Behind the scenes: Developing the story of Moving Resting Nesting

A talk with some of our collaborators: Cherry Wen Wen Lu (Visual Artist), Sarah Dixon (Dramaturg), Caroline Liffmann (Artistic director associate) and Julie Lebel (Artistic director and choreographer)

Moving Resting Nesting is Foolish Operations’ new creation with and for young children and their adults. It’s in the last year of creation and will premiere at the Surrey International Children’s Festival in May 2022. There are 15 collaborators (!) working on this project and there have been several research phases that have included different combinations of these collaborators.

Last summer, Cherry, Sarah, Caroline and Julie collaborated on developing the dramaturgy and story for Moving Resting Nesting through illustrations created by Cherry. The process took place through multiple Zoom sessions over several weeks. Together, they developed a story through illustrations that are set around the performance area. The dancing and performance elements of MRN also follow the same story arc. Below are some thoughts from the group on the collaborative story-creation process and how it led them to the heart of the Moving Resting Nesting project.

What inspired the Moving Resting Nesting story?

Sarah Dixon, Dramaturg: I brought up a project of mine that I had done for my daughter in which I created three characters and used them as the centre of a cartoon I would draw for her and put in her lunch every day for school over three years. This was a story that kept unfolding with no beginning, middle or end. It created a very flexible, playful way to explore ideas and relationships through the characters and the setting.

What was your role in this project?

Cherry Wen Wen Lu, Visual Artist: I saw my role as that of an interpreter, translating movements, thoughts, and ideas into drawings. I enjoyed observing all the in-process dance videos throughout the year which were used as strong references for the character movements.

Caroline Liffmann, Artistic director associate: This was a very rich process with eyes on it from multiple directions. My role was to look for stories and meanings that arose, and then help us make choices about going in one direction or another. Part of this included looking for any gaps or missing pieces in our thinking, and looking for ways to integrate and embed our guiding values, both of which are an ongoing process.

Was this the first time you had worked in this collaborative way to develop a story?

Julie Lebel, Artistic director and choreographer: Stories often emerge quite late in my usual creative process, after choreography and other elements like music, costumes, props, video, etc. It doesn’t come in words. Working through illustrations and images with Cherry was new to me and helped clarify the story arc of this new work a lot earlier than usual.

Caroline: It was exciting to be in dialogue this way, and also for my mind to jump between the page and my body and the different ways the stories can be shared.

Did anything surprise you during this process?

Julie: We quickly established our 3 main characters – the child, the tree and the fantastic bird. The images are in sets of three and propose a “situation”. We discussed general ideas and Cherry would play with different situations. The role of the child in relation to the bird and the tree was difficult to establish. We were all struggling with the fact that the human in this story has the potential to disrupt and damage the environment. For example, Cherry proposed an image of the child looking closely at eggs in a nest. In April, learning with Sara Ross in a workshop offered by EartHand Gleaners Society called “Understanding Bird Language”, I learned that coming close to a nest brings a scent trail for other predators to find a direct route. We decided to keep the nest in a safe place instead!


Which is your favourite illustration?

Cherry: My favourite part of the illustrations were the trees; the character grounded the flow of the stories just as the real trees in the park establish the space in which the performers and audiences play. To me it became a metaphor of how we ought to exist in the environment around us.


What did this process reveal to you about the Moving Resting Nesting project?

Sarah: This process has reminded me of the importance of art and storytelling to bring humans into the moment of their lived experience. How to continue to learn about how we choose to be in relationship with each other and our world.

Julie: Working through iterations like this – drawing propositions, discussions, reflective process, gave me hope for humans in relationship to nature and especially the contribution of the child – the child as endlessly and contagiously curious to remind adults of the wonder of nature and the environment. Children help us all to learn more and be better stewards of this land for the generations to come.

Photography by Riz Herbosa and Illustrations by Cherry Wen Wen Lu

Sound Sculptures Project with Ben Brown

Foolish Operations is part of Ben Brown’s new project Sound Sculptures!

ABOUT THE PROJECT:

With his new project, Sound Sculptures, drummer and composer Ben Brown has set out to actively explore Vancouver’s “playability” as a city.

Brown’s interest in embodying sound vibration and found percussion led him to a practice of playing public structures like pitched percussion instruments. For this project, Brown has identified four sculptures that are distinctly musical when activated by soft felt mallets and hands: Dragon Skin Pavilion (UBC), Gate to the Northwest Passage (Kitsilano), Solo (Coal Harbour), and The Swimmer (Vancouver Aquatic Centre).

From April – September he will meet weekly with these four public art pieces in Vancouver to learn how to play them like musical instruments. With the support of the Vancouver Parks Board and Neighbourhood Matching Fund these explorations will culminate in public, outdoor performances to take place over four Sundays on September 12, 19, 26 and October 3. Joining him for the explorations and public performances are collaborators from All Bodies Dance and Foolish Operations!

