Articles tagged with: david vivian

  • Meaningful Movements Reshape: Come to the Edge at Brock University and the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre

    (From: The Sound, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 5, 2019 | by Kerry Duncan)

    Being invited into a space not built by you, or for you, offers the inherent need for trust and vulnerability. When audiences entered into the Come to the Edge Cafe on August 24/25 at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, audience members were transported to a land of imagination built by, and for, wheelchair users with Cerebral Palsy (CP). This evolving storyscape replaced the traditional confines of theatre with an unlimited creation of shape and space, prioritizing the communication options for performers and participants with CP. The team working on this production aimed to foster an empathetic and reflective space for participants to sit in a potential level of unknown, discomfort, and to ultimately trust that they could not necessarily know the answers to questions like ‘Where are we? What’s it like to not know exactly what’s happening around you? What’s it like when you have to re-evaluate the things that don’t exactly apply?’.

    Come to the Edge is a collaborative development of immersive theatre, creating a new understanding of performance through dance, play, and improvisation. The central performance elements built by and for the Imagining Possibilities Leadership Team, made up of automatic and manual wheelchair users with CP. The group has been working with St. Catharines based creative collaborators from the March of Dimes Canada and the Brain Injury Community PET (Personal Effectiveness Training) Re-Entry Program to welcome audiences to trust in the idea that ‘not knowing’ is an opportunity for learning and empathy. The performances are supported by facilitators Jenny Jimenez and Stephen Sillett from Toronto-based organization, Aiding Dramatic Change in Development (ADCID), as well as a much broader team of musicians, artists, and support workers.

    With a long-standing history in St. Catharines, the ADCID has been working with the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine & Performing Arts (MIWSFPA) since 2016 with the first iteration of Imagining Possibilities, the precursor to Come to the Edge. As a facility that was built under the universal standards of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) for inclusive physically spaces, this began a longstanding partnership for reshaping how St. Catharines builds and understands performance theatre. Professor David Vivian, Director of the MIWSFPA and an ongoing collaborator with ADCID explained that “Inviting the lead artistic team to join us and local artists in our first spring season at the MIWSFPA theatre was one of the highlights of our inaugural year in 2015-16. Come to the Edge is a long term project that has continued to develop over the years and bring together artists in a number of Ontario communities”.

    The development of the show over the past several years has taken this community and discussions about it global with performances and workshops in Toronto, Belgium, Prague, Hamilton and St. Catharines. Connecting with the Imaging Possibilities Movement through the Engaging Possibilities project at Brock University in 2015, Kris Daunoravicius has been involved with the growth and evolution of this project ever since. A local to St. Catharines and core member of the Leadership Team, Daunoravicus travelled with the ADCID team to Belgium in 2017 for a week of Envisioned Scenography workshops for the disability-focused Huize Eyckerheyde Residence. In speaking with Daunoravicus and Elaine Drover, another member of the Leadership Team, both utilized a range of augmented technology, body movement, facial expressions, and sound to showcase the range of experiences and stories that were being brought into the creative process during the years of work it took to create the latest version of this production.

    In speaking with Come to the Edge performer and ADCID collaborator, Frank Hull and long-time Leadership Team member Laura Leskur, they shared how the creation of this show was rooted in growing one another’s understandings of the other performers, and building a movement vocabulary unique to each performer and each moment of interaction. With a long-term career as a professional wheelchair dancer, Hull spoke to the multiple layers of relationality and equity between those involved in the show, “there has to be those moments where we are becoming equal together, regardless of how my ability may be different from Laura’s. But if we are moving together, we need to find a way to move together and not overpower one another”.

    As a verbal CP performer, he explained that “my world is very instant when I communicate. What I’m learning with this group is I’m facing my own ableism. It got me thinking about how from my role I have not been patient enough, not just with this group”. He elaborated on his reflections of needing to be more cognizant of not finishing other people’s sentences, but instead, learned to give people time to communicate within their abilities in order to share and explain their perspectives on the situation. Utilizing her bespoke communication board system*, Leskur also elaborated on these points, highlighting the necessity for patience as to “not miss the magical moments” and the necessity of utilizing body movements and the range of abilities in each performers arms and legs to construct meaningful exchanges.

