Fine arts dance show asks a big question

By Jordyn Marcellus

It’s a question that every artist eventually has to ask themselves: Why do art? The Michèle Moss-choreographed Why Dance? Two aims to answer this very question, taking diverse styles, from West African dance to house music, into its choreographic influences.

“Some of my research is in West Africa and Cuba,” says Moss. “That’s very important to me and close to the bone. It’s the way that I move and the way that I like to move with the music also supporting that– so it’s heavy on the percussion.”

This is the second Why Dance? for Moss, who works at the University of Calgary as an instructor in the B.A. dance program. She has also co-founded the Decidedly Jazz Danceworks studio, and has worked at Studio West. She started asking this question as part of her graduate project, and found her desire to explore the question wasn’t easily satisfied by grand speeches but instead through an exploration of the subject with the dancer’s body.

“This idea resonated with me that we ask questions to investigate something, rather than looking and giving more privilege to the answers,” she says. “It just makes sense to me.”

Through research, including the investigation of the aforementioned West African and Cuban styles, she brings this huge amount of experience to bear in her choreography.

Audiences will be able to see her ask, and hopefully answer, that titular question about why people dance– whether they be the greatest prima ballerina assolutas or a 12-year-old taking her first steps into the contemporary dance world.

“[Why Dance? is] an opportunity to take that research and answer it, rather than in a didactic fashion– a big long lecture, treatise or a thesis– and answer it with the kinesthetic; answer it with the body,” says Moss. “There are many people, professionals and pre-professionals, who devote themselves to the act, the art and the activity [of dance].”

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