After March gig, Tracey Norman to gear down for brief maternity leave
When Tracey Norman was choreographing What Goes Between for DanceWorks she was literally sick to her stomach.
The Forest Hill dancer was experiencing the thrills of her first trimester last summer when her and her four dancers — Jesse Dell, Beth Despres, Brittany Duggan and Sky Fairchild-Waller — were in the second phase of choreography for the performance, which will take the stage March 12-14 at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre.
“That was the worst part of pregnancy for me,” Norman said in a recent interview. “The first part, I really was not feeling well and I didn’t want to be dancing.
“I did a lot less bringing movement to them, and I relied on my collaborators more.”
That turned out to be a blessing, as she was able to see the shifts between people when they were interacting in rehearsals.
“The piece, I feel like it fit better that they be a lot more involved in making movement, and when I felt better, and I could move more, I was like, ‘Oh, this piece is really about these four dancers and their movement’,” she said.
Her partner in crime, Marie France Forcier, who is also showing her piece Scars are all the Rage as part of a contemporary dance double bill, is also pregnant. She is due in April.
The two can breathe a little easier as their works hit the stage — Norman more so, as she gave birth to Pearl Norman-Chambers on Valentine’s Day. Norman is married to TSN producer and photographer Craig Chambers.
Motherhood aside, Norman admitted there were no thematic ties between the two performance, but they do play on what makes people tick.
“They’re both contemporary dance works, but I think it kind of shows what the range for what’s possible for contemporary dance is, because her work is more theatrical and my work is more movement based,” she said. “[Forcier’s] work is quite dark and will be design-wise with lighting and set, while mine will be open and light.”
Other challenges faced by Norman during choreography — outside of the morning sickness, naturally — were trying to convey how people’s emotions affect those around them, a.k.a. emotional contagion.
The two have even blogged about it on WordPress.
“I think mostly, as a choreographer, I like to communicate with the audience, but I’m not precious about what is communicated,” she said. “I certainly have my ideas, but if you watch it and interpret something different, as long as you are moved by it or have questions that’s enough for me.
“This idea, because it’s fairly simple and obvious, the difficulty becomes when we come into the theatre will it be palpable.”
After the show’s three-night engagement, Norman is going to enjoy her new-found motherhood with a brief maternity leave from dancing. That is, until she returns to teaching dance at York University this fall.
“At this point, I’ve been leaving myself open, which is really scary,” she admitted. “As a dancer, you always want to know what your next gig is, and I think I’m just trying to be okay with, ‘Yeah, I purposely left these next few months open’.”