Nostalgia: sometimes it’s bitter, sometimes it’s sweet, and sometimes…it’s bagpipes. Brave New Works (BNW), the annual Whitehorse-based multidisciplinary performing arts collective, is back with a new theme. This year, the variety show is wistfully looking to the past with dance, photography, spoken word & mixed media, rap, poi, ukulele, and — you guessed it — bagpipes.
Co-artistic directors Zoe Verhees and Mellisa Murray bring you Brave New Works: Nostalgia on Friday and Saturday nights, March 20 and the 21 at the Old Fire Hall. And not to worry, they will provide earplugs.
Verhees and Murray studied dance together at York University in Toronto, but the roots of their long-term friendship and creative partnership go much deeper. Both born-and-raised in Whitehorse, the pair met while attending Leaping Feats dance studio as pre-teens. They first took advantage of BNW’s performance opportunity during high school and went on to participate in the show for over 10 years. Last season, the chance to dive into some production work piqued their interests when the former artistic director, Lauren Tuck, was looking to pass BNW into new hands.
With last year’s show under their belts, the co-artistic directors are confident in their roles, which involve grant writing, carrying out the submission process, coordinating, stage managing, and performing — all of which they fit around their day jobs.
Verhees is a child and youth support worker. One day, she hopes to incorporate dance therapy into her career.
Murray teaches dance and is a bookkeeper and administrator at Leaping Feats. She’s also a new mom and brings her baby, Tatum, with her everywhere — even to interviews.
Despite all the hard work, Verhees and Murray say they are lucky to be doing what they love. They are well aware that the funding and support available to Yukon artists, along with the close-knit artistic community, make their home territory a very special place. “If we had stayed in Toronto and tried to do this, there’s no way it would be possible,” says Verhees.
To Verhees and Murray, the need for a show like BNW is obvious. For one thing, their own local performance opportunities petered off after they graduated. “There are a couple of dance studios, but they’re mostly youth-based,” says Murray. The pair also sees the need to provide a platform for local professional artists to experiment. “Because it’s all new work that’s being shown, it’s a chance for artists to play and to create stuff that maybe they wouldn’t normally create if they had the pressure of doing a full show,” says Verhees.
The show will be broken into three parts allowing time for audience feedback after each section. Come prepared to provide constructive criticism, and of course, compliments galore.
This season’s call for submissions was held before Christmas and produced a large number of responses. Verhees’s and Murray’s own pieces bring the total number of performers to 12, five returning and seven new. “Last year the theme was “Red” and people had to think harder,” says Murray. “But this year, just saying “Nostalgia” everyone was like ‘Bing bing bing! I have so many ideas.’” “Everyone feels nostalgic about something, whether good or bad,” adds Verhees.
Brave New Works: Nostalgia is playing Friday, March 20 and Saturday, March 21 at 7:00 at the Old Fire Hall (1105 Front St.) Tickets are $15 in advance, available for purchase at 38 Famous Video in Riverdale, from any of the artists participating in the show, or by emailing email@example.com. Tickets are also available at the door for $20.
Doors open at 6:30. Arrive early to take in the pre-show dance-installation and hit the bar (sponsored by Yukon Circus Society).