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Alex Winters: historic into present aesthetic: with Sophie Dow & Oriah Wiersma

Creative Journey CM2019

Alexandra Winters - ChoreoGraphic Marathon 2019

Alexandra Winters, Choreographer

Sophie Dow, Oriah Wiersma, Interpreters


  • Re–examine dance material co–created 7 years ago.

  • Identify aspects that are currently interesting

  • Create duet and solo material

Beginning with:

  • Material generated when they were modern dance students

  • Inspirations:

1. psychological noise,

2. silence and suspension,

3. experience recovering from serious concussion


  • Visiting past work will be a catalyst to identify how our aesthetics have changed, what we are now.


  • Disconnections between mind and body


  • Translate conceptual ideas into compelling dance.

  • Identify internal movement relationships, inter–performer relationships, and performer-place relationships re: the movement/dance, re: the dynamic of the trio collaboration.

  • See the work as a whole.

Strategies used during CM to generate and develop material:

  • Perform part of past material, continue improvising. Choose sections and/or movements that are striking, string them together to see what is there.

  • Use aleatoric instructions to generate movement that projects a state of mind/body disconnect .

  • Discuss concept, agree on improvisation score, dance, pull out most salient features and continue working with them.

  • Two dancers perform the new material simultaneously, then one after the other -to clarify and test inter-connectedness of the material itself


  • The time/force of the movement can be different from the time/force of the place.

First improvisations yielded material that came close to the themes, however as the process continued the dancers’ training often promoted integrated movement that smoothed out the dance rather than recovering the sought-after intention. To maintain a portrayal of the theme (in this case “disconnected states of being”) very detailed instructions were necessary to set and follow.

Skill building:

  • Analyzing while the dancers are improvising, what specific actions transmit the desired ideas for that section.

  • Experimenting with details that may become conventions within the dance as a whole. (e.g. always turn your head away from an extended arm)

  • Recovering exact movement sequences.

  • Recognizing the movement’s creation of energy patterns that are fundamental to the shape of the dance.

  • Recognizing focal points within sections and developing the section with that knowledge.

Discussion points:

  • Some themes are more difficult to dance than others. For instance, “mind-body disconnect” as a concept seems to be the antithesis of Dance, actually causing a disconnect in the dance-making. The challenge is how to understand and research how the “mind-body disconnect” (or other theme) actually manifests in the physical world in ways that can be described, seen, replicated, and therefore danced.

  • One must remain vigilant balancing the amount of discussion with discovery and decision-making within the physicality of the art form.

Questions from mentors:

In consideration of your original goal of discovering your current aesthetics: What is past Sophie/Alex? What is current Sophie/Alex? What is the creative role of Oriah in the reimaging of material?

To Practice:

  • When you find yourself in moments of discussion, speak and dance the idea simultaneously so that the idea stays connected to physicality for you and your interpreters.

  • Regularly check in on where and how the dance is moving in the room so that the dance (as a whole) exists in a 3-dimensional responsive environment.

  • Be Brutal. Choose what really strikes you. Drop the rest. Continue to do this during the process.

What next:

“I am continuing to develop scores and movement tasks as a mode of creation and a method of performance. Some of the tasks that we had developed in the CM influenced existing scores in the work for six dancers that I premiered in September. These processes will continue in the upcoming commission to create a duet with two Winnipeg dancers in January 2020. And the list of things to practice will be carried on throughout many creation processes, no doubt!”

KEY Words: Direct. Direction. Embody.

Alexandra Winters (2019)

Born and raised in Winnipeg, is a mixed-­‐race independent dance artist, teacher and creator. She has worked professionally with @tendance/C.Medina (Austria), Stephanie Ballard and Dancers, Company Constance Cooke, Gearshifting Performance Works, ENTITEY/Jason Martin, Janelle Hacault and Kayla Jeanson through the Young Lungs Dance Exchange Research Series, and Winnipeg's Contemporary Dancers under the artistic direction of Brent Lott. Alex choreographs works for professionals and pre-­‐professional and recreational students, Most recently, she was awarded a Research and Creation grant from the Canada Council for the Arts, to create a sextet in February-March 2019. She was a guest artist with GPS Dance Collective on their tour to Leon, Mexico, performed choreography by Christina Medina with dancer Emma Beech in Choreoloop 2.0 in Augsburg, Germany, and participated as a dancer at Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity in the Creative Gesture -Collective Composition Lab for Music and Dance. Alex is a 2015 graduate of the School of Contemporary Dancers Professional Program.

Sophie Dow (2019)

Winnipeg born, is a dance and music artist, inspired by interdisciplinary collaboration and her Métis roots, while sharing passions for busking, yoga and adventure. She holds a degree in Dance Performance and Choreography from York University, receiving multiple scholarships for excellence in fine arts including the Indspire Building Brighter Futures Scholarship, Winnipeg Rotary Memorial Scholarship and The Golden Key Society Membership. While previously appearing in the work of various dance and theatre companies including the York Dance Ensemble, Sophie recently toured across Canada as both an independent artist and with SQx Dance Company. Highlights of the tour featured performing in the opening ceremonies of Shambhala Music Festival in Salmo River, filming with Vero Films in Vancouver and writing her first EP under musical alias: The Honeybee. Amidst these artistic endeavours, Sophie also offers meditative healing as a licensed Holistic Practitioner in Thai Massage.

Oriah Wiersma (2019)


Alexandra Winters - Choreographic Marathon 2019

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