No Single Dancer

While visiting Vancouver from New York, the experimental choreographer Deborah Hay, in collaboration with the Box Eighty Theatre Society (founded by local choreographer Helen Goodwin), hosted a participatory dance event at Western Front on November 22, 1974. Titled Dances for Everybody, the event has no known documentation, and this fact, alongside the conceptual premise evoked by its title, creates an opportunity to collectively speculate on the original performance.

No Single Dancer references Dances for Everybody, and questions the possibility and potential of dance at a moment in time when we are increasingly physically, socially and politically isolated from one another. What are the ways that everybody dances? How can we dance with, and for, everybody? What social potential might a dance for everybody hold? As a form that depends on bodies and relationality, this project asks if dance can serve as an inclusive and equitable space for all bodies.

By taking an interdisciplinary approach, and inviting a choreographer, writer and visual artist to explore what dances for everybody may be, this project considers the potential of dance as a medium. It also attempts to expand an understanding of dance through discursive programming, in which community participants can offer their own perspectives and interpretations of dance.

The project includes a virtual installation by visual artist Anna Firth, available online from Thursday, June 17; an online writing workshop with writer and art historian Mercedes Webb on Tuesday, June 22; and a performance by choreographer and dancer Justine A. Chambers on Friday, June 25 at Western Front. These related events, as well as community submissions and writings, will be presented together on the web page

No Single Dancer is curated by Jasmine Hynes, a candidate for the MA in Critical and Curatorial Studies at the University of British Columbia. The project is presented by Western Front with support from the Killy Foundation and the Audain Endowment for Curatorial Studies through the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory in collaboration with the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at the University of British Columbia.

Curator Biography

Jasmine Hynes (she/her) is an emerging curator and cultural worker born on Mi’kmaq and Beothuk lands (Burin, Newfoundland), raised on Treaty 7 territory (Calgary, Alberta) and now residing on the unceded and ancestral lands of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh peoples (Vancouver). Hynes holds a Bachelor of Arts with Distinction in Art History and Museum and Heritage Studies from the University of Calgary. She is the Curatorial Assistant at the Craft Council of British Columbia where she is currently working on a project exploring the connections between, and interpretations of, craft materiality through the communicative and ephemeral language of dance. Hynes has curated exhibitions at the AHVA Gallery (Vancouver), the Nickle Galleries (Calgary), and the Little Gallery (Calgary).

Artist Biographies

Justine A. Chambers (she/her) is a dance artist living and working on the unceded Coast Salish territories of the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. Her movement-based practice considers how choreography can be an empathic practice rooted in collaborative creation, close observation, and the body as a site of a cumulative embodied archive. Privileging what is felt over what is seen, she works with dances “that are already there”–the social choreographies present in the everyday. Her choreographic projects have been presented at the Nanaimo Art Gallery, Artspeak (Vancouver), Hong Kong Arts Festival, the Art Museum at the University of Toronto, Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery at Haverford College, Agora de la Danse (Montréal), Festival of New Dance (St. John’s), Mile Zero Dance Society (Edmonton), Dancing on the Edge (Vancouver), Canada Dance Festival (Ottawa), Dance in Vancouver, Western Front, and the Vancouver Art Gallery. She is Max Tyler-Hite’s mother.

Anna Firth (she/her) is a California-based visual artist using traditional drawn animation methods to create gifs and expanded cinema works. Her animations often crowd anthropomorphic stock characters into the video frame and weave the characters’ cartoonish bodies in infinitely looping scenes. Firth graduated from Emily Carr University’s MFA program in 2018 and previously attended the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.

ma̱lidi / məlidi / Mercedes Webb (they/she) is a writer of mixed ancestry, including Haida (Kunn Janaas) and Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw (Mama̱liliḵa̱la), living as a guest on Treaty 7 territory. Their writing aims to inform readers and generate interest in the ways art and writing are intrinsically intertwined with the social contexts we are living through, and how that informs the futures we may create. Webb’s vocals were included on the vinyl record within the monograph Rita McKeough: Works (2018), and they were the recipient of the 2019 Canadian Art Writing Prize. They hold a BA in Art History and Communications with Distinction from the University of Calgary. Currently they are learning two of their ancestral languages, Kwak̓wala and X̱aad Kil.