thumb E_Catherine‘Flare’ show exposes the creative minds behind the piece

Decidedly Jazz Danceworks has put on a show bi-annually for the last decade and this year’s Flare performance is special, as it is entirely choreographed by the dancers performing in the show.

Choreographer and dancer, Dinou Marlett-Stuart says this performance is a good way for them to nurture their talent as they create pieces.

“It’s a really great opportunity to sort of expand the knowledge of the dancers within the company and take them on their path to being choreographers in the genre,” says Marlett-Stuart.

Marlett-Stuart says that the idea for Flare came from a previous performanceCatherineDecidedly Jazz Danceworks puts on its dancer choreographed show, Flare from Nov 27 – Dec 1.

Photo courtsey of Trudie Lee. called Spontaneous Combustion and artistic director, Sarisa F. De Toledo wanted this production to be the offshoots of this grand explosion.

She says it provided as the jumping off point for them to try other things.

Two other members of the production, Natasha Korney and Shayne Johnson are both performing in the piece; Korney solely as a dancer and Johnson as both a dancer and choreographer.

The members of the studio started choreographing Flare on Aug. 27. At the same time, the dancers had been working on another project called Boombox for the food festival; some of the pieces from that production will be in Flare.

Some pieces came together very quickly; one of Johnson’s pieces – which has the dancers performing as monkeys – was put together in six hours, which he says is not average for a production.

Johnson was involved in tap, jazz and ballet at five years old and trained like that until he was 18. He worked on cruise ships until he came to Decidedly Jazz Danceworks four years ago.

Marlett-Stuart also started ballet at the same age as Johnson. When Decidedly Jazz Danceworks opened when she was 11, she took up jazz. She left to England when she was 17 to go to a performance college and after that performed professionally, until she came back to the studio.

Korney’s performance background began in hip hop, she also danced in an African/Caribbean community dance group and then did a bit of ballet, as well as joining a mainstream hip-hop crew called ILLFX.

She began the pre professional program at Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, then went in to the contemporary dance program at the University of Calgary before being recruited by the studio.

In terms of difficulties with this production, Marlett-Stuart says that because it is a dancer-choreographed show, the biggest challenge is being unable to critique the piece.

“Because you don’t have the ability to split yourself into two, so all of the things you would do as a choreographer – like checking out lights, taking notes, looking at blocking -things like that, you don’t have an opportunity to see because you’re actually in the piece,” Marlett-Stuart says.

Korney says the stresses of the show stem from having to take on so many roles as being part of different pieces within Flare.

“If one idea has maybe a more somber approach and something else is happier I have a hard time switching, so that’s one big challenge for me,” She says.

Johnson agrees, “You have to wear so many hats.” He says that with all the different times of the pieces one has to “jump into so many different roles.”

Even with all this hard work, Johnson foresees a positive audience reaction. He says there is something for everyone as the show offers a lot of variety.

Marlett-Stuart agrees and says that their supporters like to see what the dancers have created for the production.

Korney is currently an apprentice this year at the studio and although they’ve already had a performance this year (Boombox show) she’s nervous, but also happy and excited, “I can’t wait to get out there.”

Marlett says that she loves being in this industry because there are so many variables and are always different things happening from the night before.

“There’s a responsibility on yourself as a performer, but also as a team, to really try and work together and make sure that you’re creating work that’s honest,” she says.

Flare will be performed at the Theatre Grand Junction on Nov. 27 – Dec. 1. For more information visit the website. 

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