photo of Susie Burpee by Omer Yukseker

photo of Susie Burpee by Omer Yukseker

New Work/Collaboration with Tedd Robinson

Work in progress funded by the Canada Council for the Arts Explore and Create.

Tedd Robinson is Artistic Director of 10 Gates Dancing - an award-winning choreographer known for his idiosyncratic and poetic works that have been critically acclaimed and performed across Canada and Europe.

Tedd and I first met in Winnipeg in the 80’s - I was a dance student and he was Artistic Director of Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers. I remember we laughed when we found out we shared a birthday, and he remembers being impressed with my dancing. Fast forward to the late 90’s, where, as a dancer at Le Groupe Dance Lab in Ottawa, I danced for the first time in Tedd’s work. I remember loving the process, full of delicious fast-twitch movement and visual theatrics. Right from the start, I understood that I had a great deal of agency as a performer within Tedd’s work. His work was interested in the person that delivered it. 

Between 1996 and 2017, I originated roles in seven of Tedd’s choreographic works. I have danced solos, duets, and group work; executed challenging technical movement and embodied wild theatrical imagery. Our artistic values are complicit: we are interested in acknowledging the moment and noticing what is actually happening in the room. We share a love for complexity of movement, and an appreciation for the collisions of visual imagery and music. 

I have always felt like a true ‘interpreter’ in Tedd’s work. He creates rich vocabulary and imagery, and gives me agency to interpret this material. I trust and answer specificity in his work and in exchange, he hands me the artistic reins within my role as interpreter. It is a sophisticated, nuanced choreographer-interpreter relationship. It is built upon shared history, time, and trust.

This past winter, when I returned to work with him on a new creation, I felt the profundity of our long-term artistic relationship as a motivating creative force. In particular, I considered the body of work I had danced of Tedd’s, and the powerful nature of that accumulated information. The memories stored over time in my mind and body seemed asking to be considered. Tedd and I agreed we perhaps had more to say together, and that potentially our relationship could provide a foundation for content that might speak to something bigger than us. I proposed to Tedd that we work together again. But rather than embarking on a traditional commission situation (starting anew, asking Tedd to make a work for me), I proposed that we begin to work from our past - specifically, through my interpretive lens on his work.