

If you are Deaf or hard-of-hearing, book one of these four seats today using the promotional code VIBE20 for $20 tickets! Following the performance, we will contact you for feedback, because we would love to know about your experience!

Watch an example of one of these systems on the video link below.

A new full-evening work by acclaimed Canadian dance artist, Peggy Baker (Audience Choice for Best Choreographer, NOW Magazine 2014 and 2015) Phase Space extracts fragments from across the impressive spectrum of Baker’s repertoire, and then expands, compresses, and reassembles those fragments to create thoroughly new and unique dances, in which actions that were originally unrelated fold in on one another in striking, startling, and fascinating ways.

created by choreographer: Peggy Baker
music: John Kameel Farah
vocalography: Fides Krucker
lighting: Marc Parent
dancers: Ric Brown, Sarah Fregeau, Kate Holden, Sean Ling, Sahara Morimoto, Andrea Nann

“…there are certain elements one expects in a Peggy Baker show. Wall-to-wall movement executed by top-of-the-line dancers. Music of substance. Dance pieces whose themes run deep. The overall productions buffed to a high gloss. In other words, Baker is a class act.”                                       – Paula Citron, The Globe and Mail

 

 

Orchestra of the Tactile was an innovative audio/tactile experimental concert presenting new compositions and works exploring tactile or vibratory modalities of sound and music by media artists Marla Hlady, Gordon Monahan, David Bobier, and Alison O’Daniel. It took place at the Music Gallery in Toronto, Ontario on April 23, 2015.

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Through the project, InterAccess along with the VibraFusionLab explored creative means of sensitizing audiences to new perceptual registers between vibration and sound – literally through their skin. InterAccess expanded this engagement to be open to hearing-abled, deaf and hard of hearing audiences alike. The ambition was to expand the already interdisciplinary field of experimental sound and music to include the vibrotactile forms and aesthetics. The motivation for forming this event as an “orchestra” was to offer an open and stretchable concept for the artists to work from, to take the form of an orchestra as a laboratory space that allows the alteration of materials and processes throughout.

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A number of diverse tactile systems were set up at the Music gallery to offer a fully accessible and complimentary vibrational experience of the entire audio visual presentation. Monahan invited us into his magical world of invention through the innovation of seeing, hearing and feeling the heating up and boiling of water particles; Hlady presented the opportunity of feeling the manipulation of sound distortion through a variable-speed rotating microphone and her signature technical craft; through heightened colour and carefully emphasized sounds O’Daniel intensified her film presentation to provide the unique additional emphasis of the vibratactile; Bobier’s ‘faux’ projection/sound instruments, through the employment of programmable music boxes, ‘punchable’ music score strips and LED helmet lights, transformed braille script into modes of vibration, visualization and sound.

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Photos by Stefan A. Rose

 

The first week of February at VibraFusionLab was a very active and exciting week with Artists-In-Residence Marla Hlady and Gordon Monahan creating new works in preparation for the upcoming Orchestra of the Tactile performance. Alison O’Daniel, from Los Angeles, joined us later in the week in preparation for the performance as well.

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Photos by Stefan A. Rose

From November 2 to the 7 VibraFusionLab hosted Isabella Stefanescu and Klaus Engel and their Euphonopen project.

The residency provided the opportunity for other artists to experiment with the innovative technology. Here, Pamela Haasen and Jaclyn Blumas manipulate recordings of their own voices with the use of the pen by varying direction, pressure, speed and program controls.

Above videos by David Bobier

The outcome of the residency was presented as a premiere performance at Museum London as part of WordsFest London 2015 on the evening of November 7.

Video documentation by Stefan A. Rose

On November 7, 2015, as part of WORDS Festival, VibraFusionLab sponsored the performance of ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Children of All Ages’ at Museum London. The first of it’s kind and the premiere of this performance, it featured the Euphonopen technology and presented Kitchener artist Isabella Stefanescu, software designer Klaus Engel and Hamilton poet Amanda Jernigan. This co-production marked the first time that we are aware of, that a public performance encompassed the technology of a sound-activating digital drawing also activated an additional sensory experience of the vibrotactile.

