By KIRSTEN BOLTON
Highlighted by Stir digital magazine as one of the most stand-out Vancouver theatre moments in 2021, Graveyards and Gardens is the collaborative performance installation conceived, created and performed by Pulitzer Prize-winning musician and composer Caroline Shaw and award-winning choreographer and contemporary dance artist Vanessa Goodman. The performance comes to ArtSpring on Thursday, Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m. and includes a post-show “talk-back.”
Part dance, part concert, part analog, part digital, the experience has been heralded as “mesmerizing” and “highly innovative.” Unlike 2021 audiences who had to stream it online due to the pandemic, Salt Springers will greatly benefit from taking in this memorable, experimental performance live and in person.
“Memorable” is a fitting description. The work examines, as its theme, exactly that — memory. The duo’s creative conceit is that memory is a process of reconstruction rather than an exact recall of fixed events, and when we remember and recall, we are embracing the various elaborations, distortions and omissions that get laid down and repeated.
From a stage minimally dressed with its loops of orange sound cable, vintage record and cassette players, thrift-store lamps and green houseplants, Goodman commands as the sole dancer. The lines between dance and music start to dissolve as muscle memory of the body is echoed by loops of music, voice, samples of old recordings replayed, technological filters, static and distortions, all layered into a dazzling composition that evokes how our brains and bodies remember.
Shaw is a New York-based musician — vocalist, violinist, composer and producer — who performs in solo and collaborative projects. She is the youngest-ever recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for Music, which she was awarded in 2013. Shaw has studied at Rice, Yale and Princeton, currently teaches at NYU, and is a creative associate at the Juilliard School.
Goodman is an SFU alumni and currently the artistic director of Action at a Distance Dance Society. She has received several awards and honours, including The Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award, The Schultz Endowment from Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, and the Space to Fail program in New Zealand, Australia and Vancouver.
Shaw and Goodman will also lead a workshop on Wednesday, Feb. 15 at ArtSpring at 5 p.m. It will explore the collaboration between sound and movement and work with themes of repetition, decomposition and regeneration. The $20 session is limited to 25 people. Register through ArtSpring.