A Dancer's View Week 2
This Catalyst Dance series offers the dancer's view into the research and development of "A Port in the Storm" premiering July 2nd, 2015 at The Mansion in Vancouver, Canada
By Jenna-Lee Hay
Lucky is the word that first comes to mind while thinking back on this past Wednesday.
Lucky to be an artist, lucky to be with Catalyst Dance, and lucky to simply be alive.
Last Wednesday marked the first Catalyst rehearsal on location at the Aberthau House (The Mansion) in West
Point Grey, Vancouver. Sophie Brassard, Jenna Lee Hay, Rachel Helten, Lesley Kosinski, and
Melissa Panetta, the six dancers of Catalyst, came together with lighting designer James Kokol
and the Vancouver-based string and vocal trio lead by Elliot Vaughan, The End Tree, to The
Mansion to collaborate and create in preparation for the upcoming July 2nd show, “A Port in the
The mansion turned community centre is visually stunning, boasting multiple rooms
filled with ornate period details with features such as luxurious staircases, and mysterious servant
quarters. As The Mansion is the location of Catalyst’s future show, “A Port in the Storm”, on-site
rehearsals were integral for logistical elements of the production, as well as for the processing
and amalgamation of lighting, movement, and music.
Creation was ignited within each artist as a series of structured improvisations were
facilitated and developed by the founder and director of Catalyst Dance, Desirée Dunbar. The
End Tree performed exquisitely haunting music, James shaped the atmosphere of each space
with a self-made portable lighting device, and the dancers explored the architecture of each
room, embodying the essence of the house around them. The movement investigation took the
artistic team throughout the entirety of The Mansion, from the ornate wooden walls to the edges
of the masculine fireplaces, and down the creaking stairs into the grand foyer. Light illuminated
the multiple rooms through mirrors, crevices, and windows, while the melodies of The End Tree
placed a spell over the estate. It seemed as though the house itself was becoming part of the
process, its own voice being brought up through movement, song, and light.
As a movement artist who has performed in multiple venues, the experience at The
Mansion was a first for myself, and what a treat it was. Work felt like play, rehearsal felt like
recess, and above all else I felt fortunate. Dance can challenge the body, spirit, and soul, though
it is experiences such as this make the efforts worth it. Working with Catalyst Dance has
reignited the passion and excitement I have for my craft, and above all else, I look forward to
sharing this with others.
To witness the spirits of The Mansion come alive through live music, lighting, and dance,
join us in Vancouver for “A Port in the Storm” on July 2nd.
Jenna-Lee is a fourth year dance major at Simon Fraser University and a dancer with Catalyst. She is pleased to be the company's intern operations manager for the summer.