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Peter Kelly: taboo made public: with Margarita Soria

Peter Kelly, creator, performer

Margarita Soria, interpreter

Peter Kelly - Margarita Soria - Choreographic Marathon 2019


  • To explore and develop work based on themes of sexuality.

  • To look at how choreographic structures and performative states can challenge performer-audience relationships.

  • To work on creating a series of fluctuating state-based structures as frames for a danced performance work.

  • To make material that can be performed consistently.

  • To establish performance structures that allow for creative interpretation while giving the audience the intended experience

Beginning with:

  • Existing images and motifs

  • Material from previous performances on similar themes

  • Props

  • Personal experience


  • To make work about power dynamics and sexual identities.

  • To work with nudity and graphic images.

  • To make public themes that are often taboo


  • Allow rawness (performers being raw, dance being raw)

  • Push lines of discomfort in creation process

  • To push lines of discomfort between performer/audience, without losing audience attention.

  • To transform personal experience and attachments into performative and performable material.


  • Use props as first impetus in setting up performative structures (e.g. plastic tarpaulin, light bulb, handcuffs)

  • Use props as costumes (e.g. leather hood, chastity)

  • Use very specific sex positions as beginning motifs for developing sections.

  • Count to 100 for every activity within a single iteration of the piece.

  • Perform sections past the limit of exhaustion.

  • Experimented with different placements of the audience.

  • Worked material as a solo and as a duet.

  • Performed material with and without clothes, costumes, and props.


  • Props are used to support the dance work, they are not the primary aspects of the dance

  • There is a difference between props and gear worn as costume It takes a long time to “understand” what to do with objects so that they are meaningful partners in the performance.

  • The beauty of some action-images because of secondary elements: e.g. tapping of unseen metal props creating a gentle score; billowing of plastic harkening to wings or waves.

  • When he performs the dance he is able to interchange his attention between his sensations of what he’s doing and the action itself. When he goes from sensation to movement he discovered how extremely magnified the moment it. This gives him power to influence audience perceptions.

  • The brain can’t un–see things.

  • The experience of an improvisation can be inspirational without offering actual performable material.

Skill-building achieved:

  • To go from intense activity in experimentation, and use that information as a choreographer.

  • To setting tasks that challenged his stamina and/or tap into his feelings.

  • To differentiate between performable material to work with, and experiences that inspire the work.

Questions from mentors:

In your experiments you work with durational experience. How are you tracking the performative elements towards making the performed work?

When performing the work will you be doing the real experience (as in your experiments) or performing on another plane/frame?

What is the frame? Is it an exhibition/display? A theatrical performance? A voyeuristic experience?

Is the piece a moment of reality (real time, real sexual act) or an abstraction of elements (rhythms, motions, sounds, breath, etc.)?

Discussion points:

  • The power exchange between dominant and submissive roles.

  • Difference between acceleration and crescendo.

  • Difference between durational, continuous, constant, repetitive.

  • Is there a difference between “duet” and “assisted solo”? How to make, what could be, an “assisted solo”?

  • Provocative performance is not necessarily shocking.

  • Managing “consent” between artists and with audience.

To practice:

  • Experiment with all your props – each for only 5-10 minutes. Keep rotating between the different props without settling on any single fixed ideas.

  • Do a 10–15 minute improvisation with set material, shifting your attention between the pure physicality of the action, the sensation of the action and feelings/emotions generated by the action.

  • Go from one thing to the next over and over.

  • Improvise 10–15 minutes of set material moving between the material being active and the material being static.

Next goals

  • To go more deeply into rawness

  • Work with role of 2nd person for “assisted solo”

  • Discover how to both keep audience engaged and to provoke them to discomfort

  • Maybe experiment with non-dancers and non-performers

What you are doing next:

  • Performance of next iteration at “Wind-down Dance” November 2019

  • As producer of the dance festival series “New Blue”, to offer a platform on the theme of “taboo”

Key words: play, exhibitionism, voyeur, consent, dominant-submissive, capacity, exhaustion

Peter Kelly (2019)

Born in Guelph ON, is a Toronto based dancer, choreographer, artistic director, teacher, stage manager and producer. Peter is a graduate of the Dance Performance Studies program at George Brown College and is now in his fourth season as a company dancer with Toronto Dance Theatre (TDT). Beyond TDT, he dancers as interpreter for many Toronto-based choreographers. Peter has worked with Summerworks Performance Festival as the Patron Services Coordinator, with Dance Ontario as the Provincial Networks Coordinator, and is currently the Artistic Director of New Blue Emerging Dance. Under the banner of Suede & Company, Peter explores/creates interdisciplinary works that aim to tackle barriers associated with sexual identity and queer culture. >

Margarita Soria (2019)

Was born in Ottawa where she first connected with dance in the Canterbury High School arts program. She trained at the National Circus School in Montreal before moving to Toronto in 2014 to attend the School of Toronto Dance Theatre, where she was awarded the Walker Wood Foundation Bursary in her final year. She recently participated in the Banff Centre For Arts and Creativity’s Creative Gesture Dance Residency where she helped create and performed The Hamlet Complex by Alan Lucien Øyen. She is also excited to be entering the choreographic research of Christianne Ullmark and is happy to be dancing in her third season with Toronto Dance Theatre.

Peter Kelly - Choreographic Marathon 2019

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