The production will be the culmination of more than 2 years of research and experimentation starting in early 2014 when Leigh Anne Parry enlisted two local dance artists, Natasha Torres-Garner and Jonathan Bevan, to help realize a vision. Together, they focused on revealing the possibilities of the site through movement and dance. During the second phase,Ken Gregory, Leigh Anne Parry, Susan Chafe, and Anders Swanson used custom electronics, sculpture, audio recording manipulation and explorations of the Seine’s natural soundscape and history while developing a series of sound installations. Over that same time period, Parry invited artists to the river for observation, experimentation and dialogue. Eventually 18 performance artists contributed elements to the narrative and were brought together with a real audience for a very successful work-in-progress showing at the end of the canoeing season in late 2015. The proof of concept event allowed us to work through the more daunting logistics of getting an audience in canoes one by one through a show. Despite little publicity, the enthusiastic turnout (more than 130 attendees) inspired us to take these next steps.
The Seine is home for many species, but sanctuary for only a few passionate humans. An underlying inspiration inevitably present for all who participate is, of course, a desire to see more people take time to go canoeing, walking, sitting – to be out in natural environments, to let their imaginations roam whilst there. The Seine River is cherished by its immediate neighbours but its beauty and significance are not common knowledge to the rest of city’s population.
With an innovative art experience, we can bring a wide audience to the Seine River and provoke a thoughtful conversation. With the generous support of Winnipeg Arts Council, Manitoba Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, Winnipeg Canoe Rentals, Save Our Seine, the City of Winnipeg Parks Department, Young Lungs Dance Exchange, One Trunk Theatre, Theatre Incarnate, Paddle Manitoba over the last two years we have been able to make this special event possible. A successful event plays arole in the ongoing effort to save and celebrate wild spaces constantly at risk from encroachment and development. Although it may seem rooted in an ethical concern, it is ultimately equally an artistic one: if there were more people who understood the magic inherent in these vulnerable places, the possible outcomes within us are endless.
This is a piece about deep time. It is an investigation into those moments when our self-imposed context shimmers and time slowly begins to unravel ahead of us – affecting how we both perceive and imagine our world. Deep time is also geologic time. It refers to the ability of the earth – and the humans that inhabit it – to ‘communicate through millennia’ (Benford). We want to draw out dialogue from the spaces between the branches, the cracks in the sidewalk, the ripples around an intake pipe. We would like to amplify the imaginative and dramatic receptivity that abounds in the heads of canoeists as they glide along a secretive stream winding inconspicuously through the heart of contemporary Winnipeg. We want to evoke and play with the mystery of the ‘wild’: a classic concept rooted in fear, othering, misunderstanding, and the juxtaposition of safety in ‘the home’. Sliding through the homes of creatures, human and non-human, explorers in a riparian tunnel of trees and shrubs and grasses are engrossed in the narrative as much as the river itself is engrossed in the middle of a city full of traffic and noise and dialogue.