Dancers in confinement – The interview

02.03.2021

December and January were busy months with work in the studio and the digital capture of performances of some of company’s works. Even so, our dancers faced a greater isolation than usual. How to stay physically and mentally fit during a confinement? We wanted to get a better idea of how they’re managing in their daily lives, routines, and activities.

Jean Bui, Jessica Muszynski, Paco Ziel, Amara Barner and Sydney McManus answered our questions. 

Jean Bui

As a dancer, what is your daily routine to keep in shape during the pandemic?

I haven’t been able to train or dance at all. My baby’s keeping me busy. I have to say it’s another kind of workout! I do perform all my daily tasks and chores with a 25 lbs baby in my arms though!

Since the beginning of the Health Crisis, did you develop other interests /hobbies?

Not really. I’ve just been taking it really slow – rediscovering all aspects of life alongside my little one.

Parallel to RUBBERBAND, are you involved in any others artistic projects?

Sydney and I have a collective named “jean & syd” and we’re working towards presenting “1, 2, maybe 3” at La Chapelle in 2022. 

Any funny anecdotes you’d like to share to make us smile?

The other day, I was locked out of my house. I leaned close to the lock and started talking to it… because communication is key.

Jessica Muszinski

As a dancer, what is your daily routine to keep in shape during the pandemic?

!!!! People have been staying in shape ???? 😳😳😳😳

Since the beginning of the Health Crisis, did you develop other interests /hobbies?

I started a writing club with my roomies. It took a while for everyone to work up the courage to share their work, but it has been absolutely inspiring to get an insight into the minds of each person, and to see their creative brains at work. We come up with writing prompts for each week, then share what we have written, and give feedback to each other.

Parallel to RUBBERBAND, are you involved in any others artistic projects?

The Bulbe Collective is my current obsession and artistic endeavor. Bumping into a couple of Montreal dancers working at a studio in the Plateau, I said to them “If you ever need another body, mine is available.” To my surprise, they actually took me up on my offer, and we began rehearsing together. Two weeks later we decided to create The Bulbe Collective, born out of an anxious need to do something during an otherwise stagnant time for performing artists.

It’s wild, it is like a fulltime job, we are rehearsing, teaching class, taking class, choreographing, scheduling, budgeting, applying for choreographic opportunities and grants, and having a lot of fun. More than simply being a dance collective, Bulbe for me is a sort of accountability group to maintain healthy artistic habits, to forge altruistic leadership practices, and to engage in meaningful exploration of craft.

Any funny anecdotes you’d like to share to make us smile?

Me and my roommates were celebrating one of our birthdays, then while lighting the candles of the cake my roommate’s hair caught on fire! I screamed in horror, as everyone tried to put out the fire. The roommate whose hair caught on fire ended up patting out the flame with her bare hands. In shock, she left the room visibly upset to take in the absolute fear of her hair erupting in flames, one roommate went to comfort her. The rest of us stood, also in shock – faces flushed as Stevie Wonder’s Happy Birthday echoed throughout the room. After a minute of silence, Pierre, ever so boldly says “so… will we still be having the cake?”

Paco Ziel

As a dancer, what is your daily routine to keep in shape during the pandemic?

My routine is to stay healthy, meaning giving proper time to keep in shape my intellect, heart, intuition and of course my body. I read a lot in the company of Machi (my cat), I have a daily training session in my living room that is open to what I need to work on (strength, creativity, exploration, relaxation, etc.). The most difficult part is always the beginning of those sessions, but once I reconnect with my vital force then it gets interesting.

Since the beginning of the Health Crisis, did you develop other interests /hobbies?

Yes, after a period of putting everything on pause, I started revisiting old interests, and creating new ones. I generally learn different artistic skills, but what is new here, it’s that I am ready to find a lifestyle that allows me to study a parallel career without stopping dancing. And that is exciting for me, like a new chapter. Getting closer to people who share the same interests is helpful and inspiring.

