Ruralesque, A performance that intersects contemporary dance, burlesque and Newfoundland and Labrador culture, premieres in Corner Brook.
The Covid 19 pandemic has resulted in stressful times for many working in the performing arts. But, there are silver linings as well. For our small ensemble, limited opportunities in big cities meant that dance artists could return ‘home’ to Newfoundland and Labrador to work in safe environments and share their skills with others. And, after two years, one result of this is Ruralesque. Presented by Corner Brook-based CandicePikeInMotion and the Arts and Culture Centre, the premiere of Ruralesque will happen at the Arts and Culture Centre on Tuesday, April 26, 2022 at 8:00pm.
Featuring three professional dancers who all got their start in Corner Brook - Candice Pike, Josh Murphy, and Hilary Knee and the support of NL theatre veteran Lois Brown - the show features an unlikely mix of contemporary dance, theatre games, burlesque performance and new takes on the stereotypical images and songs of Newfoundland and Labrador. The funny and touching hour-long performance highlights themes of belonging/not-belonging and how young people who were raised her during the time of the cod moratorium are coming to terms with their identities as Newfoundlanders.
Centering a queer perspective and ‘rural aesthetics’ the hour-long show features a number of vignettes with titles like “A Gay Foggy Day,” “Reverse Mummering,” and “Lobster Mating Dance.” There are some old favourite songs, along with new recordings and mash-ups by Corner Brook’s own Bridget Swift, plus a special musical guest star who’s going to ‘play something we all knows.’
But just as important as the stories and jokes in the show was our working process and how we came together as multiple generations of artists and as a community of arts supporters to develop something we think will resonate with audiences. Josh Murphy notes: “Working in a room with late career, mid, and just past emerging artists allows for such different conversations, varying ways of attacking the work, and an even more exciting final product.”
Performer/Creator Hilary Knee, who moved away from Corner Brook as a teen to pursue professional dance training but has recently returned shares: “I feel incredibly grateful that my dance work has brought me home to NL, and that I get to be a part of Ruralesque, a project that has been made in NL, that is about NL, and brought to fruition by artists who have all chosen to be at home and share their artistic work with communities both near and far.”
And as the province of NL pursues its Come Home Year initiative, we are all happy that local audiences, whether from here or away, will get the opportunity to see something that may have them rethinking all of those quaint NL tourism ads!