    In discussing the necessity of moving towards an inclusive way of facilitating theatre for the performers, Sillett explained that “we created the processes with the community of those who are non-verbal in mind. There’s a lot of routes we could take which would be much easier to get an impact in the short-term, but it wasn’t our aim to go there. Our aim was to try and work honouring the deep engagement. The idea of re-establishing the relationship between the audience, and what their journey is going to be, the community making it”. Hull asserted that his role in adding the movement and dance elements to the show has been “a dream come true to work with manual and power wheelchairs to create movement together,” emphasizing the liberation of spaces focused on the lived experiences of the team rather than a more traditional methodology of prioritizing the audience.

    In reflecting on his work with the Imagining Possibilities Movement, Vivian explained how “my specific interests in working with the company lie in aspects of accessibility, universal design and the development process of improvisational, immersive performance spaces under very specific conditions. It has been a very humbling learning experience that we will adapt for my university course development and professional practice”. Breaking from the expected traditions of theatre development, the broad range of creative in communities in St. Catharines can take the fundamental ideas of change to expand who is in the audience, who is on stage, and how can we expand the experiences and interactions between these world.

    *Laura Leskur’s communication board is a bespoke system created at Bloorview and extended over the years. Laura has now memorized 1000 words with corresponding numbers. Elaine Drover and and Christine Jimenez have experience using Blissymbols to communicate. Blissymbolics is a semantic graphical language that is currently composed of more than 5000 authorized symbols – Bliss-characters and Bliss-words. It is a generative language that allows its users to create new Bliss-words as needed. It is used by individuals with severe speech and physical impairments around the world, but also by others for language learning and support, or just for the fascination and joy of this unique language representation. Elaine and Christine are both on the Board for Bliss Communication Institute Canada. See blissymbolics.org for more information.

    [The creators and producers of Come to the Edge wish to thank the Department of Dramatic Arts of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, Brock University, for the generosity of their support by providing rehearsal space and technical support in the studios and the MIW Theatre through July and August 2019.

    The article was edited and amended for accuracy and reprinted with permission.]

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    Categories: Department/Centre News, Events, Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, News, Uncategorised

  • MIWSFPA welcomes Elizabeth Vlossak as Director

    Associate Professor of History Elizabeth Vlossak will take on the role of Interim Director of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts on July 1.

    (adapted from The Brock News, Sunday, June 03, 2018 | by )

    Associate Professor of History Elizabeth Vlossak will be become Interim Director of the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts on July 1 when current Director David Vivian begins a year-long sabbatical.

    “I’m really looking forward to continuing to strengthen our community partnerships and perhaps develop new ones,” says Vlossak. “I’m thinking of ways to bridge the Humanities so that there is more interaction and collaboration between the MIWSFPA and other departments on the main campus.”

    Being a historian, Vlossak says she loves how “the city’s past has been preserved in a way that is relevant to the present, while also looking to the future,” in terms of the MIWSFPA building. But the school isn’t just the building. “It’s the people — students, faculty and staff — doing incredible work that enriches Brock as well as St. Catharines and the Niagara region.”

    Vlossak’s research area is 20th century European history, with particular interest in cultural history during the two world wars, women’s history, gender and nationalism, and memory and the politics of commemoration.

    She is a founding member and Associate Fellow of The History Lab, a collaboration with the Niagara Falls Military Museum, Seedling for Change in History, and Associate Professor Maria del Carmen Suescun Pozas.

    Vlossak has also consulted with the Department of Dramatic Arts on two Mainstage productions, Ring Around the Moon (2006) and The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (2016), sharing her research specialization with students and contributing to their successful performances.

    “The executive of the school is particularly excited by Associate Professor Vlossak’s record of community engagement through undertakings such as The History Lab,” says Vivian. “We look forward to her contribution to existing programming and relationship building with our community partners, as well as her unique new initiatives.”

    “I’m very pleased that Professor Vlossak is willing to take on the role of Interim Director of the MIWSFPA,” says Faculty of Humanities Dean Carol Merriam. “Professor Vlossak is an active, energetic, and imaginative teacher and scholar, and will bring those same qualities to the work of the School.”

    Vivian, Associate Professor with the Department of Dramatic Arts, has been Director of the MIWSFPA since 2016. Previously he was Director of the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture (3 years) and Chair of the Department of Dramatic Arts (4 years). He teaches theatrical design, production and stagecraft and has designed sets and costumes for Department mainstage productions.