ABOUT OUR COLLABORATION:

A testimonial from Foolish Operations Artistic Associate Sarah Gallos:

“I was curious to participate in Ben’s process, having experienced working with him in the past through Dancing the Parenting. I saw my role as a support to my kids curiosities. I worked on listening in and fine tuning the movement created from what we were ‘playing’ with, much like what we do in Dancing the Parenting and Foolish Operations productions. I stood as an advocate for the power of the child in the performance space. Ben was attentive and just as curious as the kids about the possibilities that existed between the sculptures, the bodies, the mallets and the sounds they made when they met.
About once a week throughout the summer,  I would say to my kids, Odessa and Osman; “We’re going to go and play with Ben.” No details other than that. We would meet him with his collection of colorful mallets, at a sculpture, rain or shine. The action was really driven by play. Sometimes the kids would suggest games, sometimes Ben would suggest games. We might feel the sculpture and play it with our hands, or whisper into it and see what we could hear. We’d all grab different mallets and strike the sculpture as hard or as soft as we could. We’d all talk about our experience.
I saw my kids learning about tone and resonance, space, structure, and the possibilities of interacting with the sculptures. We navigated moving around and within them, while playing them. We discussed the difference between music performance and dance performance and I offered guidance in building a movement score to present. My approach was one of observing how the participants moved through the setting and the sculpture, noticing the moments of connection within play, and placing value on those experiences.
When I asked Oz what he learned from Ben, he answered: ‘You should have ideas that other people might not think of, like playing a statue.’ My takeaway from Ben is to have fun and see what presents itself.  Play, curious and creative play, is eye opening and it makes me want to challenge myself to push the possibilities.”

Photos by Andi Mcleish

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT:

Vancouver New Music Event Page: https://newmusic.org/soundsculptures/
Sound Sculptures Website: http://benbrownsounds.com/soundsculptures/
#vansoundsculptures

Moving Resting Nesting at Bear Creek Park

An outdoor reading experience in Bear Creek Park, inspired by birds, filled with performances and participatory activities, for families with young children, daycares, or preschool groups.

Moving Resting Nesting – Foolish Operations’ new creation for young children and their adults.

Designed with the very young (2–7-year-olds) in mind, this is an outdoor reading experience in Bear Creek Park, inspired by birds, filled with performances and participatory activities for families with young children, daycares, or preschool groups.

Each reading station offers nature exploration, movement and sound making suggestions for families to participate at their own time and pace, to encourage expression and discovery with all the senses. In between reading stations families will encounter dance and music performances throughout their walk in the park.

Showtimes

  • August 20, 21 at 10am & 3:30pm
  • Tickets are pay-what-you-can

About Bear Creek Park

When you explore Bear Creek Park, you’ll find the focal point for the arts at the Surrey Arts Centre, the cooling off point for the summer at the outdoor pool and waterpark, and the Bear Creek Miniature Train. In addition to a large playground, Bear Creek features football and soccer fields, a running track, a new fenced-in dog off-leash area, and a skatepark to practice your skills. Also find outdoor fitness equipment to use for cardio and strength training. You can also spend time wandering along the nature trails and walking paths. Just a short walk down from the trail, catch a glimpse of spawning salmon or trout!

Bear Creek Park, 13750 88 Ave, Surrey, BC V3W 3L1

Our Team

  • Artistic director and choreographer: Julie Lebel
  • Artistic director associate: Caroline Liffmann
  • Dance artists: Isabelle Kirouac, Sophie Brassard, Sarah Gallos
  • Music: Tara Rajah (cello), Matthew Ariaratnam (composer), Sabrina Mo (flute)
  • Interdisciplinary artists: Sarah Dixon, Robin Lough, and Wen Wen Lu in the fields of illustration, music, theater, visual arts, and community engaged arts practice
  • Scenography: Kimira (Bhikum) Reddy
  • Artistic production: Xin Xuan Song

Link to the Surrey Civic Theatres’ event page: www.surrey.ca/news-events/events/moving-resting-nesting 

Volunteers Needed for Outdoor Performance!

We’re looking for up to 9 volunteers to help us supervise our performance space and material in between our two daily performances in Bear Creek Park (Surrey) on August 20th, 21st and 22nd. Three volunteers will be working together each day during the times of 11:00am and 3:00pm. You can let us know which days you are available.

You must be 16 year old and up to apply for this position.

Applicants residents of Surrey will be prioritized. Volunteers will be required to:

  • Look after our set up and material on our performance site;
  • Assist with disinfecting props;
  • Ensure that families do not set up picnics (for example) on our performance site.

We will provide a snack and a lunch. Bring your water bottle and your smile!

Accessibility note : The pathway to the performance site is a 4-5 minutes walk. The ground is uneven. This position is difficult of access for individuals using wheelchairs.

Additional Information:

  • Short Phone of Zoom Interview
  • Orientation will be held on Zoom, on August 12th at 5:00PM.

Why should you volunteer for this opportunity?

  • Gain experience in customer relations, public engagement and site safety.

