Works + Working On
“Graveyards and Gardens” (working title) is a collaborative installation created and performed by composer Caroline Shaw and choreographer Vanessa Goodman. Produced by Action at a Distance, this new work examines memory as a process of reconstruction rather than an exact recall of fixed events, embracing the various elaborations, distortions, and omissions. The duet frames an immersive performative environment through focusing on the body as a chamber for both sound and movement. Created with the generous support of The Canada Council for the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and CCOV.
Blurring the lines between what is real and what is imagined, "In Fiction" is based on the fact and fiction surrounding caul births, the extremely rare phenomenon where a baby is born cloaked in the amniotic sack.
February 6th-9th, 2019 at 8pm
Shadbolt Centre for the Arts
“Amid eerie, alien-whistles and a nonchalant shuffle-beat, Goodman’s movement expands and transforms into fast-twitch sequences that move rapidly (almost too quickly to register) from shape to shape, often finishing with a suspension. She hits positions like a kickboxer, and stretches herself like taffy […] What makes In Fiction so pleasurable and palatable is the sophisticated way in which it directs the viewer’s gaze, creating striking images that imprint themselves on the memory. (A final image of Goodman clothed and hooded in an outline of puffy athletic wear, arms outstretched, a silhouette in the haze as the female voice repeats “the caul is seen as an omen of supernatural armour”).
The other major success is in Goodman’s durational choices. I never feel as though a scene or an image takes too long, and yet the performer is in no rush. She is careful, methodical, yet at times pushes herself to full physical extension, while staying totally committed to each moment.”
Rachel Maddock Blog -Feb 10th 2019
"Never Still", the newest work from Vanessa Goodman/Action at a Distance, is inspired by the inherent conflicts and dichotomies of water. It is graceful and challenging, like humanity itself, and we are literally made of it. Social, environmental and biological themes are explored in this highly physical new work set to premiere at The Firehall this Fall.
September 26th-29th, 2019 at 8pm
The Firehall Arts Centre
Created in collaboration with audio-visual designer Scott Morgan/Loscil, lighting designer James Proudfoot, costume designers Lloyd Clothing, performing artists Shion Skye Carter, Stéphanie Cyr, Bynh Ho, Alexa Mardon, Lexi Vajda and creative mentor Peter Bingham.
“Fresh from the premiere of last year's Wells Hill, and with the aid of the Yulanda Faris Choreographers' Program, Vanessa Goodman and her company Action at a Distance opened the Firehall's 2018/19 season last night with another ambitious full-length creation. Never Still is about water: both the natural element that covers nearly 70% of the earth's surface and the physiological element that makes up over half of humans' bodies (the Borg to Captain Picard: "You bags of mostly water!"). Not that you need to know this to enjoy the work, and when the curtains parted and the lights came up on dancer Lexi Vajda jerking and twitching her limbs amid a sea of white Tyvek (ironically the material used to wrap houses in order to prevent water penetration) as fellow dancers Shion Carter, Stéphanie Cyr, Bynh Ho, and Alexa Mardon sunk their already partially immersed bodies deeper into its folds, I was actually put in mind of a waterless lunar landscape.
Albeit one that still ripples with movement: both from the submerged bodies that, over the course of Vajda's almost ten-minute solo, are slowly sending the Tyvek, like ebbing sea surf, upstage, and from the lighting and visual effects (courtesy of James Proudfoot and Loscil/Scott Morgan, respectively) playing across the Tyvek's surface. And I have to say that the monochromatic palette of the piece's design concept is truly compelling. When the other dancers emerge from underneath the Tyvek to join Vajda, we see that like her they are wearing baggy tennis whites; set against the projected black and white images of their floating bodies on the video that plays behind them (again by Loscil, featuring additional underwater footage by Ben Didier), the colourless blur of live bodies sets in motion Goodman's liquid choreography in a manner akin to beads of water on a flat, sloping surface--chasing after each other and occasionally forming into a single mass, but also breaking apart and hovering near each other in trembling anticipation. Such effects were especially brought to light in a duet between Cyr and Ho in which Goodman continues her experiments with non-touch partnering, and also in a group sequence in which all five dancers come together in a slowly shifting huddle, spelling the placement of each other's limbs and subtly changing their facings in a manner that challenges our conception of what is liquid and solid.
What I most appreciate about Goodman as an artist is that she creates complete performance environments. She is a choreographer of immense intelligence and talent, but she's equally interested in sound and lighting and visuals and design. With Never Still we get the integration of all of these elements into a work that while staged proscenium-style nevertheless feels immersive. I encourage folks to dive in.”
Peter Dickinson - Sept 27th, 2018 performance, place and politics
Wells Hill is an immersive contemporary dance work that celebrates communication and explores humanity's relationship with medium and performance. It draws inspiration from the work of Marshall McLuhan and Glenn Gould, two Canadian luminaries who altered how we consume art and information. With an incredible cast of performers backed by an innovative artistic team this work promises to be an exciting tapestry of movement and sound. Choreographer Vanessa Goodman’s thoughtful work strives to be a spectacle and has been praised for its "thrilling visual magic" (The Georgia Straight).