    “The directorship is an unusual job involving work with faculty, staff, students and external partners, and Professor Vivian has balanced all of these demands very effectively,” says Merriam. “I wish him well of his rightly-deserved sabbatical.”

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    Categories: Announcements, Department/Centre News, Faculty & Instructors, News

  • Brock alumni, faculty and staff among St. Catharines Arts Awards nominees

    (Source: The Brock News, Monday, May 01, 2017 | by Alison Innes)

     

    Several members of the Brock community are being recognized for their impact on the local arts scene.

    Brock alumni, staff and faculty have earned a number of nominations for this year’s St. Catharines Arts Awards, which recognize outstanding contributions to the arts in the Garden City.

    Visual artist Lauren Regier (BA ’14), costume designer Jo Pacinda (BA ’13) and the Twitches & Itches Theatre group, run mainly by alumni, are among those in the running for the 2017 Emerging Artist award.

    Gordon Cleland, a professor with Brock’s Department of Music and principal cellist with the Niagara Symphony, and Brock dramatic arts professor Danielle Wilson, co-founder and co-artistic director of Stolen Theatre Collective, have both been nominated for the Established Artist Award.

    Earning a nomination in the Making a Difference category is Gregory Betts, a poet and professor with the Department of English Language and Literature, and Marcie Bronson, Acting Director and Curator at Rodman Hall Art Centre.

    Rodman Hall itself has also been nominated in the Arts in Education category.

    Seeing that high level of recognition bestowed upon members of the Brock community creates a sense of pride in anyone affiliated with the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts (MIWSFPA), said MIWSFPA Director David Vivian.

    The accomplishments of alumni help to reaffirm the work that staff and faculty of the arts school are doing to support the arts in Niagara, he said.

    Regier, a graduate from Brock’s Department of Visual Arts, feels participation in the local arts scene is key.

    “Some of the best people and institutions in St. Catharines have positioned themselves to be generously receptive of new ideas, artwork and dialogue,” she said.

    “When it comes to contributing to the arts community post-graduation, it’s our willingness to attend talks and shows by people we don’t know, or to introduce and guide newcomers — that truly makes one an accessible and valued member of the cultural community.”

    Regier is being recognized for her work, which explores the relationship between nature and machines through photography, video, performance and installation art.

    Pacinda, a Brock theatre graduate and aspiring costume designer who works with a number of theatre companies in Niagara, has always dreamed of not just starting but building her theatre career in the region.

    “This nomination means I’m headed on the right path with that,” she said.

    Her recent work includes company costumer and design assistant for Essential Collective Theatre and wardrobe assistant for Theatre Project, Foster Festival and Twitches & Itches.

    Pacinda said her Brock experience has helped to to get involved and give back to the local arts community.

    “The overall support the school has for its current students, alumni and staff is really fantastic,” she said. “It’s with all this support that alumni are able to contribute and help build the St. Catharines art scene.”

    The Arts Awards were first presented in 2005 to celebrate artists and supporters in St. Catharines, while also cultivating support for the arts sector.

    Awards are given out in five categories: Arts in Education, Emerging Artist, Established Artist, Making a Difference and Patron of the Arts.

    This year’s recipients will be announced during an evening of performances on Monday, June 5 at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre.

    A full list of nominees and more information on their work and contributions is available online.

    Tickets for the awards ceremony and arts celebration are available at the centre box office by calling 1-855-515-0722.

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    Categories: Alumni, Announcements, Faculty & Instructors, In the Media, News

  • Brock thanks Rotary Club of St. Catharines with new Reflecting Pool at downtown Walker School

    (Source: The Brock News, Thursday, October 20, 2016 | by )

    The bond between Brock University and the Rotary Club of St. Catharines became a bit tighter today when Brock formally dedicated the Rotary Reflecting Pool at its Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts in downtown St. Catharines.

    Under a drizzly fall sky, representatives from Rotary, the University and the City joined students and local residents for the first look at the new artistic water feature as it was unveiled during a midday ceremony.

    The University dedicated the pool to recognize St. Catharines Rotary’s support in helping Brock locate its arts school into a restored industrial heritage site. In doing so, the Walker School became a key factor in the city centre’s economic and cultural revival, alongside other major downtown projects the Meridian Centre and FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, which also received support from the Rotary Club of St. Catharines.

