PAN (2015)

Choreographer: Davida Monk
Dancer: Shayne Johnson
Understudy:  Dario Charles 
Music: Innua: Three Masks by Allan Gordon Bell

According to Roberto Calasso and James Hillman, Pan is the wildest and most bestial of the gods, the master of the instinctual soul. A music man and a great dancer, he teaches us about rhythm and range. His dance comes from, and its intoxication leads us back to, the wild.

Photographer: Tim Nguyen

“The poles of sexuality and panic, which can instantly switch into each other or release each other, exhibit the most crassly compulsive extremes of attraction and repulsion. … Pan is a monster. He is a creature that does not exist in the natural world. His nature is imaginal, so too instinct is to be understood as an imaginal force …” James Hillman

“… unsettling, vivid, and deeply memorable — all the more so because of the striking soundscape.” Bruce Barton

Putting on the Ice-Shirt (2014)

Choreographer/Performer: Davida Monk
Musician/Performer:  Bill Horist  
Lighting Design: Graham Frampton
Costume Design: Robin Poitras

The Ice-Shirt (1990) is William T. Vollman’s opening novel in a series of what he describes seven dreams, immaculately researched works of historical fiction that re-envision the first contact of European and North American cultures.  Putting on the Ice-Shirt evokes a wildness of spirit, mythic portent and dark beauty which it draws from Vollman’s telling of the Nordic peoples visits to North America circa 1000 C.E..
Premiered at the Sound Symposium, St. John’s Newfoundland.
Photographer Greg Locke

“ beautiful and strong. A really captivating & compelling idea of putting on an ‘Ice Shirt’, And your connection with Bill was tangible – was a complimentary arrangement, important and subtle listening going on, a ambient sensitivity to the space.” Calla Lachance

Fabulous Beast (2014)

Choreographer: Davida Monk
Dancer: Becky Sawdon
Music: Ellipse, Robert Normandeau
Lighting: Steve Isom

Fabulous Beast vocabulary arises from the study of netsuke.  The solo performer brings a fantastical array of beings alive in a dramatic sequence of juxtaposition and transformation.
Photographer Lise McMillan

M-Body | Fabulous Beast
M-Body | Fabulous Beast

Moon in the Fox’s Garden (2014)

Choreographer: Davida Monk
Dancers: Tasha Danyluk, Sisa Madrid, Meaghann Michalsky, Camille Mori, Lindsay Oehlerking, Zahra Shahab, Brynn Williams
Music: Venture, Robert Normandeau
Costume Design: Robin Poitras
Costume Construction: Carey Lees

In Japanese folklore the fox appears both as Inari, god of rice and protector of crops, and as a mischievous spirit that disguises itself as a woman to bewitch the unwary and the gullible.  I imagine that the dance unfolds in the gardens of Kyoto and Higashihiorshima (Rhyoan-ji, Shigimori House and Kamoizumi House).  Embracing the aesthetic values of stillness, contemplation, asymmetry and embodied essence, Moon in the Fox’s Garden contains and withholds, flows and explodes in the expression of the deep nature of being.

Commissioned by the University of Calgary.
Photographer: Natalia Babanova

Dream Pavilion (2013)

Choreographer: Davida Monk
Dancers: Helen Husak, Walter Kubanek
Musician: Bill Horist
Costume Design: Robin Poitras
Costume Construction: Carey Lees

Dream Pavilion movement vocabulary arose from a process in which the dancers embodied the physicality of netsuke, tiny Japanese sculptures of exquisite detail.  Netsuke depict a range of subjects from flora and fauna to fantastical beasts and mythical beings, captured in moments of powerful emotional expression.  In Dream Pavilion my desire is to bring netsuke to life in a world of juxtaposition and transformation that touches the depths of human desire, fear, playfulness and imagination.
Photographer: Tim Nguyen

“Intense, exaggerated facial expressions and articulate, intricate movement make for a definitely memorable piece.” Kortney Swan

“Bill Horist, a musician extraordinaire who will blow your mind” Taylor Ritchie

From One Country to Another (2013)

Commissioned Choreographer:  Lee Su-feh
Dancer: Davida Monk
Music: Phénomènes, Allan Gordon Bell, performed by Land’s End Ensemble
Text:  Excerpts from Sunzi “The Art of War” and Mary Oliver “From the Book of Time

Choreographer’s Note:  My materials are the human body, space and time.  When I am asked to create a work on a dancer, I consider the materials that the dancer offers me – not only her body and all it contains, but also the time and space it holds and is held in.  In Davida’s case her body is intrinsically connected to the landscape in which she feels joy – the prairies of Southern Alberta i.e. the traditional territory of the Blackfoot or Treaty 7.  In this body are also her other loves:  the music and spirit of her partner, composer Allan Gordon Bell, the poetry of Mary Oliver and horses.  Of course, one also considers how that body meets mine, how that body meets the body of the spectator.

