"Let Me Tell You That I Love You," Nuit Rose Festival, Artscape, Toronto, Canada, 2014. // Henry Chan

Edmonton performance art festival brings international talent to a new audience

Zero Gravity International Performance Art Festival
Workshop runs May 10 – 17; festival runs May 16 – 19 at Mile Zero’s Spazio Performativo, dc3 Art Projects, and Latitude 53; tickets by cash donation at venue.

By Tamanna Khurana

The Zero Gravity International Performance Art SUMMIT brings a brand new experience to local artists and audiences alike. The inaugural festival and workshop exist as a learning ground for Edmonton creatives to develop their art beyond practice as well as a way for people unfamiliar with the art form to discover it.

The summit is curated by Beau Coleman in collaboration with Mile Zero Dance in Edmonton and four other international artists will run workshops from May 10 – 17 and participate in the festival from May 16 – 19.

Coleman studied at the National Theatre School of Canada, graduated from the Yale School of Drama, and then moved to Edmonton to teach at the Department of Drama at the University of Alberta. The idea for Zero Gravity grew from a conversation with German artists Dagmar I. Glausnitzer-Smith after a workshop in Berlin.

“I’ve been wanting to bring many of the artists I met over the years to Edmonton to help expand the art form in the city and the timing seemed right to organize the Zero Gravity International Performance Art SUMMIT,” Coleman, who has spent much of the last 20 years working in Europe, says.

Coleman has been interested in working with Mile Zero Dance since moving to Edmonton and when she began shifting towards performance art. The theme “Zero Gravity” comes from the heaviness of the current political environment around the world and the idea that the artists have the freedom to respond to this any way they want.

“The concept behind it was to really try to dig into the relevance of performance art,” Mile Zero Dance artistic director Gerry Morita explains. “It’s not just people doing weird things … it’s people with real political intent using these unconventional ways to bring ideas to light in a way that we normally don’t see in Edmonton.”

Local artists not only have the rare opportunity to learn their craft through international channels, but the festival portion is focused on bringing people who have never experienced this art to the venue. The international artists will be running workshops and working one-on-one with participants but are also excited to perform with new artists and for new audiences. Glausnitzer-Smith has performed at international festivals around the world but this will be her first time in Edmonton.

“I feel open to experience the city of Edmonton,” Glausnitzer-Smith says. “Being part of this important cultural event with its ambitions, participatory concerns and collaborations with regional artists, it slows down any pre-perceptions. There is an eagerness to encounter artist colleagues on a ‘re-run’ as well as new meetings and engagements.”

The other artists are from Italy and Greece, Cyprus, and the United Kingdom. Mile Zero Dance and Coleman are excited to see how the summit will express the Zero Gravity theme. According to Morita, performance art is heavily based on research. This festival and workshop could deliver a lot of insight into the similarities or differences in ideologies from around the world. It is also a unique way to take in these ideas.

“It can be a very unpredictable experience to witness performance art,” Morita says. “You have to show up with an open mind and just really try to witness and absorb what the artist is putting out and then put it in relation to your own experience and your own life.”

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