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Our next exciting visiting artist is Moe Clark from Montreal.

Moe Clark is a renowned multidisciplinary Métis artist, looping pedal mistress, spoken word poet, educator, artistic producer, public speaker, activist……and our next exciting visiting artist at VibraFusionLab.

Moe facilitates writing, spoken word performance, and looping pedal workshops in high schools, communities and with young Aboriginal peoples with a basis for de-habitualizing speech and deepening personal and collective awareness. In 2010 she was chosen as Leonard Cohen Poet in Residence (Westmount High School, 2010) and has since worked with the Quebec Writers’ Federation + The Centre for Literacy: Writers in the Community program to facilitate workshops in high schools and other facilities. Working with accessibility and inclusivity, Moe uses the microphone as a talking stick, to establish mutual respect and active listening with youth. Further to youth based workshops she facilitates professional-level workshops geared towards advancing spoken word performance, empowerment skills and vocal improvisation.

At VibraFusionLab Moe will be exploring the various vibrotactile systems we have available and will be doing a public performance at weeks end. TBA

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Full Moon Fling photos at Mont Tremblant

Among her many AWARDS

2014
Poet of Honour, Canadian Festival of Spoken Word, Victoria, BC
Banff Centre Aboriginal Vocal Intensive Scholarship, Banff, AB

2013
All The Way In Voice Master Training Scholarship with Rhiannon, California
Canada Council for the Arts Aboriginal Music Grant “Back to Where My Heart Belongs”

2012
Canada Council for the Arts Spoken Word Creation Grant “Within” Album

2011
le Prix LOJIQ for International Cultural Engagement for Bird Messengers Collaboration
Leonard Cohen Poet in Residence Award + Residency, Montreal, QC
Canada Council for the Arts Inter-Arts Grant for Bird Messengers, Montreal, QC

2009
Montréal Arts Interculturel Residency for Bird Messengers Collective, Montreal, QC.
Canada Council for the Arts Creation Grant for “Intersecting Circles” Video Poem, AB
Alberta Foundation for the Arts Project Grant for “Intersecting Circles” Video Poem, AB

2008
Canada Council for the Arts Spoken Word Creation Grant for “Circle of She” Album

2007
CBC Poetry Face Off First Place, Calgary, AB

MoeBotanical1Christine-Hamel

Concrete Poetry Mix

Presented by VibraFusionLab in collaboration with artist Isabela Stefanescu (Euphonopen) and Poet Amanda Jernigan

In conjunction with WORDS Fest,  London

November 7, 2015

12:00 to 5:00 pm

Centre Gallery, Museum London

Participants will record a poem or a fragment of a poem which will become a sample that can be manipulated in the making of a drawing or writing of the poem – a visual and aural mix tape of the original poem. With the wonder of VibraFusionLab technology the poem will also be presented as a tactile experience. Any poem goes – from nursery rhymes, to the classics, or poems that participants have created. We can watch, listen to and feel a concrete poem as it is being created.

LADIES and GENTLEMEN, BOYS and GIRLS, CHILDREN of ALL AGES

A multi-media, multi-sensory performance at WORDS Fest, London.

Presented by VIBRAFUSIONLAB

November 7, 2015

7:00 to 8:00 pm

Centre Gallery, Museum London

The performance will feature poet Amanda Jernigan performing some of her latest poems that use nursery rhymes as a point of departure. Her performance will be accompanied by live interactive projections and sound created with the Euphonopen by visual artist Isabella Stefanescu. These combined audio elements will then be channeled through VibraFusionLab’s haptic systems providing an innovative vibrotactile translation that can be experienced by the audience.

