One of the main purposes of the Grand OnStage program presented by the City of Kingston is to provide Kingston audiences with opportunities to see artists from across Canada and around the world. We love having the chance to share these artists with our audiences and we also try to create opportunities for people to meet and learn from these artists as well. Often those opportunities includes pre- and post-performance talks and sometimes they include master classes or school visits.
Sometimes we’re able to go even further and organize what are called “creative residencies”. These opportunities are different because they involve bringing an artist to Kingston over an extended period of time to create new work or to connect with Kingston residents through workshops and performances. These kinds of creative residencies first began in 2013 when RUBBERBANDance from Montreal came to Kingston to create a new work and continued in 2014 when Dreamwalker Dance Company helped to create a collaborative work called The Whole Shebang that was performed as part of the opening of the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning.
Contemporary dance has been an important focus of these creative residences and, this year, marks the end of a four-year residency with renowned Canadian dancer Peggy Baker whose company will be presenting a brand new work called who we are in the dark at the Grand Theatre on April 9. This relationship first began in August 2015 when the Cultural Services Department brought Peggy Baker to Kingston to start of a three-year summer residency at the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning.
During that first year, Peggy Baker worked with a group of local dancers and dance enthusiasts to rehearse and perform a piece called move. Over 150 people attended the final performance at the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning and the participants spoke about how the rehearsal process and the performance together demonstrated how powerful and important it was to be able to work with one of Canada’s best-known dancers to create something so meaningful they could share with a local audience.
Peggy Baker returned in 2016 to work with the community to present two pieces called FLUX and FLUXDelux at the Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning and in Springer Market Square. Using a simple set of instructions to guide movement, Peggy Baker created a fun and fascinating adventure in action and interaction for community members of all ages. Once set in motion, participants created an ever-evolving piece of group choreography. Her 2016 residency also included a free public performance of the piece five poems for body and breath at the Grand Theatre.
In the final year of her residency, in 2017, Peggy Baker expanded her working process to include vocal and musical elements in addition to dance. In partnership with musician and singer Fides Krucker, Peggy Baker shared movement and music workshops with local seniors’ residences. Together, Peggy and Fides also mentored a cast of local youth and adult performers to present chorus, a work that integrated dance, music and vocal scores. You can read more about this experience here.
Now, in 2019, Peggy Baker returns to Kingston with her company Peggy Baker Dance Projects to present a new work she has been created in collaboration with musicians Sarah Neufeld and Jeremy Gara from Arcade Fire. This piece, which recently premiered in Toronto, is supercharged with live music and explores shifting identities, betrayals, secrets, and intimacies that play out in the dark in a truly striking fashion. As a regular subscriber to dance performances at the Grand Theatre it is exciting to have seen how our city’s relationship with Peggy Baker has evolved over the past four years and it is especially exciting to be able to share her latest work, which is one of her most ambitious in terms of scale and scope.
The City of Kingston acknowledges the Ontario Arts Council and their support for bringing Peggy Baker to Kingston.