There’s a little Jane in everyone

Having just premiered The Interplay Project on June 7 and 8, Vanessa Goodman is also busy preparing for the premiere of We All Know Jane, a work that has her collaborating with Ziyian Kwan and Anne Cooper from June 21 to 22 at The Dance Centre.

The idea for We All Know Jane came out of Kwan’s residency at The Dance Centre. She approached Goodman and her Contingency Plan partner Jane Osborne, to ask if they’d like to be involved in the show. She also invited Anne Cooper, whom they had an existing relationship with.

The concept of the character of Jane came out of the aspect of femininity that seemed to run through all the artists’ works and the fact that the show is made up of all female choreographers and performers, explained Goodman. “It’s that aspect of femininity; not necessarily feminist, and the significance of ‘Jane.’ Everyone knows a Jane in their lives.”

Fellow Dance Centre artist-in-residence and friend Lina Fitzner was actually the one to come up with the name: “She said ‘well, we all know Jane’ one day as a joke, and it kind of stuck.” Goodman mentioned the various “Janes” that people think of: Dick and Jane, Jane Gooddall, Calamity Jane, Jane Doe, and Jane Fonda.

The concept of Jane is just a way for audiences to approach the show, and it presents a possible entry point that will be different for every individual. “It offers an opportunity to engage,” explained Goodman.

“They are three very different works,” Goodman said, describing the three sections of the show. Her own work is a collaboration with SFU grad Amelia Epp, who specialises in paper sculptures. Epp will be doing a large scale installation for Goodman’s The long indoors. “It will be a ten foot by two foot organic structure suspended in mid-air,” said Goodman, who describes her work as dealing with bodily systems, organs, and the body as a vessel for abstract storytelling. Choreographed by Goodman, Jane Osborne and Ziyian Kwan perform this work.

Kwan also performs her own choreography in The neck to fall, which is an ode to the late Amelia Itcush, who had done a lot of research with Kwan. Goodman says that this work deals with various personas and really came out of the research that Kwan and Itcush were involved in. This work has been in progress the longest, as Kwan worked on it during her residency, premiering it at Studio 303 in Montreal this past May.

“Anne’s piece is a fictitious Jane,” continued Goodman. “She does very creative, insightful work and she has a rich history in the community, so it should be great.” The character is inspired by several characters and is an amalgamation of them all, including the two main characters of the Lanford Wilson play Burn This.

The choreographic process is different for Goodman each time she approaches a new work. She explains, “this was my first time working with Ziyian, so I wanted to get to know her as an artist and an interpreter first and then let her skill set inform the process.” For the duet with Kwan and Osborne, Goodman began with a series of manipulations, which turned into movements that they abstracted to represent organic structures.

“I think it’s better to go in with a structure, a beginning and ending, and know the state or environment of the work and then let it evolve from there.” Goodman also emphasized the importance of not getting stuck on a formula and staying fluid in the creative process. In terms of where this project will lead Goodman next, she said that any work she is involved in will end up informing her next work. “There’s always residue from previous works,” she explained.

This show has given all of these women an opportunity to work together, support each other’s work, and create something unique by combining their strengths. While the show is comprised of three distinct works, the artists have come up with an overarching theme that holds everything together.