Holly Small : intent and content : with Oriah Wiersman & Jessica Runge

December 4, 2016


Holly Small (choreographer)


Jessica Runge,  Oriah Wiersman (interpreters) (Toronto)










Two solos in draft form

Jigsaw : early development of a dance interpretation of a poem

a drowning : recreation of a solo on a new interpreter

Both solos were strong presentations of female personas

Predominant movement development was of flow, shaping of dancer/shaping of space, recurring rhythmic structures and choreographic patterns.




  • To advance the development of the 2 solos

  • To work in a collective creative situation

  • To create in a short intense period outside familiar frameworks

  • To stimulate risk-taking in well-established creative process



  • Shake up habits in terms of choreographic phrasing, rhythm, shaping

  • Be more ruthless with editing and not be sentimental



  • Learning to navigate through and distil a lot of input from different resource people, as artist, interpreter, human being.

  • Allowing one’s self to first say “yes” to a different perspective, to test it and find out where it goes. (This may be one’s own new perspective or one introduced by another.)

  • Discovering what in another person’s way of perceiving the work is relevant to one’s own approach.

  • Being able to surrender development of aspects of the work to other facilitators (e.g. at times in the process interpreter works with movement coach, not with choreographer).



  • How to develop the fullness of the pure movement and also advance the thematic intent and content of the piece?

  • How to recognize a creative habit that is inhibiting the growth of the piece: how to recognize a personal signature that is possibly desirable?


To practice:

  • Completely indulge in the beauty of the pure dance 1000%

  • Ruthless editing: Make up material, then ruthlessly cut out sections, see what you have.


Next Steps:

  • Clearly identify what the phrasing is in the existing material.

  • Experiment with radically different ways of phrasing the material.

  • Goal: to uncover more complex internal possibilities within the single over-riding dynamic intention of each of the solos.




HOLLY SMALL (2016), senior creator and dance artist, has a longstanding passion for interdisciplinary collaboration. Many of her works combine dance, live music, video and interactive new media. Her work has been recognized through many honours, awards and commissions in Canada and internationally over her 40-year career. Professor Emeritus, Department of Dance, York University School of Fine Arts, she is now pursuing her independent career with several new creations in the works.


JESSICA RUNGE : senior dance artist : see listing in "Mentors": 


ORIAH WIERSMAN: trained at Premiere Dance Cobourg and York University  Dance Program  Studying under John Ottman, Julia Sasso, Susan Lee, Claire Wootten, Helen Jones, and Holly Small,, Donna Krasnow, to name a few and member of the York Dance Ensemble. She is interested in what is behind the dance - what's happening in the dancer's inner landscape. She is finding her feet in the Toronto and Cobourg arts worlds, recently appearing with Parahumans, and producing work in Cobourg.


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Maxine Heppner and Across Oceans is based in Toronto Canada, sacred land that has been home to human cultural activity for over 15,000 years. We honour and acknowledge the original caretakers of this land: the Mississaugas of New Credit, the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the Anishinaabe and the Huron/Wendat, and all peoples and living beings who are named and unnamed in history.

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