Euphonopen

The performance of a drawing contains information and expression that a finished drawing does not. The Euphonopen is an instrument that captures the complexity of mark-making movement and translates it into sound. Through the Euphonopen, drawing – as a subset of dance – becomes integrated with music and allows us to see and hear the drawing expressed in time as well as space.The Euphonopen prototype uses a Wacom tablet to digitize the movement of a person who draws. It collects data from the drawing such as speed, acceleration, inclination of the pen, position of the tip of the pen on the surface, distance traveled from the start of the drawing, direction of movement, curvature of movement, and pressure.

VibraFusionLab

The Alternative Sensory Information Display (ASID) system is the foundation of the VibraFusionLab technology. Also referred to as the Emoti-Chair, it was developed at Inclusive Media and Design Centre, and SMART Lab (Science of Music, Auditory Research and Technology Lab), Ryerson University and at Tactile Audio Display Inc., Toronto. The technology separates audio signals into discrete vibrotactile output channels (voice coils) that can be presented on the body to create a high-resolution audio tactile experience through direct connection with musical instruments, live sound and digital sound files.

Stephanescu

Isabella Stefanescu

Jernigan

Amanda Jernigan

Engel

Klaus Engel

Bobier

David Bobier

About the artists:

David Bobier is a multi-disciplinary artist with a strong connection to the Deaf and Disability Arts community. He is Founder, Director and Curator of VibraFusionLab in London, Ontario that investigates multi-sensory artistic modalities in the creation and presentation of art by and for people of all abilities. VibraFusionLab specializes in researching and implementing the considerable potential of the vibrotactile in generating artistic development and innovative research in the broader arts community. The use of this type of interactive multi-sensory approach provides those with different abilities to experience equal participation in art making and provides the potential to make various forms of artistic expression more accessible.

He is also Founder and Chair of London Ontario Media Arts Association and Secretary of the Board of Media Arts Network Ontario.

Klaus Engel (machine designer) is Staff Scientist at COM DEV Ltd. in Cambridge, Ontario. Over the past 35 years he has developed electromechanical systems for spacecraft supporting telecommunications, earth observation, and solar system exploration. His creations are represented on 800 flying spacecraft, several dozen in the Atlantic Ocean, and one inadvertently impaled into the Martian surface. More recently he has brought his craft down to earth to create or enable multimedia and kinetic art. He has collaborated on several interdisciplinary projects exhibited at Lennox Gallery in Toronto, Banff New Media Institute, Contemporary Art Forum Kitchener and Area, Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

Amanda Jernigan (poet) is a writer, scholar, and editor. Born in Kitchener and raised in rural Waterloo Region, she spent years on the east coast of Canada before returning to Ontario to begin work on a Ph.D. She is author of two books of poems (Groundwork and All the Daylight Hours — the first of these shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Award in 2012) and of a short book on the poetry of Peter Sanger; she is editor of The Essential Richard Outram and, most recently, co-editor of Earth and Heaven: An Anthology of Myth Poems. Her poems have been published in Poetry, PN Review, and The Best Canadian Poetry. Jernigan has collaborated with theatre artists in Halifax and St. John’s and, more locally, with composers James Rolfe and Michael Purves-Smith. With her husband, visual artist John Haney, she has created hand-printed pamphlets and broadsides under the imprint Gauntlet Press.

Isabella Stefanescu (visual artist) is a painter, media artist, writer and producer. She began learning to paint in her native Romania at a school for gifted children. As a teenager she came to Canada and was awarded a Descartes scholarship at the University of Waterloo, where she studied mathematics, fine arts and art history. In 2008 she completed the Telus interactive arts and entertainment residency at the Canadian Film Centre. Her work has been exhibited in public and private galleries in Canada, France, and the U.S.A. The films she wrote, produced or designed have been shown at festivals in Canada, Germany, France and Italy. Isabella Stefanescu received the K.M. Hunter award for interdisciplinary art