Apply Here: www.volunteerconnector.org/vancouver/foolish-operationssociety/volunteer-for-moving-resting-nesing-story-walk-with-foolish-operations-in-bear-creek-park-surrey-16-yo-and-up

Tricoter remounted in Toronto!

In March, we sent out a call for dance artists in Toronto in order to create an Ontario-based team for Tricoter. We’re now pleased to introduce three new members of the growing Foolish Operations team: Phylicia Browne-Charles, Maria Riano and Jamee Valin!

Our professional development week, from Julie Lebel:

“From April 10-17 we held a full week of remount and professional development on zoom to equip three new dancers based in Toronto to perform Tricoter, when we are able to meet audiences again. The week included rehearsals at home with dance mentors Marie-Pier Gilbert and Meredith Kalaman and violinist Clara Rose.

Since we are preparing to present Tricoter for all ages but specifically for very young audiences, we held many workshops dedicated to early years development. Through our partnership with Luna Dance Institute (Berkeley, CA), Jochelle Perenña facilitated a workshop of the concept of neuro-development pathways from 0-5yrs, attachment theory and play theory where we also got to dance together.

One of the highlights for me was a meeting, about mid-week where over 11 artists that have performed Tricoter over the years joined in to share stories about the audiences they met, the places they performed it in to fill the three new dancers with beautiful cumulative memories and context.

We also held an Ensemble Thinking workshop and were supported by two of my fellow Lower Left collective members Margaret Paek (Wisconsin, USA) and Kelly Darlymple-Wass (Berlin, Germany). I was also grateful for associates Caroline Liffmann, Sarah Gallos and Sophie Brassard to hold check-in meetings that have helped set the tone and share collective values of Foolish Operations.

I want to thank everyone for their hard work during that very full week. I am excited to share Tricoter in Toronto when it is safe to meet audiences again and have Phylicia, Jamee and Maria shine among the beautiful colours of Tricoter’s yarn. Thank you Meredith and Marie-Pier for your support in planning that week, it was a lot of work but the careful planning made it enjoyable for all. Finally, I am grateful for the support of the Canada Council for the Arts that made this project possible.”

From our three new artists:

“ My week remounting Tricoter with Foolish Operations was exciting and filled with moments of joy and learning” – Maria Riano

“Dancing for the Toronto remount of Tricoter has been one of the most rewarding experiences of the pandemic for me. I love how we connected with people across the globe, sharing in the love for movement, education and awareness. The group was extremely welcoming, using technology in a way that felt surprisingly organic and fluid. A major highlight was improving to the live music that flooded the Zoom platform from Clara Rose”. – Jamee Valin

“I’m so surprised at the amount of content we were able to fit into pro-d week, without it being overwhelming. Everyone that was a part of it gave great insight to doing Tricoter, and the workshops and discussions around early childhood development helped tremendously to make connections with the audience once we get to perform live in the community.” – Phylicia Browne-Charles

Photo credits: Top photo taken by Jamee Valin, bottom left is of Phylicia Browne-Charles taken by Jessica Chin-King, middle photo of Jamee Valin taken by Kylie Thompson, bottom right of Maria Riano was taken by Aidan Tooth.

Under the Sea

We’re presenting a new creation presented by the City of Surrey Digital Stages

Free Online Event from May 28-June 11, 2021: Under the Sea

Go on a fun adventure! Designed with the very young in mind (age 3 – 7) Under the Sea (Sous la Mer) is a dancing storytime that explores creative movements inspired by sea creatures such as pufferfish, crabs, and sharks. Build a cozy boat with cushions and blankets and dive into your adventure. Baby crabs: can you crawl under your mama crab? Papa sharks: can you follow baby shark where-ever they go? Pufferfishes: how big and how small can you dance?

This enchanting performance filled with music and movement will get the whole family up off the couch and on their feet! This interactive show designed to engage and spark the curiosity of young minds was created by Foolish Operations’ who also created the charming world of Paper Playground, a Surrey International Children’s Festival commission. To watch Under the Sea, tune in to the Digital Stage via the City of Surrey’s YouTube channel, their website, or on Surrey Civic Theatres’ Facebook Page

Quick clicks:

We’ll also be leading a professional development workshop

Creative Movement for Children

Professional Development Workshop, May 26, 2021 at 6:30–7:30pm

This professional development workshop is for early childhood educators, librarians who work with children, early years recreational leaders and parents.

In this session you will learn how to integrate the creative movements of Under the Sea in your practice. This workshop is free and will be led by Julie Lebel and other artists from Foolish Operations. Pre-registration is required.

More details: www.surrey.ca/news-events/events/under-sea

  • Direction: Julie Lebel, with the support of Caroline Liffmann and sarah Gallos
  • Featuring: Sarah Gallos
  • Music: Meredith Bates
  • Animations: Jacquie Rolston
  • Editing: Brian Lye
  • Surrey Civic Theatres Community Recording Sessions with: Fernanda Teixeira and Dave Brownell