May 4 - 6, 2023
Left of Main, 211 Keefer Street, Vancouver
Presented by plastic orchid factory in partnership with Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Festival (ExplorAsian)
and Chinatown Storytelling Centre
Choreographer / Writer / Performer - Andrea Nann
Shadow Artist / Performer - Annie Katsura Rollins
Director/Creative Contributor - Sarah Chase
Dramaturg - Cindy Mochizuki
Sound Design & Composition - Ben Grossman
Lighting Designer - Jennifer Lennon
Video Animations - Elysha Poirier
Director of Video Content/Editor - Henry Mak
Director of Photography - Eric Chan
Production and Stage Manager - A.J. Morra
Left of Main House Technician - June Hsu
Performance time is approximately 60 minutes
The creation of this work was generously supported by the Dance Artist in Residence program at Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity and by National Ballet of Canada's CreativAction Open Space program. Firehorse & Shadow was originally commissioned by CanAsian Dance for its 2020 KickStart program.
Thank you to designer Cheryl Lalonde, partners plastic orchid factory, Chinatown Storytelling Centre, ExploreAsian (VAHMS), Kelsi James, Beverly Nann, Andy Maize, Natalie Lefebvre Gnam, James Gnam, April Liu, Jasper Sloan Yip, Yasuhito Okata, Sophia Mai Wolfe, Dan Loan, Donna Spencer and Firehall Arts Centre, Laura Cournoyea, Maurisa and Sue, Adina Herling, Michelle Silagy, Brianna Bernard, CanAsian Dance, Acces Asie, and to Brendan Wyatt and Sahara Morimoto for sharing and inspiring joy and playfulness throughout this process.
*Beverly Nann’s interview footage is extracted from ‘Saltwater City’ (1986) Director/Producer: Douglas Nicolle, Associate Producer: Carol Ann Lee, Writer: Paddy McCallum, Host: Ramona Ma. A Spectra Communications production in association with CBC
Firehorse and Shadow, is a performance work situated in Vancouver’s Historic Chinatown. It exists as a set of stories combining elements of contemporary dance, shadow puppetry, animation, film, and theatre. The stories belong to choreographer Andrea Nann whose great-grandmother Mew Lee was ‘sold’ by her family in China and sent to Vancouver as a servant girl in early 1900. Mew gave birth to Nann’s grandmother Lin in Vancouver’s Shanghai Alley in 1912. Although Lin never left Vancouver she was forced to identify as a Chinese citizen when she married a Chinese man. Nann’s mother Bev was born during Canada’s Chinese Exclusion Act. She was taught to value assimilation during times of extreme anti-Chinese attitudes.
Firehorse and Shadow brings forward embodied, felt and often untold stories focusing on but not limited to the lived experiences of Chinese Canadian women. In this work intangible experiences are given form through Nann’s embodied familial histories process that has been developed in collaboration with core collaborators: director/dance-storyteller Sarah Chase; dramaturge/visual artist Cindy Mochizuki; and shadow artist/performer Annie Katsura Rollins. The work explores memory, sensation, perception, personal histories, relationships, cosmology, Chinese medicine, food, and fate.
The work can also be experienced online at www.firehorseandshadow.com
At Dreamwalker it is our intent that everyone feels invited, wanted, and welcomed to participate in our events and activities. We continue to do the work to listen, learn, unlearn, and relearn in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, in response to the Black Lives Matter Movement, and in recognition of all past and present atrocities, persecution and mistreatment of people based on their ethnicity, culture, place of origin, race, ancestry, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical appearance, and/or (dis)ability. We stand in solidarity with all who are facing or have faced persecution or discrimination, and are working to create a supportive, safe and equitable world. We are honoured to live, work and create in Toronto/Tkarón:to, on Dish With One Spoon Indigenous Territory and acknowledge the Land as Traditional Territory of many Nations including the Haudenosaunee, the Anishnabeg, the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Chippewa, and the Wendat Peoples.
Andrea Nann is a contemporary dance artist, arts educator, founding artistic director of Dreamwalker Dance Company, and creator of Conscious Bodies Methodology®, an embodied community practice. Andrea dances to reach across distance, to experience others in celebration of possibility, diversity, connection and belonging; believing that dance can shift attitudes and ways of being, tuning us into what makes each of us distinct, to what we share, and ultimately how we can live together in wonderment and peace. Through her work Andrea enlivens Dreamwalker's invitation to awaken and experience oneself in relationship with Self, Others, Environment and All that Is. A graduate of York University’s Department of Fine Arts, Andrea was a member of the Danny Grossman Dance Company for 15 years. Over a 34-year career she has contributed to the creation of new works by over 70 dance and theatre creators from across Turtle Island. In 2016 Ontario Contact recognized Andrea as Artist of the Year for contributions to the Performing Arts touring sector in Ontario, and in 2019 she received a Dora Mavor Moore Award for Outstanding Performance by an Individual in Dance.
