Dancing in the streets

Montréal-based contemporary dancer and artist Lucy May is in Sackville as a nomadic artist-in-residence to start her new project, Esemplastic Landing.

May integrates her dance into the physical environment by training and performing with the natural elements of wind, water, mud and grass.

Extending over a three-month period, May’s upcoming dance project will combine the physicality of her body with the earth. “Opening all the pores and all the senses, I am not too concerned about what the dance looks like, just [that] it is fulfilling itself,” May said.

The dance project is currently in Sackville but will travel to Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton.Originally from New Brunswick, May is thrilled to be returning to her homeland. “I have always had this contact and related to rural New Brunswick, especially living in Montréal.”

The basic project template calls for going on walks to soak in and respond to her surroundings through dance. Her training consists of using movements such as climbing, crouching and staying still to respond to her environment as she walks.

Working as her own choreographer, May emphasizes awareness to the environment over crafting an aesthetically pleasing dance routine – the dances are focused on the senses.

Speaking of her childhood, May said, “As a kid you spend a day-trip at Fundy National park, then you leave. I went to Big Salmon river, St. Martin’s, the swimming holes – all these amazing places that fascinated me. But I could never stay long enough.”

A professional dance career meant that May travelled constantly. This constant state of movement eventually made her feel detached from her surroundings. “It disturbed me to be so disconnected from where I was,” May said. Her current project addresses this disconnect and allows her to embrace the environment through her movement when she goes on these walks.

No stranger to collaboration, May has worked with an impressive list of professional dance ensembles: José Navas, LADMMI dance company, a horse and Sylvain Lafortune. She has just finished her time as a dancer with Compagnie Marie Chouinard and is currently working solo on Esemplastic Landing.

“I have been working in front of audiences that are looking to be entertained or moved,” May said. “Could performance be for people or things or objects that are also in the process of questioning? Could performance be a method of research?”

Curious about the mud flats, train tracks, dykelands and marshes of Sackville, May welcomes anyone to join her on her walks, whether it’s for accompaniment or documentation. May’s daily walking schedule will be posted outside the seminar room of the Purdy Crawford Centre for the Arts.

“If we move more in general, we might be healthier in our bodies [and] in our communities.”

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