    In 2011, as Brock was seeking government and community help to relocate the MIWSFPA from its main campus into the city’s core, the Rotary Club of St. Catharines announced it would donate $100,000 to the cause, the club’s largest single gift in its nearly-100-year history.

    Over the next four years the school took shape in an award-winning project that integrated new construction with a carefully refurbished textile mill dating to the 19th century. The project — made possible by a $26-million investment from the Province of Ontario, and provision of the former industrial site from the City of St. Catharines — was opened in the fall of 2015.

    Set amidst modernist sculptures in a greenspace beside the Walker School, the Rotary Reflecting Pool’s gently flowing current echoes the tranquility of a semi-private space that can be used by students and by members of the public.

    Brock’s Interim President Tom Traves said the University is very pleased to partner with an organization like Rotary on an investment that will benefit not just students but citizens all across Niagara.

    “Just as the Welland Canal contributed to the life of the City many years ago, the Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts and the Performing Arts Centre are contributing to its revitalization,” said Traves. “As we stand in this space, we further transform this area and we thank Rotary for its support of Brock.”

    Rotary Club of St. Catharines President George Darte said the club agreed to contribute such a large sum because the Brock project represented a historic opportunity that the community could not afford to miss out on.

    “Our members are dedicated to the vitality and the prosperity of the community,” said Darte. “Through our support to the Marilyn I Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, we are delighted to be nurturing the next generation of artists and performers here in St. Catharines, while at the same time contributing to the revitalization of our downtown core.”

    Liz Palmieri, the Rotary Club of St. Catharines past president, who was chair of the club’s Major Grants Committee at the time of the gift, said club members knew what they had to do.

    “We felt strongly about our commitment to the arts in our community,” said Palmieri, “and we are proud to be major supporters of an institution that embodies the vision of Marilyn I Walker, one of our community’s finest citizens, artists and philanthropists.  It is a fitting tribute to her memory.”

    Like the Walker School project itself, the pool’s actual creation is the result of many parties working together.

    It was designed in a collaboration between Scott Roper, of Brock Campus Planning, Design and Construction; David Vivian, Director of the MIWSFPA; Arie Shipper of Merit Contractors; and Wally Healey and Brian McLeod of Stevensville Lawn Service, with artist Elizabeth Chitty who consulted on details of local history and geography.

    The project’s strong focal point occurs where the water flows through a metal grate fashioned by Fenwick blacksmith Ken Robertson. The grate consists of a series of panels set at different angles, representing the hillsides of the Walker School’s valley setting, as well as iron cutouts to portray Twelve Mile Creek, the Niagara River, the Welland Canal and the Raceway which used to course through the property on which the Walker School now stands.

    The following message is on a plaque beside the new water feature:

    The Rotary Reflecting Pool is dedicated to the Rotary Club of St. Catharines and to the historical significance of the original Welland Canal which was located nearby. Rotary’s support for this place of tranquility and creative reflection for students and the community is an investment in arts and culture that celebrates the revitalization of the St. Catharines downtown core.

    There are over 1.2 million Rotarians worldwide whose motto is “Service Above Self.” Rotarians are dedicated to important global causes including the quest to eradicate polio, education, clean drinking water, assistance for mothers and children, and numerous other initiatives. 

    The Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts occupies the historic 1880’s Canada Haircloth Building and 1940’s storage shed near what was once the third lock of the first Welland Canal. Water was diverted from the canal along the north side of the building to provide electrical power to the mill. The Welland Canal transformed the local economy and navigation of the entire region.

     

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    Categories: In the Media, News

  • Vivian named director of Brock arts school

    (Source: Niagara Falls Review, Wednesday, May 11, 2016 | By John Law)

    The new director of Brock University’s Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts enjoys a “pinch me” moment every now and then.

    When David Vivian arrived in Niagara in 2004, culture was struggling and downtown St. Catharines felt stagnant. Now, both are generating national attention. “It’s a fantastic progression since 2004,” he says. “I can’t believe that we have both a new (Marilyn I. Walker) school facility and new performing arts centre downtown here.

    “That’s a huge jump in capacity for this city, to both hear the stories of others and to tell its own stories.”