Parallel to RUBBERBAND, are you involved in any others artistic projects?

Yes, currently I am working on the foundations of my own dance company called Vías, a lifelong project that I share with my fiancée Diana Leon. I have the honour of having a residency through Danse a la Carte, I will be working with Bernardo Alvarado a wonderful musician that I admire. We are going to create a piece that aims to be a visual (body) and sound experience (pre-Hispanic instruments modified with digital technologies). I can’t wait to be in a studio again!

Any funny anecdotes you’d like to share to make us smile?

I am wondering what my neighbours think of what I call a “training session”. Sometimes I throw myself on the floor, scream, then chant, laugh, and play several instruments in between, followed by a workout cardio period. I would love to be on the other side of the wall just to listen to the madness of being an artist trapped in a living room (that’s a good name for a song).

Amara Barner

As a dancer, what is your daily routine to keep in shape during the pandemic?

Luckily I have an at home studio! I live in a spacious loft with my partner. Everyday, I try to stretch, do physical therapy exercises for past injuries, improvise, and dance for fun. I take zoom classes online, and have also taught a few dance classes on zoom. I like to take walks up Mont-Royal as well. 

Since the beginning of the Health Crisis, did you develop other interests /hobbies?

During covid, my friend Teddy Tedholm started an online dance magazine called DANCEGEIST. I have written three articles for the magazine, “The Dangers of Umbrella Terms”, “Dancing to Heal”, and “Duality in the Creative Workplace” to be released this March.

The health crisis has also given me time to work more on my crafts and small business. I hand make macrame and dreamcatchers in various forms. My business is called Amarantha: Witchcrafts and my mission is to bring spiritual wellness into our everyday life through home decor and ethereal esoterica. (Follow me on instagram). I was selected to sell my crafts at the local market/festival ‘Puces Pop’ by POPmontreal in September 2020. 

Parallel to RUBBERBAND, are you involved in any others artistic projects?

I danced in a music video for the Canadian band OVERWERK, as well as a music video for La Force to be broadcast on the 2021 International Women’s Day in association with Summer Stage in NYC. I also danced in Elon Hoglund’s (Tentacle Tribe) piece for Festival Quartiers Danse 2020. I taught my chakra movement and meditation class for Mark Caserta’s Create & Connect Winter Series. I also continue to run my craft business 🙂 I performed two times for ‘isol-art’ a live stream night of performances by artists in their homes, for the audience watching from their homes. 

I recently applied to Concordia University for their Fibres and Materials major in the Fine Arts degree. I will finally be taking part in the movement research residency at Circuit Est for local choreographer Kyana Lyane this March.

Sydney McManus

As a dancer, what is your daily routine to keep in shape during the pandemic?

My daily routine consists mostly of solo kitchen dance parties, lots of yoga and skating during these winter months! 

Since the beginning of the Health Crisis, did you develop other interests /hobbies?

During this time I have been able to start a tattoo practice. It has always been something I have been intrigued by but have never had the time or resources to make it happen. It has been a beautiful way to connect with people (safely) during this time and I hope to develop the practice further. I have also been able to take on more drawing and visual art projects which has been very fun to explore! Like making illustrations for the company cards 🙂

Parallel to RUBBERBAND, are you involved in any others artistic projects?

Jean (Bui) and I are keepin’ on with our collective together! We are fortunate to be working with LA SERRE – arts vivants in their delegate production program, supporting us throughout the creation and production phases of our project 1, 2, maybe 3. During the past months we have been lucky to have participated in residencies at Studio 303, Théâtre Aux Écuries, and this month at CCOV.

Credits: 1. Jean Bui ©M-S Blanchet 2. Jessica Muszynski ©Isabel Cruz 3. Machi, Paco’s Cat ©Paco Ziel
4. Amara Barner ©Amara Barner 5. 1, 2, maybe 3 ©Chloé Baril-Chassé 

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