“an extremely moving piece.  The energy that Monk produces fills the entire theatre. Combining dance with dramatic elements creates a thrilling solo.” Morgan O’Neil Sharp

Le Recours aux forêts (2010)

Commissioned Choreographer: Serge Bennathan
Dancer: Davida Monk
Sound Design: Bertrand Chénier

Choreographer’s Note: Le recours aux forêts, is a return, a return to our instinct, to our soul. It is about truth and because of this it becomes, pour moi, a metaphor for the artist, for her instinct on stage and in society. This is what this work is:, a little grain of sand that wants to let open the door to a discussion about who is this artist performing.
Photographer Don Hall

“Le Recours aux forêts” by Serge Bennathan for Davida Monk
“Black box, white floor, bright light. Nothing more is necessary when a master like Serge Bennathan choreographs on an artist like Davida Monk. The product of this union is a rare pearl; Monk radiates presence, simultaneously inhabiting the empty space and letting the audience sink in to her somatic world. The sound of water and cicadas accompany Bennathan’s choreography, suggesting a nature environment. The structure and timing of the work give us time to sense Monk’s fine nervous system: lightning quick falls that collapse from stillness; fluttering arms and hands that seem to animate from another dimension; and creature-like crawls across the diagonal on all fours. How is it that Monk’s little jumps in first position with arms raised overhead speak so much? As a virtuosic, mature artist, Monk opens the way for the viewer to see beyond the physical movement and directly sense her self as a person and her experience as a performer. As such, Monk deepens the whole dance enterprise.” Mary Theresa Kelly, Vancouver

Under Cover of Darkness (2009)

Choreographer: Davida Monk
Commissioned by Land’s End Ensemble
Dancers: Hilary Maxwell/Davida Monk
Music: Habil-Sajahy, Franghiz Ali-Zadeh

Under Cover of Darkness explores the counterpoint of tensions in the musical score and confinement in the performers’ costume.  Commissioned and premiered by Land’s End Ensemble, this work was toured by the Prairie Dance Circuit in 2010.
Photographer Leif Norman

The Land Quartet (2009 – 2011)

Choreographer: Davida Monk
Dancers: Veronica Benz, Jenn Jaspar, Helen Husak, Hilary Maxwell
Composer: Allan Gordon Bell
Set Design: Douglas McCullough
Video: Arthur Nishimura
Lighting Design: Brian MacNeil

The Land Quartet is a four-part work that explores the relationship between human beings and the natural environment. Each dance is 20 – 25 minutes long. It is an ensemble work featuring a cast of four dancers and the integration of set, video and light design, as well as original scores by Allan Gordon Bell. Creation of this large-scale work began in 2009 and was generously support by the Canada Council of the Arts and Dancers’ Studio West.

Photographer Glen Co

Mountain (2009) explores a dramatically charged movement language expressive of the danger and remoteness of mountain heights. Dancers embody glacial and tectonic forces that shape and destroy.

Prairie (2009) draws its fluid movement and animalistic character from the spatial qualities, the music, and the embodied experience of the open prairie.

Forest (2010/2011) develops through a desire to move from rootedness.  It is driven by the human response to the beckoning forms, to the mystery and the dazzling beauty of the forest.

Meridians (2011) considers the landscape of the human body.  The movement language derives from pathways of the body’s design. The dancers discover the symbiosis of the inner and outer worlds, and the delight of embodiment.

Experiments in light & form (2008)

The Experiments consist of nine works: three solos, three duets and three trios all to piano music.

Choreographer: Davida Monk
Dancers: Naomi Brand, Lauren Deimer, Kirsten Wiren
Music: Grygori Ligeti, Howard BashawOlivier Messiaen
Lighting: Jean Philippe Trépanier

The Weathering Suite (2007)

Choreographer: Davida Monk
Dancers: Erin Cowan, Melissa Monteros, Christine Medina, Davida Monk, Johanna Riley
Music Advisor: Allan Gordon Bell
Lighting Design: Jean Philippe Trépanier
Set : Douglas McCullough
Costume : Engelina Wehnes

The Weathering Suite is a group of dances that flow seamlessly from one to the next, as do the elemental phenomena of the ever-changing sky.  Expressing an intimate rapport with the patterns of weather, the movement of the dancers fluctuates between an exchange of essential energies and a sensuous human response to them.  It is a contemplative ritual for five dancers.

“The ethereal opening, as a prayerful invocation of the Earth’s spirit, sets the tone for a work that is defined primarily by its sense of wonder.”  Holly Harris, Uptown Magazine, Winnipeg

LYRIC (2001)

Choreographer: Davida Monk
Dancers: Alanna Jones, Su-Lin Tseng
Musician: Bill Horist
Lighting Design: Jean Philippe Trépanier
Costume Design: Conroy Nachtigall
Acting Coach: Chris Hunt
Text Consultant: Jan Zwicky
Text: Lyric Philosophy, Jan Zwicky
Vocal Workshop: Richard Armstrong

LYRIC takes its cues from the work Lyric Philosophy by Jan Zwicky in which she champions the non-rational meanings wrought through the artistic process.  The dance poses questions about perception, language, chance, intellect and intuition as the dancers undergo transformations through discovery.  Voice work, props and set, movement and live treated-electric guitar are each integrated into the theatrical experience as a means of exploration.

“cyrstallized, subtle and visionary.”  Dena Davida, Tangente, 2001