It began with an unexpected collaboration between two diverse artists.
For most of her career as a Canadian dance artist, Peggy Baker had worked mainly with classical musicians. For her latest piece Peggy wanted to collaborate with a woman from the rock-and-roll world.
“I wrangled an introduction to violinist Sarah Neufeld who is from the award-winning band Arcade Fire. We created a piece and performed it together and had a blast,” Peggy recalls. “On the morning of our second show we decided we were going to create a full-length performance.
who we are in the dark is the result of that collaboration and it’s bigger and bolder than anything Peggy has done before. “I knew I had to create a show with more visual richness to meet the sonic power of Sarah’s music,” says Peggy.
Peggy’s latest creation features seven dancers, up from her usual five. It’s also visually and technically complex. “Visually I wanted to go beyond pure lighting design and expand it to include projection design and soft drops (a backdrop made from fabric),” Peggy explains. “Plus the complexity of this particular live music requires a sound engineer to run it. It’s much more technical than anything I’ve done in the past.”
So much about Peggy’s recent work makes it an ideal project to receive an investment from the NAC’s newly launched National Creation Fund. Beginning in November 2017, the Fund will invest up to three million dollars a year in the development of 15 to 20 compelling and ambitious new Canadian works in theatre, dance, music and interdisciplinary performing arts — works like who we are in the dark that have strong artistic teams and producing partners, and are likely to have national and international impact.
“It takes a lot of time and resources to create works that are bold and ambitious, to test ideas and go beyond the initial concept,” says Heather Moore, Artistic Producer, National Creation Fund. “If we want Canadian artists to punch above their weight, which they have the talent to do, we need to support them.”
Peggy submitted a proposal to the National Creation Fund and was delighted when who we are in the dark was selected to receive an investment to support its final development trajectory, which culminates in a week-long technical residency in a fully equipped theatre with the entire creative team and final design elements.
“We wouldn’t be able to do the technical residency in a theatre without this funding and that’s the silver bullet for this project,” says Peggy. “The whole show is highly technical and it would have been risky to bring it to the stage without the residency.”
Heather says she’s talked to many artists like Peggy who tell her the first time they see their show come together with lighting, sound and projections is opening night. “All artists talk about the importance of time to nurture, time to bring their entire creative team together,” says Heather. “With this funding we’re giving Peggy the chance to work with her whole team, to simulate the actual theatrical experience and refine the work to put it over the top.”
Peggy is grateful for the National Creation Fund, which helps artists across the country think larger and ask the question, “What if?” Peggy confides, “It’s a game-changer. Already doors are opening for me. For the very first time my company has the opportunity to pitch this work for international presenters. I wouldn’t have been given this opportunity if I didn’t already have the kind of backing that allows presenters to be confident in what I may be able to bring them.”
The National Creation Fund only came into being thanks to the extraordinary generosity of NAC supporters. “I’m so thankful to the donors who had the vision to support artists in the hard-to-define creation process,” says Heather. “As projects develop, we’re going to post videos and updates on the website and encourage donors to come out and see the progress, to follow the work and understand they helped make it happen. I want supporters to have pride in the work they were a part of creating.”
Visit nac-cna.ca/en/creationfund for updates on the various projects receiving an investment from the National Creation Fund.