Annie Katsura Rollins
Annie is a Chinese/Japanese/English/Irish theatre maker, arts researcher and community artist. She incorporates ethnographic research and apprenticeship into her work, with particular interest in traditional puppet forms in Asia and their intersection with ritual practice and community building. She was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to canvas Mainland China for the last remaining shadow puppet artists in 2011 and named valedictorian in 2019 for her PhD on the possibilities of preserving intangible performative culture at Concordia University. Annie lives in Toronto and co-curates at Concrete Cabaret, an experimental performing object collective, and is a community arts manager at MABELLE Arts. She is a metal monkey who partnered with a fire snake, and together they are raising a fire monkey and a metal ox - her family is her favorite menagerie. www.anniekatsurarollins.com
Sarah has performed her dancestory work across Canada and Europe. She also toured with both Benôit Lachambre’s Dance par B. Lieux, and with German choreographer Raimund Hoghe. Her many works created for Canadian artists include Toronto Dance Theatre, Peggy Baker, Andrea Nann, Theatre Replacement, AntonijaLivingstone, Montreal Danse, and Marc Boivin. She is the recipient of the Jacqueline Lemieux Award for Excellence from the Canada Council for the Arts, and received the Prize of the Festival at the Munich Dance Biennale. The solos she created for both Peggy Baker, and Andrea Nann won Doras. She is an associate dance artist of the Canadian National Arts Centre. Sarah loves waking up to the chorus of frogs under the stars, the dawn chorus of birds in the spring, and the several generations of deer she has come to know while living on Hornby Island.
Cindy Mochizuki creates multi-media installation, audio fiction, performance, animation, drawings and community-engaged projects. She has exhibited, performed and screened her work in Canada, US, Australia, and Japan. Recent exhibitions include the Nanaimo Art Gallery, Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Vancouver Art Gallery, Frye Art Museum, and Yonago City Museum. She received the Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award in New Media and Film (2015) and the Jack and Doris Shadbolt Foundation for the Visual Arts VIVA Award (2020). Cindy is grateful to be part of this process working with the amazing team who have come together to create Fire Horse and Shadow.
Based in Toronto, A.J. is a graduate of the Technical Theatre Program at Toronto Metropolitan University, and has enjoyed an active career as a Technical Director, Production Manager, and Stage Manager for contemporary dance, opera, circus, and theatre. Selected credits include three seasons with Toronto Dance Theatre, and assorted projects with ProArte Danza, Groundling Theatre Company, Holla Jazz, Zero Gravity Circus, Canadian Contemporary Dance Theatre, Soundstreams, and Signal Theatre. A.J. has been working with Dreamwalker Dance Company since 2016.
Ben Grossman is a busy musician and sound artist: improviser, studio musician, composer, and noisemaker. He works in many fields, having played on over 100 CDs, soundtracks for film and television, composition and sound design for theatre, dance, installations, work designed for radio transmission, and live performances spanning early medieval music to experimental electronics. Ben's tools of choice are electronics, percussion, and especially, the vielle à roue (hurdy gurdy), a contemporary electro-acoustic string instrument with roots in the European middle ages. Through extended techniques, and sometimes electronic processing, Ben seeks to use it as a physical interface into sound creation, spontaneous composition and the exploration of acoustics, form and extended aesthetics. www.macrophone.org
Jennifer Lennon is an award-winning lighting designer for live performance. She has designed for Soulpepper, Tarragon, Factory Theatre, Theatre Passe Muraille, Opera Atelier, Opera 5, and the Shaw Festival, among many others, in venues ranging from the venerable Ed Mirvish Theatre (Idomeneo, Opera Atelier) to a repurposed shipping container (The Container, Theatre Fix). Some other favourites include Yaga (Tarragon), Besbouss (Pleiades), and Almighty Voice and His Wife (Soulpepper). She is a graduate of York University, and a member of the Associated Designers of Canada. As a child, she could usually be found building forts or making noise, and nothing has changed. Her most recent fort is a makeshift home recording studio, filled with string lights and an eclectic jumble of musical instruments. Since early 2021, Jennifer has also been engaged as a Project Coordinator for Wildsight, a non-profit organization working to protect biodiversity and encourage sustainable communities in Canada’s Columbia and Rocky Mountain regions. She is based in British Columbia.
Elysha Poirier is a multidisciplinary artist working in animation, film and video for live performance. Combining digital and analog sources she creates intrinsic worlds of their own reflected in mixed media and 3D environments. Based in Montreal, Elysha is currently experimenting with 3D generative design platforms, and experimental web design. She's realized a wide range of installations and engaged in live performances for dance, experimental music, film, theatre and web. Elysha is also a core-collaborator with Dreamwalker Dance Company since 2009. www.elyshapoirier.com
*Photo: From left to right - Jacob, Joscelyn and Elysha at Enniskillen Park
Henry Mak is a videographer, editor, and director who has been working in the worlds of dance and theatre. He is interested in how gesture, presence and moment translate to the filmed image and in learning to offer ways of seeing and bearing respectful witness in the search for images that are “of” and “with”. He treasures his experiences working with Dreamwalker Dance Company, the Canadian Music Centre, Litmus Theatre, and the Toronto Fringe. He is filming and editing a dance film which will screen as part of CanAsian Dance’s Grit Short Dances program as well as filming and editing a series of videos and collaborating on livestreams for MABELLEarts.
Eric’s passion for the arts started early in theatre production. Having graduated from the Ryerson University program for Performance Production, he found his early years working with theatre, dance, and event companies. He later found work in television, where his newfound passion for creating from behind the lens grew. Over the years, Eric has been given the opportunity to collaborate with artists in the performance arts, even running into old friends along the way. He feels like in many ways, his journey has brought him back to his original love.