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Out Innerspace wants to limbo with Whitehorse

By Amy Kenny

Tiffany Tregarthen is an expert when it comes to dance, but she tries not to think about it that way when she’s dancing. That’s because she wants the work she does with Out Innerspace Dance Theatre to be accessible to audiences. Though Tregarthen says that can be a bit of dance itself.

“Accessibility can sometimes feel like you have to change to suit people who don’t dance, or aren’t part of it professionally, and I guess I don’t feel that way,” she says over the phone a few weeks before Out Innerspace, the contemporary dance company she founded with David Raymond, comes to Whitehorse with its new show, Bygones. “To make it accessible doesn’t mean I have to change what I’m doing.

There’s almost this gap for me because I’m deep in this creative swamp and I’m so in my work when I’m putting a show together that the gap I’m trying to fill is to know what it would be like for people who weren’t sitting in this dance for all those years, as opposed to thinking I am the expert. For me, it’s more like trying to access the experience of sitting in the theatre. What kind of ritual that is and what state the viewer wants to be in.”

In the case of Bygones, that state is limbo. While researching the work, Tregarthen says she and Raymond were concerned with ideas of form and formlessness – with the concept of possibility and how, when we aren’t always subject to the same rules, different ideas can emerge.

Whitehorse will be the first city to see Bygones when Tregarthen and Raymond, who have been creative partners for 14 years, bring it North on July 9. Tregarthen is excited to premiere in the Yukon because her previous experience (performing Out Innerspace’s work, Major Motion Picture in 2016/17) was great.

She’s also happy to be arriving in the Yukon early so she and Raymond can spend some more time in both the community and the theatre before actually performing. That kind of comfort is key, she says, with a new work like this, and it’s made possible by the residency program at the Yukon Arts Centre. That’s what brought Out Innerspace up this year. The residency is aimed at offering rehearsal and performance space, as well as equipment and a crew, to participants.

“We are thrilled to have a company like Out Innerspace Dance Theatre at the Yukon Arts Centre as part of our residency program,” says Casey Prescott, CEO of YAC. “This company has some of the most exciting and imaginative approaches to dance in the country and our team eagerly anticipates collaborating with them when they come up North.”

Tregarthen is likewise enthusiastic about the chance to work together. Because dancers are often working on multiple projects at once, she says the work has been done in phases over the last two-and-a-half years. The benefit of this has been that the time away from working directly on the piece allowed Tregarthen and Raymond to process the work they’d done and come back to it with a better understanding. It’s helped them put together a performance that differs from their previous work in multiple ways.

For one, they’re collaborating with mixed-media artist Lyle Reimer, whose work with salvaged itemshas appealed to them for years. His approach of making something new from something discarded, of giving new life to end-of-life items, seemed to fit with the themes of creation and destruction in Bygones.

Additionally, they wanted to tell their story in a new way.  

“When we first started we knew for sure that, moving off our last piece, we didn’t want to work with narrative in the same way,” says Tregarthen. They wanted to follow a less linear method. “We knew that much and wanted to explore moving in a state of flux. Improvisation and being disoriented and detached and at a tipping point.”

That presented its own challenges, but she says the world of the piece really became clear in the last few months. She can’t wait to invite Whitehorse into that world before taking it elsewhere in Canada in 2019.