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Posted by on Nov 11, 2011 in art, miscellaneous, scholarly, travel

Always Be Daring (ABD)

Always Be Daring (ABD)

Peace poppy courtesy of The Real Art of Protest (TRAP)

It’s a perfectly November day. The sun keeps trying to peek out from behind the steel-grey clouds, only to be pushed away again. But the light leaks out anyhow, glinting past the edges of its clouds and delineating where sky stops.

Yesterday, I did my doctoral proposal defense at Concordia. It was intense and (dare I say it) kind of fun. A slightly strange, quite formal, and beautifully facilitated ritual of assessment centred on what I’ve done and where I’m headed with my doctoral project. The big benchmark before embarking on the dissertation. The halfway point. The moment in the sun before the deliciously seductive abyss of so much research, and so much writing, begins. So now, I can officially say ABD. All But Dissertation. Or as I prefer to call it, Always Be Daring.

Screen grab from 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein

Late last month, I happily attended the Creative Nova Scotia gala at the Cunard Centre on the Halifax waterfront. There, several accomplished artists won prizes and demonstrated their talents. The Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Masterworks Art Award went to the brilliantly creative David Clark, for his 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein (to be played with the left hand). According to jurors, the choice was incredibly difficult, because the nominees were so strong. No kidding.

James MacSwain offered a delightful performance of an acceptance speech acknowledging his status as the latest Portia White Prize winner. He regaled us with stories of what influenced him, and sang the names of all the previous winners. He also named the mentorship program at Visual Arts Nova Scotia as the protegé recipient. There were several other prize winners named that night, among them author Sue Goyette; pianist Simon Docking; dancer-choreographer Sheilagh Hunt; printmaker and educator Daniel O’Neill; musician and composer Dinuk Wijeratne – and several more talented artists who were nominated though didn’t receive prizes this night.

Courtesy Terry Bailey

There is definitely something going on in the arts in Nova Scotia. Without a doubt, that has something to do with the groundswell of support for the almost-125-year-old NSCAD, currently in an incredibly difficult financial position. Check out the Nova Scotia Needs NSCAD initiatives, including the alumni-driven fb Friends of NSCAD and the student-organized website. Lots of people have been incredibly touched by this mighty small university, including me, and I’m awfully happy to be involved through the Alumni Association Board of Directors.

It has been a bit of a whirlwind of the arts these past few weeks. Lots of people went to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia for the annual Sobey Art Award (loved those blue fortune cookies with artists’ names inside them). Lots more people also came out on a semi-balmy October night all over the city for Nocturne.

Nocturne 2011

Yippee! I sure loved the projections on buildings, the exhibitions open late, and the zillions of kids out and about with their families.

Speaking of talented, brave and amazing… there was a great show at the Tarragon Theatre in Toronto in October: the Sankofa Trilogy. If you didn’t catch it, you must seek out d’bi young, and go to anything she offers. An incredible performer and storyteller.

Cultural Study This! Cabaret poster. Courtesy Dayna McLeod

As for daring, what could be more daring than a cabaret? Recently, I presented at the Canadian Association of Cultural Studies conference in Montreal, giving a talk about Kat Cizek’s interactive work at the NFB, including Filmmaker-in-Residence and Out My Window/Highrise (more on this in a later post). In particular, I reflected on what it was like to stage manage and observe Kat’s live presentation of Out My Window at the  D| N|A symposium in May. Her presentation was part of a cabaret for the May scholarly gathering and though she wasn’t involved in the CACS gathering, there was another cabaret. Ooo-eeee. In both cases, the outrageous and dynamic Dayna McLeod hosted a relentlessly idiosyncratic series of fabulous performers at Sala Rossa on St Laurent. And yes, I stage managed again, with the help of some more incredible volunteers. Next time, you should come.

BJM Danse detail

BJM Danse (detail). Courtesy BJM Danse and Live Art Productions.

And lest you think I am not concerned with dance, theatre or books (a few of my favourite arts), not only am I reading the Giller prize-wining book (among other books), but I also avidly followed the PBS online series on the state of publishing and e-books during the last week of October. Worth checking out. And I managed to keep myself in Halifax long enough to go to Live Art’s presentation of BJM Danse, including an older favourite and a newer (as in ‘world premiere’) favourite.  And don’t imagine that I’ll be staying home any time soon after that. When I’m not at the Trudeau Conference on The Making of Citizens, I’ll be at the Coleman Lemieux show coming up at Live Art. And getting ready to check out the 2b Theatre presentation of The Russian Play and Mexico City, opening on November 29.

Oh my, oh sigh. Who says November is so grey?

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