parade of life

Paula Jardine

1956 - 1971
I grew up near the river valley in Edmonton, and we (my sister and brother and I ) spent much of our time there, and in the fields behind our house. There was a lot of open space because we were beside the railway tracks, in Strathcona. The Edmonton Fringe festival takes place in my old neighbourhood, in and around the health clinic, church and library where I spent my childhood.

My parents read us Grimm’s’ fairytales, and I think the morality of stories like Snow White and Rose Red, who are rewarded for inviting a bear to lie by their fire on a cold winter’s night, shaped my fundamental ethics. That story in particular my sister, brother and I performed many times for my mother in front of the fire place, sending my brother outside in the fake fur parka so that when he made his entrance he would be truly cold and have snow on his shoulders like in the story. We organized other events and shows with the kids in our neighbourhood.

I was a curious and sceptical child, and spent my first week of grade one searching my new reader for letters that weren’t in the alphabet. I even fantasized being in the newspaper for discovering this letter.

There were books everywhere in our house- which was my grandpa’s house. The How and Why Wonder Books are books I looked at often. This was a paperback series that covered different subjects like geology, and creatures beneath the sea, dinosaurs, and so on. It was while looking at the map of world religions in a Wonder Book that I had one of my first profound thoughts at the age of 10 or 11. I was staring at the map, divided into colour zones depicting various dominant religions. All the colours started to blend together and it was like there was a great grey cloud being created by the various religions praying. I suddenly understood they were all praying to the same god. I ran downstairs to tell my mother. It was like we met for the first time. We spent the rest of the evening talking about how we saw things like death and divinity.

In grade 5 I was made aware, by the snobby “pure Scottish” kids, that to be Ukrainian was to be a Bohunk. Whatever that was, it wasn’t good. I felt ashamed and didn’t even ask my mom what it meant. But then I leaned that Ukrainian Christmas was on a different day, so I bought my mom a gift for Ukrainian Christmas and decided to celebrate it as revenge on the popular kids who only had one Christmas.

My dad introduced me to the Oath of Athens at an early age, that we have an obligation as citizens to leave the world a better place than we found it.

I saw Vanessa Redgrave in the film about Isadora Duncan. In a solemn ceremony she burned her parents’ marriage certificate and pledged to marry herself to art. I couldn’t find my parents’ certificate but made the same resolution.

When we were in our early teens we started to get a sense of the outside world when a youth hostel called Soft Machine opened up across the tracks from us. Some artists moved in, and we were introduced to the idea that you could live without conventional jobs or furniture.

 

1971
I went to an art opening at Latitude 53 gallery for “ ManWoman and the Paperbag Catholics.” There was a popcorn communion, and lots of happy smiling bold drawings. The work was definitely spiritual, but not sombre, oppressive or guilt-inducing. It was revolutionary!

Later that year a mask carver and his troupe, the Aphrodesian Dancers, moved in to another house across the tracks. They teamed up with ManWoman and somehow my sister and I joined the troupe for a show. We performed a kind of mating dance with grouse feathers on our bums. More profoundly, we were painted with intricate designs in white acrylic all over our half-naked bodies, and we danced in a torchlight procession led by ManWoman dressed as Death.

Back at high school I mainly hung out in the art room, with my brother and Geoff McMurchy and a few others whom we still know. We formed an experimental theatre group (I had been kicked out of drama the year before). I described my experience at the Edmonton high school as “social torture.” When I heard about the Vancouver Society for a Total Education and their student-lead courses, I was determined to go there. I quit my high school in Edmonton halfway through the year and moved to Vancouver to attend.

At Total Ed I learned about Gertrude Stein and Concrete Poetry. I did a grade 12 history paper on Greek Theatre and a grade 12 biology paper on dreams and the hypnagogic state. In the Whole Earth Catalogue I learned that if you want to remember your dreams, you should look at your hands and say “when I am dreaming I will look at my hands”, thus creating a bridge between your consciousness and subconscious. I became quite good at remembering and understanding my dreams, and was even able to stop my dreams and disentangle the meanings while they happened.

 

1973-1978
I read about Theatre Passe Muraille - finally theatre that was relevant to the real lives of people! I showed up in Toronto, and they felt they had to deal with me, so I was given a job answering the phone. I graduated to box office, then follow spot, and eventually I performed, helped in costumes, assisted with sound effects, hung lights, swept stages, toured and learned how to write grant applications. At the end of my apprenticeship, I directed my first three shows.

At the time I was reading lots of Jean Cocteau, Anais Nin, and Artaud. It was Artaud's words – “you must speak to the audience in a language they understand” - that stayed with me. The director of Theatre Passe Muraille, Paul Thompson, also introduced me to Brecht, and the idea of breaking the “fourth wall” between performers and audience.

Through my apprenticeship, I absorbed Theatre Passe Muraille’s sense of the importance of people seeing themselves represented in art. As a Ukrainian- Scottish girl from the prairies finding my way in an Anglocentric world, this had a particular resonance with me, and can be seen right throughout my work.

 

1977-1980
In 1977 my friend Geoff McMurchy broke his neck diving into water that was too shallow. I immediately hitch-hiked home. I decided to attend university while I stayed in Edmonton to keep Geoff company. I enrolled in Rudy Weibe’s writing class, and immersed myself in Canadian literature and the cause of defining ourselves as Canadians. In a 2nd year psychology course I was required to read Bettleheim, whose analysis of fairytales struck me as narrow and inaccurate.

