Do you have a story to share about your first year here in the Yukon?
Do you have a poem, a song or a silent memory?
How is your life different now that you have become a Yukon Sourdough?
Four local choreographers are creating a multidisciplinary performance piece and are seeking input in the form of words, sentences and/or paragraphs that describe the Yukon experience.
These artists are looking for the toils, the struggles, the “comedy of life” incidents that will infuse this project with familiarity, relevance and vitality.
The working title of this project is One Year in the Yukon and is the brainchild of Michelle Fisher. The choreographers are Fisher, Jessica Hickman, Andrea Simpson-Fowler and Jude Wong. The dancers are Fisher, Hickman, Wong and Becky Reynolds.
Fisher received an Advanced Artist Grant last fall to begin the project, and has been collaborating primarily with Hickman.
The Advanced Artist Grant is supporting the creation of the project, and SYIDA is covering the production end of the show. Jordy Walker will be creating the original music score for this multimedia production, and Celia McBride will be the dramaturge.
I am having coffee and treats today with Fisher and Hickman, so we can discuss the elements of the project, the soul of the pieces, and the purpose of the journey. Fisher explains that she has been thinking of doing something like this for a long time now.
Originally from Saskatchewan, she came to the Yukon to dance in the Frantic Follies (kudos to the Follies for bringing us so many talented dancers over the years).
Fisher beams as she recalls her fondest memory of her first year here: “It was the end of the Follies season, and we were out on Becky’s balcony. That was the first time I saw the Yukon Northern Lights.
“Oh, I had seen some back on the prairies, but they just sort of floated in the sky. Here, the lights were really dancing … and the colours, green and pink … wow! I watched them for so long that I got a crick in my neck.”
Fisher will be choreographing the fall season – the short season we all know as the three weeks before winter. “I want to choreograph my season, not as the actual Northern Lights, but about the people looking at them.”
Hickman adds, “Yes, we want the seasons to represent people more than the actual sights and sounds. We also want to find the humour in some of the things that may, to Yukoners, seem mundane or ordinary. That way we can re-evaluate our own possible negative feelings about Yukon living.”
Hickman is choreographing the summer season. “To me,” she smiles, “summer is when people go crazy. The 24-hour sun allows us to bike, hike, swim – do everything we can’t do in the winter. There will be a frenzy of fast and crazy in this piece. Summer to me is green. It’s growth and energy,” she adds. “When the dark comes back, there is almost a sigh of relief.”
Fisher and Hickman, as well as the other choreographers and dancers involved in the project, are also dance teachers in Whitehorse, with very busy schedules. “We won’t have the luxury of having full rehearsal days. What could be done in two weeks, will probably take three months or more,” says Hickman.
“That’s OK though,” says Fisher. “We are used to working that way. It just makes our rehearsal hours more precious.”
Details about performance dates, a venue, and even the length of the show are still up in the air. Hickman and Fisher do know that One Year in the Yukon will be performed this summer along with a SYIDA performance. They are hoping for an intimate space, as they feel that the audience will be more drawn in that way.
This original production will be worth the wait through spring (Wong’s season). Stay tuned for more details, and don’t forget to send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.