Karen Jamieson is flying solo

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A full length dance work, solo|soul attempts to bridge our inner and outer worlds.

By: Tessa Perkins

First published in The Peak.

“Solo work hasn’t been a big interest of mine,” said choreographer Karen Jamieson, “but I knew this work needed to be solo.” Her new work, solo|soul, explores transformations from muscle to energy, aging, and how our inner world communicates with our outer being. She’s thinking of the body as a temporary garment. 

The work was created over three years in dialogue with other dance artists of different aesthetics, traditions, and ages. These danced conversations formed the basis of her research and this show is the culmination of that work. The artists she worked with include Serge Bennathan, Peter Bingham, Josh Martin, Jennifer Mascall, and Darcy McMurray.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Jamieson’s company, and she is happy to be spending it performing her new work as part of Dancing on the Edge. “I go way back with Dancing on the Edge,” she said. “Donna [Spencer]’s just been amazing for what she’s done for the city with this festival.” 

Jamieson has performed at almost every festival since its inception, but she said that she doesn’t have any favourite works that come to mind. It’s always her current work that she’s partial to because, as she says, “You’re in the moment with that piece.” She is also looking forward to catching as many of the other shows as she can. “I have a lot of admiration and respect for younger artists and colleagues,” she said.

The concept of this show came about through Jamieson’s 15 years of practicing vijnana yoga. “I had two teachers who had a tremendous influence on me and I wondered how to connect it to my dance practice,” she said. “There were some restrictions I was feeling with age that I could feel opening up with this yoga. 

“The premise of the show is to see if it’s possible to bridge this meditative practice of the inner body to the outward practice of dance performance.” 

The tension between the outside and inside worlds adds another level of complexity to the performance.“It’s such a challenge to stay in this focused internal place while on stage,” she explained, because the audience adds another dynamic to the outer, performative realm. Jamieson does think it’s possible for the world within to communicate with the outside world and seamlessly connect — that’s the goal of her work.  

Jamieson’s work has always been about exploring new ideas and experimenting with innovative works. “It’s about taking risks; setting out over the abyss and building a bridge to see if it holds,” she said.  

solo|soul will be presented as part of Dancing on the Edge July 10 to 12 at the Scotiabank Dance Centre. For more information, visit kjdance.ca

Photo by Chris Randle.

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