SFU alumna Vanessa Goodman presents world premiere at SFU Woodward’s

Wells Hill is a multimedia-based project that explores the works of Marshall McLuhan and Glenn Gould

Whether you're interested in the theory of communication, or dance, or both, this piece is for you. (Photo courtesy of SFU Woodward's)

By: Tessa Perkins

In this exciting new dance work that took three years to make, SFU Woodward’s Cultural Program has partnered with Dance House and SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts to present the world premiere of Action at a Distance’s Wells Hill as a special Celebrate Canada 150+ event.

     Action at a Distance is the dance company created by SFU alumna Vanessa Goodman who is also the artistic director. Goodman was the recipient of the 2013 Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award, and her works have been presented at dance festivals locally and across the country. Goodman’s goal with Action at a Distance is to foster dance works that reflect the human condition and to use dance to explore our contemporary experience. She strives to create immersive environments, and I think Wells Hill has achieved just that.

     Inspired by the work and writings of Marshall McLuhan and Glenn Gould, two Canadian icons, Goodman has created a work that combines themes of technology and communication. McLuhan and Gould’s philosophies and their work changed the way we think about and consume art and information. Their ideas provide the basis for this intelligent, provocative new multimedia work. In a preview video, the McLuhan quote “All media work us over completely” flashes on the screen before his voice becomes part of the sonic landscape of the work.

     The immersive experience is enhanced by exceptional lighting design by James Proudfoot, video projections by Ben Didier, Milton Lim, and Vanessa Goodman, costumes by Diane Park, and sound composition by Scott Morgan (Loscil) and Gabriel Saloman. Seven dancers bring the work to life: Bevin Poole, Lara Barclay, Karissa Barry, Dario Dinuzzi, Bynh Ho, Arash Khakpour, and Alexa Mardon.

     Related events are also being presented in the lead-up to the show: a discourse on Glenn Gould hosted by composer and SFU faculty member Owen Underhill on November 18, a discourse on Marshal McLuhan hosted by UBC professor Richard Cavell on November 25, and a lecture titled Marshall McLuhan and the Global Village: What effect is globalization having on the arts in Vancouver? on November 21 also hosted by Cavell. Each performance will include a pre- or post-show talk featuring Goodman in conversation with Cavell. For anyone interested in communications, music, or the way that we interpret and consume media, this dance piece is sure to be full of thought-provoking content.

Wells Hill will be presented by Dance House, SFU Woodward’s, and SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts at the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre located in the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts from November 24–26. For more information, visit sfu.ca/sfuwoodwards/events.