It’s about time: Michael Trent explores our perceptions of time

Have you ever noticed how time can be both incredibly fleeting and excruciatingly slow, depending on what you’re doing?  Apparently so did choreographer Michael Trent.  With It’s about time: 60 Dances in 60 Minutes, part of this year’s Dancing on the Edge Festival of Contemporary Dance, Trent and his company Dancemakers explore our perceptions of time.

It's about time: 60 Dances in 60 MinutesCurious about how things are often considered in absolute terms and often purely in black and white, Trent set out to explore the grey areas where he said most of us find our answers to the discomfort around the speed of our world.

“I wanted to use time as way to look at things in that grey area,” said Trent.  “So many people view time relatively even though it is absolute.”

But before you get the idea that it all sounds very cerebral, Trent says it isn’t as heady as it sounds in theory.

60 Dances in 60 Minutes is meant to be very accessible,” said Trent.  “It is actually very light and intended to be a great deal of fun.”

Using such everyday tasks as jumping up and down or holding their breath, members of Dancemakers first perform their various tasks in one minute intervals.  They then repeat the same tasks in 15 seconds and then again in three minutes.

“The audience will have an opportunity to live through a moment where they question and see how time shifts,” explained Trent.  “They will get to see very clearly through these tasks how time plays out and then is compressed and expanded.  There is a real empathy that builds with the audience, especially as the tasks are repeated in the full three minutes.”

The supporting soundscape for 60 Dances in 60 Minutes continues the theme, also playing with the perception of time.

“Our composer [Josh Thorpe] asked sixty people to make field recordings, recordings of their environment,” explained Trent.  “He asked them to start recording and imagine what a minute felt like and to stop when they felt a minute was up.”

Putting the recordings back-to-back, Trent says it was quite interesting to see how the sense of time shifted for many of those making the recordings, with some of the recordings captured quite short and others much longer than a minute.

No stranger to Vancouver, Trent began his career as a dancer with the Judith Marcuse Dance Company at the beginning of the eighties, moving onto Toronto Dance Theatre and other projects before finally becoming Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer of Dancemakers in 2006.

Originally a dancer by association, Trent says he first became involved in dance because his best friend Natalie started ballet classes.

“I pretty much did everything that Natalie did,” laughed Trent.  “When she took ballet classes her mom said she thought I would be a good dancer so I joined.   When Natalie decided to audition for the National Ballet School I did too and was accepted.”

What’s next for Trent and Dancemakers?  Once they’ve visited Vancouver, I suppose only time will tell.

Dancing on the Edge Festival of Contemporary Dance
Various Locations
7 – 16 July 2011

Visit http://www.dancingontheedge.org for information, exact showtimes and to buy tickets.

It’s about time: 60 Dances in 60 Minutes
Firehall Arts Centre
15 & 16 July 2011 at 7pm

Visit http://www.dancingontheedge.org/itsabouttime.php for more information and tickets.

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