Laura Toma talks about her inspiration for Cristina, an original creation for Repères 3
7 décembre 2021
« Cristina is a piece combining many of my storytelling interests and personal narratives. »
Interview avec Laura Toma who was a guest teacher at L'EDQ in the fall of 2021 to transmit Cristina, her original creation, to our graduate students of 2022. The work will be presented at Repères 3, the mid-session show of the Professional Training Program in Contemporary Dance of the school.
In the fall of 2021, Laura Toma, a Canadian dance artist, was a guest teacher at L'EDQ to transmit Cristina, her original creation, to our graduate students of 2022 . The work will be presented at Repères 3, the mid-session show of the Professional Training Program in Contemporary Dance of the school, on December 10 and 11, 2021.
In this interview, Laura tells us about her inspiration for Cristina and for becoming the first certified Gaga teacher in Canada.
Is there a sentence that a teacher or a choreographer has told you that has had an impact on you? If so, how?
One sentence that has had a huge impact on the way I dance and approach dance making comes from Ohad Naharin, the creator of Gaga: « Don't take yourself so seriously. » I have found that as professionals (or aspiring professionals), we become obsessed with perfecting technique in a way that tends to lack lightness. Our approach to honing our craft is often intense, with rigour being valued above all else. This sentence recalls that we can so easily forget the playfulness from where our passion to dance first came. Another excerpt from Ohad along a similar vein and of particular relevance to a professional training program like that offered at L’EDQ is: « Don't be such a good student. » I will let you contemplate the reasons as to why this reminder is useful. :)
You are the first certified Gaga teacher in Canada. During your most recent visit, our graduate students had the chance to learn about and experience Gaga. What inspired you to become a certified teacher of this language?
I first learned about Gaga after I saw the Batsheva Dance Company perform at Sadler's Wells in London, around 2008. I didn't understand why the dancers moved the way they did. It was a quality I had never seen before and I was left sincerely dumbfounded by their profound sensitivity, hyper awareness, and ability to access a huge range of physical states with a level of clarity that seemed to me superhuman. When I learned about their daily movement practice, I knew I had to study it. Years later, in 2011 (and after attending a summer intensive in Tel Aviv where I experienced Gaga for the first time), I moved to Israel to take part in the first teacher training program. In all honesty, my motivation for embarking on this journey was a lot less about the certification I would receive at the end and more about the privilege to dedicate a full year of building a personal practice in it - a year to focus on research that I knew would transform my own dancing. And it did. I felt changed on a deep molecular level. Of course, being able to teach and pass on Gaga was the perk at the end of it all and continues to be a gift that I share with great passion and joy to dancers and non-dancers alike.
What inspired your work as a choreographer for Cristina, your original creation for our graduate students?
This work was inspired by a keen interest in exploring setting as an extension of feeling and character. Before I even arrived at the school, I had a clear image painted in my mind of a large carpet on stage. Despite it being a somewhat ambitious mental image, through sheer resourcefulness and exceptional class cooperation, we managed to materialize it, and with brio. I would have loved to explore embellishing the setting even further, but the simplicity of the carpet on its own ended up giving just the right amount of imagistic fervour. Realistically I knew that the two weeks allotted to my creation would not have been enough time to integrate a more complex scenography anyway, and in the end, I could not have been more pleased with the outcome.
My attraction towards the artefact of the carpet came from a desire to answer the questions: Where is the dance happening? What is the location? What is the atmosphere? Symbolically, I was interested in a carpet for its centeredness, contribution to depth perception, and enormous potential for fantasy. Carpets are also commonly found as places dedicated to ritual and devotion.
Music was another point of departure and inspiration, the final song of the piece being by famous Romanian singer Maria Tănase (1913-1963). As a Romanian immigrant, my familial lineage (often with an emphasis on the sacred feminine) and cultural expressions, which include music, folklore, language, and traditional costume, are recurring themes explored in the work that I do. Cristina is a piece combining many of my storytelling interests and personal narratives.
L'École de danse de Québec tient à remercier Laura Toma pour le partage de ces quelques pensées avec le public!L’EDQ reçoit chaque année plusieurs artistes, chorégraphes et professeurs invités afin d’initier les étudiants-danseurs à divers processus créatifs.
L’École de danse de Québec wishes to thank Laura Toma for sharing her thoughts with the public!
Each year, L'EDQ welcomes several dance artists, choreographers et guest teachers to initiate the contemporary dance students to diverse creative processes.
LAURA TOMA was born in Romania and raised in Ottawa. She is a graduate of the Laban Center in London, UK and The School of Dance in Ottawa. Her additional professional training includes theatre and American style latin and ballroom dance. In August of 2012 Laura graduated from the first official Gaga Teacher Training Program in Tel Aviv, Israel under the mentorship of Ohad Naharin and is the first certified Gaga teacher in Canada. She has taught for Compagnie Marie Chouinard, the RQD, l’ÉDCMTL, and L’École Supérieure de Ballet du Québec, among others. Laura, alongside Geneviève Boulet and Erin O'Loughlin, is a founding member of LA TRESSE collective. In 2017 they participated in Springboard Danse Montréal as Emerging Choreographers and in 2018 were featured as cover artists on the Dance Current magazine's March/April issue. In 2019 they returned to Springboard Danse Montréal as Resident Choreographers and in 2020-2021 were the recipients of the Gibney Company/Springboard Emerge Award. Additionally, Laura has been a core member of Andrea Peña & Artists since 2014 and in June of 2016 performed at the Venice Biennale of Dance for Israeli/French choreographer Emanuel Gat.
Photo credits : Valérie Boulet
Visionnez Cristina dans le cadre du spectacle Repères 3 des étudiant.e.s à la Formation supérieure en danse contemporaine de L’École de danse de Québec, qui sera diffusé en direct de la Maison pour la danse de Québec le samedi 11 décembre 2021 à 15 h.
Finissantes 2022 : Élisabeth Arsenault, Laurence Bécotte, Minerva Bonnabel, Noémie Chenard-Joe, Florence Côté, Maïna Darracq, Leticia Porto Gonçalves, Emmy Grégoire, Deya Lemière, Romane Picard, Léa Richard-Cormier, Sarah-Jane Savard, Jo Trozzo-Mounet
*Le programme Danse-interprétation de L'École de danse de Québec est offert en partenariat avec le Cégep de Sainte-Foy.