THE WHOLE SHEBANG presented by Andrea Nann Dreamwalker Dance Company in association with Harbourfront Centre NextSteps and Volcano, Friday and Saturday (May 4 and 5), 8 pm, at the Enwave Theatre (231 Queens Quay West). $22-$35. 416-531-4000. Rating: NNNNN
More than a dozen artists are on the bill, but there's really no question about who the organizing "she" is in The Whole Shebang.
"I'm choreographer, performer, presenter, director and producer," Andrea Nann laughs about the annual multi-arts show. "Oh, and I'm also a production assistant I lug around some gear."
Not that she's complaining. A week before the two-day showcase of dance, film, music, visual arts and literature goes up, Nann is looking pretty relaxed in a west-end rehearsal studio.
"I think people in the dance community are used to wearing many different hats," she says calmly.
Even before she began the Shebang, Nann collaborated with artists from other fields.
"My first big collaborative piece was in 1998," says the Danny Grossman Dance Company veteran. "It featured musician Andrew Cash, we had a visual artist who made this incredible revolving set, plus the dance."
A few years later, she came up with the idea of presenting those other artists doing their thing along with the collaborative dance.
This year's program includes original works by filmmaker Peter Mettler, playwright Judith Thompson, poet Souvankham Thammavongsa and musicians Andy Maize, Josh Finlayson, Greg Keelor, Suzie Ungerleider and ex-punk-musician-turned-NDP-MP Charlie Angus.
Nann's also choreographed two works, a trio called Ink for herself, Kate Alton and Jessica Runge, and a solo piece called Shostakovich.
Ink is inspired by the work of potter and ink painter Wayne Ngan, who told Nann, a fourth-generation Canadian, that she ought to connect to her Chinese heritage. The two discovered that dancing and ink painting were similar.
"Chinese brushwork integrates breath, heart and body, the ground, earth and clouds," she says. "You gather all of these things, bring them inside and express them outwards."
Ngan created the set, full of floor-to-ceiling abstract figurative ink paintings, and video artist Samm Higgison has animated some of Ngan's ink paintings so they come to life during the performance.
All of this sounds very how to put it? expensive.
"Mmm," nods Nann. "It's important to me to pay the artists fairly. I can't offer exorbitant fees. Once they come on board, there really is a lot of sharing and generosity among them."
Nann stresses that the program isn't a variety show. There's no MC.
"If we're speaking in one piece, there's a reader after. If there's a live musician in one piece, we move into the songwriters' circle. When performers take the stage, they create an atmosphere and a visual landscape with what they're doing. When they leave, it's still hanging in the space. I'm very conscious of what I then bring into that."
Additional Audio Interview Clips
On the show's length:
On musicians and the importance of bringing back artists to help out new artists: