George Brown Dance students recently wrapped up filming for Unleashed 2021. This year’s performance will be presented virtually with four new pieces created for the screen. CBJ & GBD faculty member, Jennifer Robichaud, worked with the P101 Dance Performance Preparation class to develop a new work entitled Coping With Kanye.
Hear from her about her career and teaching with GBD, and her process in the development of her new work.
“…Coping With Kanye, explores the coping mechanisms used in the face of stress or trauma, thoughts and behaviours used to handle internal and external triggers.”
Q: Could you please introduce yourself?
A: I teach in both the Commercial and Dance Performance Programs at George Brown Dance. I am the Artistic Director of Larchaud Dance Project, a company known for highly physical and multi-disciplinary site-specific work. Outside of my work with Larchaud, I work independently as a dance artist (dancer, choreography, educator) for many different companies and artists. Most recently I have been collaborating with Jono Lawley of ELD Films under the collective ELDLDP, creating projects involving film and movement.
Q: You are on faculty at George Brown Dance. How long have you been a teacher for GBD and what do you teach?
A: This is my fourth year on faculty at George Brown Dance. I primarily teach jazz technique in the Commercial Dance program and Business Skill for Dancers to the graduating students in both the Commercial and Dance Performance programs. I’ve also had the pleasure of leading professional practice workshops where I’ve focused on conditioning and wellness for dancers.
Q: You are choreographing for Unleashed. Could you share a little of what your piece is about and what inspired it?
A: This piece, Coping With Kanye, explores the coping mechanisms used in the face of stress or trauma, thoughts and behaviours used to handle internal and external triggers. I came in to the studio with a very broad base to work from – perceptions vs. reality. As we began to delve into creation and I began to speak to the dancers about their thoughts, personal experiences, ad their innate responses, I realized that all of our discussions came down to coping. These coping mechanisms (both positive and negative), shed light on how we deal, avoid, manipulate or endure life circumstances, on a personal, communal, and global level.
Q: This year, choreographers are working in a hybrid process with some rehearsals held in the studio and others held virtually. What is your creation process typically like? Has it changed for the hybrid process?
A: I work very collaboratively. At first, I thought that the hybrid process (creation in both the studio and online) would inhibit this approach. I was proven wrong. Realizing that group choreography would be less productive online, I took the virtual time to connect with dancers one-on-one. This process allowed me to connect with students on a very personal level. I was very humbled by their honesty, vulnerability, humour, and willingness to give a part of themselves to the work.
Q: With this piece, what has been the greatest challenge? What was the greatest surprise?
A: The greatest challenge was not being able to physically connect with each other. I have a deep-rooted love for partnering that has been stifled over the years. The greatest surprise was not so much of a surprise – I applaud the dancers for being so resilient, for constantly adapting to changing circumstances, and for dealing with my random tangents in rehearsal.
Q: What do you enjoy most about working with George Brown Dance?
A: I enjoy meeting and working with very diverse groups of dancers from a variety of backgrounds that contribute to both class work and the choreographic process. I am also honoured to work in collaboration with talented and celebrated colleagues that I both respect and admire.
George Brown Dance is a partnership between George Brown College and Ballet Jörgen.
See more info about the P101 Dance Performance Preparation