Choreography/Concept: Vanessa Goodman
Lighting Designer: James Proudfoot
Projection Design: Ben Didier, Milton Lim and Vanessa Goodman
Costume Design: Diane Park
Collaborating Dance Artists/Performers: Lara Barclay, Karissa Barry, Dario Dinuzzi, Bynh Ho, Arash Khakpour, Alexa Mardon and Bevin Poole
Composers: Scott Morgan (Loscil) and Gabriel Saloman
Apprentice: Shion Carter
SFU Interns: Samantha Penner and Anya Saugstad
Publication: Peter Dickinson
Production Manager: Jessica Chambers
Outside Eye: James Gnam
Chutzpah! Festival World Premiere Feb 25th-28th 2015
Dance in Vancouver Nov 21st 8pm 2015
Shadbolt Centre for the Arts March 2nd-5th 2016
DanceHouse and SFUW Commissioning & Presenting Partner
Fei and Milton Wong Theatre
Nov 23rd, 24th & 25th 8pm, Nov 26th 2pm, 2017
Wells Hill was made possible with generous support from SFUW, Canada Council for the Arts, The British Columbia Arts Council and The City of Vancouver.
Container premiered June 9th & 10th 2015 with Small Stage at the Canada Dance Festival and the Magnetic North Theatre Festival at the National Arts Arts Centre, Ottawa. Then performed at DOTE 2015, PuSh Off 2016 and at The Shadbolt Centre for the Arts in March 2016. Recent tours include Northwest New Works at On the Boards and Risk/Reward Festival, Dance Made in/fait au Canada Festival.
Container is a new work by choreographer and performer Vanessa Goodman that explores heritage, culture and resilience.
"Goodman's solo Container, a version of which she presented earlier this June at the Magnetic North Festival, showcases what an amazing mover she is. Clad in nude-coloured dance semis and what looked like mini combat boots, and combining hyper-kinetic android-like movements with various club grooves, Goodman reminded me at various points of a cross between Priss from Blade Runner and Miley Cyrus--but without the look-at-me twerking, and with a much more gorgeous silhouette. At one point, early on in the piece, Goodman launches into a deep lunge, arching her back in way that had me wishing I could mimic that pose on the beach. Then, too, there is Goodman's innate musicality, as when she pulses her upper body and arms in simple yet hypnotic time to the electronic sound score by Loscil (the Vancouver-based artist Scott Morgan). To go back to that sci-fi connection I made via the Blade Runner reference, Container ends with Goodman dancing in a single, slowly fading spot upstage (the lighting is again by Proudfoot), her upper body raised to the ceiling as if she is about to be transported to another world, one that is big enough to contain her outsized talents."
Peter Dickinson/Performance, Place and Politics (2015)
This work was made possible with generous support from The Shadbolt Centre for the Arts and Small Stage
The Canada Dance Festival with Small Stage June 2015, Ottawa ON, Dancing on the Edge Festival July 2015, Vancouver BC, Push Off Feb 2016, Vancouver BC
The Shadbolt Centre for the Arts March 2016, Burnaby BC, On the Boards June 2016, Seattle USA, Risk Reward Festival June 2016, Portland USA, The Dance made in/Fait au Canada Festival August 2017, Toronto ON, The Bienal Internacional de Dança Do Ceará October 2017, Fortaleza Brazil, Fluid Festival October 2018, Calgary AB
WHAT BELONGS TO YOU
(60MINS) PREMIERED JULY 5TH & 6TH 201
THE DANCING ON THE EDGE FESTIVAL AT THE DANCE CENTRE FARIS THEATRE
SET: 200 WHITE BALLOONS, 10-13, 20" HDX BLACK FANS, PLASTIC SHEETING. ALL PROVIDED BY THE ARTIST.
This new dance work is a physical journey motivated by human desire and led by the senses. What Belongs to You is driven by the need to connect, survive, remember and understand the human experience. It is anchored by Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which describes the pattern that human motivations move through in life.
As the performers execute the innovative movement hundreds of white balloons cascade through the space. These balloons become instruments of motivation, acting as catalysts for the performers’ experience and transformation. Their innate spontaneity creates a dynamic environment that enhances the performers’ journey through this richly complex work and draws the audience into a thrilling performative experience.
"Goodman, winner of the 2013 Iris Garland emerging-choreographer award, shows depth, innovation, and maturity with this new piece, while expressing herself in a way that is massively accessible because of the spectacular, sensory effect of the balloons and the visual tricks she achieves with them. This is dance that anyone would enjoy. And if she can do this with a few standard items from Home Depot and Party Bazaar, there’s no stopping her."
Janet Smith/Georgia Straight (2014)