    Vivian, currently chairman of Brock’s Department of Dramatic Arts, begins a three-year term at the school July 1. The school opened in its new downtown location last September in a former 19th century textile factory at 15 Artists’ Common. With about 500 students, the $45 million building houses Brock’s visual arts, music, drama and culture programs.

    Vivian replaces Derek Knight, who helped oversee the new school’s construction and implementation through its first year of classes. Knight will be taking a oneyear sabbatical from Brock. With the building’s first year winding down, Vivian says there’s a “great foundation” to build on in Year Two.

    “We’ve got some excellent, first rate programs,” he says. “First on my list is to communicate these opportunities to future students here in the Niagara region, the GTA and internationally.”

    He will also strengthen the already crucial link with the nearby FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre, and increase the school’s role in the evolving downtown.

    “It’s about finding the right place for the school in the heart of the city,” he says. “We understand ourselves to be part of a larger project of the downtown revitalization. We’re all terribly proud of St. Catharines.”

    Vivian was recognized with the Humanities Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2009, and recognized by the city, province and country for his work as chairman of the St. Catharines Culture Committee in 2011. He studied art and art history at the University of Toronto and Sheridan College, and has an MA in fine arts from the University of British Columbia.

    Vivian is eager to import new students to help become the “cultural fabric” of the region.

    But he also wants to keep the school part of the Brock community, despite the space between them now.

    “We have a lot of relationship building to do with the rest of the university,” he says. “Bringing us from the main campus has broken an immediacy and a knowledge of each other.”

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    Categories: In the Media, News

  • Director of cSTAC and DART Professor honoured for his contribution to the City of St. Catharines

    Pictured left to right are Professor Debra Maclauchlan and Associate Professor Peter Vietgen (Faculty of Education), Associate Professor David Vivian and Assistant Professor Virginia Reh (Department of Dramatic Arts, Faculty of Humanities)

    Pictured left to right are Professor Debra Maclauchlan and Associate Professor Peter Vietgen (Faculty of Education), Associate Professor David Vivian and Assistant Professor Virginia Reh (Department of Dramatic Arts, Faculty of Humanities)

    Associate Professors Peter Vietgen (Visual Arts Education in the Department of Teacher Education, Faculty of Education) and David Vivian (Department of Dramatic Arts and the Centre for Studies in Arts and Culture, Marilyn I. Walker School of Fine and Performing Arts, Faculty of Humanities) were each presented with three Volunteer Recognition Certificates from the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario, and the City of St. Catharines, at the 23rd Annual Volunteer Recognition Night co-sponsored by the City of St. Catharines, the St. Catharines-Thorold Chamber of Commerce, and the Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery.

    Professor Vietgen was nominated by the Niagara Artist’s Centre for his contribution to the Public Art Advisory Committee of the City of St. Catharines. Professor Vivian was nominated for his service over four years as Chair of the Culture Committee of the City of St. Catharines.  Both Committees of Council are actively engaged in developing new policy, advocacy, funding, recognition and opportunities in the arts and culture sector, contributing to the creation of stimulating and sustainable culturally-rich lives in the city of St. Catharines.

    Given annually, the Volunteer Recognition Awards recognize those outstanding volunteers whose unselfish and dedicated service to an organization has made a significant difference in the community. Nominations are open to youth and adult volunteers, who are presented with their awards at a banquet hosted by the Mayor and councillors in April. This year the banquet was held at the Quality Hotel Parkway Convention Centre on Tuesday, April 19, 2011.

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    Categories: Faculty & Instructors, News

  • Earp Dance at Brock Nuit Blanche 2010

    earpresidenceFor those of you unable to attend Nuit Blanche Brock this year, check out the short video above to see dancers Shannon Perugino and Jessica Goncalves of the Department of Dramatic Arts perform on the beautifully lit top floor of Earp Student Residence at Brock University.   The original piece was performed every half hour from 6pm to midnight on the chilly night of December 3, 2010, to audiences outside on the street below as part of Nuit Blanche Brock 2010. 

    Performed by Dramatic Arts students Jessica Goncalves and Shannon Perugino; Sound Op: Matthew Viviano; Tech and Design Support: Doug Ledingham and David Vivian; Conceived by Natalie Alvarez. Choreography by Jessica Goncalves, Shannon Perugino and Natalie Alvarez.

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    Categories: Events