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Dance Day ’17: Mocean Dance celebrates International Day with an Eclectic Dance Offering

HALIFAX, NS – April 17, 2017: Mocean Dance kicks up its heels for International Dance Day, with Dance Day ’17,a performance featuring two works by emerging dance artists, Mocean’s 15th Anniversary documentary film, and special performance by Mocean Dance. The event takes place on Saturday, April 29th at 8pm at DANSpace-on-Grafton (1531 Grafton Street). Tickets are $10, $8 for students/artists.

The evening will feature the premiere of a new work by Kara Friesen created within Mocean’s EMERGE Program which aims to support the development of Halifax’s emerging dance artists. Friesen created a new trio with dancers Olivia Aubrecht, Jessica Lowe, and Joshua Moore, with mentorship provided by Sara Coffin, Mocean’s Co-Artistic Director.

Also on the program is Arriving At The End, a solo work by Kathleen Doherty, Artistic Director of Votive Dance and past EMERGE participant. Arriving At The End is inspired by Amelia Earhart. Within this work, Doherty explores her own connections to the famous aviator, and explores the idea of woman vs machine. Strength, trust, individuality, feminism and leadership are all qualities explored within the work.

Mocean will round out the program with two of its recent projects: Halifax Movement Synthesis a dance work by Mocean created entirely from movements donated by the public and the unveiling of Mocean Dance: a Living Legacy a documentary film created by Noah Stevens that follows the creation of Fifteen for Fifteen, Mocean’s large-scale community piece and reflects on the company’s fifteen-year history.

Dance Day ’17 promises to be a refreshing and entertaining evening of contemporary dance sure to have you celebrating dance in Halifax!

Dance Day ’17
Saturday, April 29th, 8PM
DANSpace-on-Grafton, 1531 Grafton Street
Tickets $10, $8 students/artists, available at the door
Info: 902-425-4908 /

Democratizing dance:

Halifax’s vanguard contemporary dance company aims to democratize dance with Halifax Movement Synthesis

HALIFAX, NS – April 11, 2017: In celebration of National Dance Week Mocean Dance breaks open the creative process with Halifax Movement Synthesis, a project that proposes creating a dance piece based entirely on movements donated by the public.

Mocean will hit the streets of Halifax April 24th and 25th to collect “movement donations” from people who will be filmed and invited to give their name for use in the programme. Mocean will also set up a “movement drive” at the Halifax Central Library April 24th and 25th from 2-4 PM for anyone who would like to donate a movement. Once the material is collected five Mocean dancers will then learn the movement donations in the precise order in which they were received, and one dancer will dance a unison duet with the film of the donations. Then, the donated movement will be utilized as the raw material for a choreographed dance performed by the five dancers. The original sequence and the choreographed piece will be unveiled Thursday, April 27th at 7:00pm at a FREE Artist Talk and showing at the Halifax Central Library (Paul O’Regan Hall).

Halifax Movement Synthesis is the brainchild of American dance scholar Dr. Larry Lavender whose interest in democratizing dance builds on the work of post-modern dance artists of the 1960s who opened up the idea and the act of “dancing” both to the ordinary (and “un-trained”) body and to what moving bodies do when they are not necessarily trying to dance. In a movement synthesis project enacted in Dunedin, New Zealand and in Greensboro, North Carolina Lavender found passers-by were generally readily agreeable to donate movements and the act of giving the movement became a performance unto itself. “In this project there is no hierarchy between the public and the professional dancers,” says Lavender “even as the new work created incorporates deliberate acts of choreographic composition and aesthetic choice making, one possible outcome may be that the choreographed dance will be of no greater interest (artistic or otherwise) to viewers than the original donated movement.”

Founded in 2001, Mocean has earned critical acclaim and a national reputation as one of the leading professional dance companies in Atlantic Canada. Collaborating with many of the country’s leading contemporary choreographers, the company has also toured nationally and conducted residencies and workshops in Canada and the United States.

Halifax Movement Synthesis is a new venture for Mocean and a chance to break out of the frame of the studio. For the past two years Mocean has been partnering with the Halifax Central Library offering free workshops and movement classes as a way to connect with the broader public. “Halifax Movement Synthesis is very much in line with the core values of Mocean Dance, namely creating innovative work and engaging our community in exploration of dance as both self expression and artistic sensibility” says Sara Coffin, Mocean’s Co-Artistic Director. “We are excited to work with movements from the public to create something that reflects Halifax’s unique identity.”

Coffin met Lavender in 2011 at Montreal Danse’s choreographic lab where Lavender was a mentor and Coffin, a participating choreographer. In 2015 Mocean invited Lavender to be the mentor at Mocean’s Choreographic Lab CLEaR Forum, which takes place annually at Ross Creek Centre for the Arts. “Larry proposed the movement synthesis project and we thought it would be a great fit” explained Mocean Co-Artistic Director, Susanne Chui, “So often our outreach is separate from our creation activities, but this project synthesizes these two aspects of our work.”

Lavender is professor of Interdisciplinary Arts in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He has written extensively on choreography teaching and learning, and created many works in non-traditional ways for non-traditional spaces. His chapter “The Emancipation of Improvisation” is forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook on Improvisation in Dance.


  • Movement Donation Drive: April 24th & 25th from 2:00-4:00PM, Halifax Central Library, Paul O’Regan Hall.
  • Performance and Artist Talk: April 27th at 7:00PM, Halifax Central Library, Paul O’Regan Hall. FREE

Photograph by Holly Crooks