The SWP Presents 2021 Publications: Music and Choreography


Dance and musical improvisation are both ephemeral expressions. In the words of novelist Milan Kundera, they call to mind a certain “lightness of being” and urge us to embrace the moment in thoughtful joy. In 2021, authors and artists published by the Small Walker Press explore the theme of “Music and Choreography.”

Paul Savoie (text) and Mélanie Mesager (choreography). Arc, a choreographed poem. St. Catharines, ON / Vienna, Austria: Small Walker Press / Salon für Kunstbuch, 2021.
Graphic design by Bernhard Cella. ISBN 978-1-7771450-5-7

Devon Fornelli (music notation) and Thomas Ayouti (creative writing). Improvising Places / Improvising Time, with essays by Derek Knight and Matthew Royal. St. Catharines, ON / Vienna, Austria: Small Walker Press / Salon für Kunstbuch, 2021.
Graphic design by Bernhard Cella. ISBN 978-1-7771450-6-4

2021 Publication: Arc a Choreographed Poem

“Arc” by award-winning author Paul Savoie is a poem which captures the pensive impressions of a moment and is suffused with a quiet musicality. Savoie’s passion for and practice of music inform this long melancholy song. Mélanie Mesager, a French dancer and scholar in contemporary dance, selected a few passages (in bold in Savoie’s text) and, for these, invented a choreography to accompany the poem. Mesager’s choreographic marks do not belong to existing systems of choreographic notation; they are a distinct creation that preserves her personal reaction to an intimate text. Her notes, translated by Nicholas Hauck, provide insight into her approach. A dancer responds to a poem, translates it into embodied movement, in a language as secret as the poet’s.

editor’s notes

“I am first struck by the thoughtful and inventive design that Bernhard Cella has brought to the task of how to capture sound and movement on the printed page. The overlay of Paul Savoie’s poem and Mélanie Mesager’s choreographic notes in Arc, a choreographed poem gives rise to a palimpsest in which the lines of the poem are visually integrated with the handwritten and drawn symbols of the dance’s progression in time.”
– Derek Knight, The Small Walker Press

editor’s notes

“We are grateful to all contributors for their creative work and their collegial approach: Devon Fornelli, Thomas Ayouti, Matthew Royal, and David Sharron who gave us permission to use images from Archives and Special Collections, Brock University;  as well as to Paul Savoie, Mélanie Mesager, and translator Nicholas Hauck.”
– Catherine Parayre, The Small Walker Press

2021 Publication: Improvising Places / Improvising Time

Dance and musical improvisation are ephemeral expressions urging us to embrace the moment in thoughtful joy. Devon Fornelli’s improvisations documented here are two performances: his CitySounds, created on 18 September 2015 for the opening of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines, Ontario; and his Garden Performance, five years later, on 9 May 2020, offered as a reflection on the COVID-19 pandemic and the temporary lockdown of the MIWSFPA. This documentation includes music notations, three short essays and the only remaining photograph of Fornelli’s improv’ in September 2015. Thomas Ayouti’s short story ‘Aux corps cassés’ – roughly translated, ‘broken bodies’ – offers a counterpoint to Fornelli’s practice. Thematizing the creation of a dance performance, the narrative grows, gains speed, intertwines the dancers’ movements and the narrator’s loving characterization of his friend. Whereas Fornelli’s improvisations express the persisting flow of our environment, Ayouti’s piece follows the fervid crescendo of emotions.

editor’s notes

“With our second publication Improvising Places / Improvising Time the clever interplay between the cover and the inside jacket, in which the image and its verso or negative, establish the Welland Canal as the locus generis of the Niagara soundscape. The improvisational aspect of Devon Fornelli’s key performance is captured in his compositional notes that are meticulously reproduced as a score of a live outdoor performance where his musical instruments are listed in relation to the environmental sounds they respond to.”
– Derek Knight, The Small Walker Press

Editor’s notes

“Together with book designer Bernhard Cella, Derek Knight and I decided to take all sorts of risks with these two books: we used an avant-garde font that will make purists scream; we printed choreography over text; we mixed French and English; we printed one book in a greenish black to make it look glaucous; we even asked (a capital sin!) a performer to provide the music notation of an… improv’. We are mighty happy to break rules everywhere we can. The books are gorgeous!”
– Catherine Parayre, The Small Walker Press


Devon Fornelli’s improv’ Garden Performance, 9 May 2020

How to Order the 2021 Small Walker Press Books

To order Arc, a choreographed poem and Improvising Places / Improvising Time, please visit the SWP website.

Small Walker Press
Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture
Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts
Brock University
Niagara Region, Canada

Contact: Catherine Parayre (