I attended sweat ceremonies at Enoch and Poundmaker reserves, sitting on the earth at 40 below weather. I was also reading folktales, and was so excited to read one Russian tale where the hero bows to the four directions before setting out on a journey. After that, I continued to look for ways that cultural beliefs intersected.

Other influences included Jack Hodges, whose book The Invention of the World linked old country myth and new world history; Bear, by Marion Engle; Robert Kroetsche, and the conversation about finding our true voice, writing the way we talk. I was reading about the trickster, the hero's journey, Gurdjeff and Sufism. I began to formulate ideas of foundation myths as the place to start in theatre for a community. In 1980 Peter Lewis’ High Level Bridge Waterfall was inspiring. Lewis, working in cooperation with engineers and city departments, created a waterfall on the flat prairie! The first time they turned it on, at night, we were crashing through the forests I had played in as a child with hundreds of other people, nobody talking, nobody buying anything. It was a rare and magnificent moment.

I first met Calvin Cairns, the musician I later married, at this time. I also produced (with Donna Grunke and Henry Van Rijk), the first Public Dream in 1979. Called “Inner Cities,” it addressed the issue of homelessness with an outdoor performance in an alleyway. The performance was free, but if you wanted to sit down we charged $5. rent.

In Edmonton that summer Calvin and I saw a K’saan performance. It included an opening ritual of the audience making noises and gestures. They were invited to throw all their energy onto the stage where the performer gathered it in a growing ball, which he then hauled out of the auditorium through the crowd and tossed it out door. Everyone cheered. All previous tensions were dispelled and we were bound together as a group.

This was also the first summer I applied for and received a canada council explorations grant, to do a story research project in the midnight twilight tourist zone. Due to a romantic notion of what writers should do, I isolated myself in a cabin on the edge of Calling Lake, 6 hours north of Edmonton, with no car. I ended up having a breakdown. My mother brought me back to the city where for weeks I couldn’t stop crying. I felt I was really neither a writer nor an actor. What was I? I spent time in the city archives and did a piece on High Level Bridge Suicides.

“The Twilight Series: a voice in the Wilderness” grew out of that struggle, and I established a weekly open stage cabaret at a Northern Lights Theatre. The Twilight Series gave me a place to try new works without being responsible for the whole evening. There were some great (and strange) regulars and it became very popular. And I finally understood what kind of performer I was and spent the next few years performing as a contemporary storyteller.

During this time I was introduced to David Goa, curator of folk life at the Alberta Provincial Museum. He did a show about orthodox icons, and the idea of the icon as a window into the universe. It was from him that I learned about the cultural significance of the winter solstice, and because of his influence that I began to explore my relationship with nature - specifically the cultural traditions that link us to the natural world both in and around us.

Another friend, rick/simon, helped me see my ideas as art, not just weird eccentricities and further proof that I would never fit in. We spent lots of time together documenting the renovation of the city - buildings coming down, the city encased in hoardings – as I worked on the plans for “Public Dreams: A Walking Tour.”

 

1980
One day I heard an interview on Peter Gzowski’s Morningside with John Fox and Boris Howarth of Welfare State, describing a production of The Tempest they were doing at the Toronto Theatre Festival. I was having a hard time peeling my brain away from the literalism of the Passe Muraille work. What Welfare State was doing sounded like just what I was looking for. Consumed with the need to go to Toronto and meet them, I wrote a show called "The Girl From Alberta" and applied to perform at he festival.

What Welfare State was doing was outrageous and spectacular. They used a giant spider puppet operated by eight people, coloured smoke effects, burning models of ships pushed out into the lake against a backdrop of the Toronto skyline, women in Louis the XVI wigs, a performance that ended in a barn dance, and then a procession with open flame torches. It was so far removed from any Shakespeare or anything else I’d ever seen, that I was changed forever. I performed a story for Welfare State at their farewell social and managed to get invited to join their barn dance tour of England planned for the following winter.

I went home to Edmonton where we created “Public Dreams: The Walking Tour.” It was a journey from reality to the valley of dreams, across the High Level Bridge. The journey was a search for the spirit of the city, and a dialogue between science and religion.

When we reached the other side of the bridge, we had a big pot of cold water with lemon slices and a dipper in it to refresh people for the rest of the journey. Somehow it ended up people lining up to have the water administered to them, like communion, rather than helping themselves. It was an odd phenomenon that stayed with me - a first window onto people’s need for ritual, and the power and responsibility that comes with doing things in public.

Right after “The Walking Tour” Calvin and I broke up. I worked intensely, travelling to England to tour with Welfare State as a storyteller in the winter of 1981.

 

Meeting Welfare State

1981-3
Returning to Edmonton, I was lost again and super poor. I was a terrible waitress and barely hung on to the one job I got. I took to walking across the river valley to my dad and grandpa’s house and stealing food from their deep freeze. If they ever noticed, they didn’t mention it. I lived in an apartment building filled with friends that I worked with, and we fed each other.

I remember very clearly standing at an intersection on a cold winter night and stomping my foot and saying to no one in particular “I want a job. And I want it to be something I’ve never done before and I want to make lots of money.” Three days later I was hired on at the National Film Board as an assistant editor to Anne Wheeler, and it was that job that financed “A Wake for the Dead of Winter.”

I was reading “The Journals of Albion Moonlight” and folk tales about the seasons. One thing that links us in Edmonton is that we are plunged into darkness for a good part of the year. “A Wake for the Dead of Winter” was an exploration of that darkness in both nature and archetype. The landscape was a metaphor for the inner journey. Our quest was for the brave youth - our spirit, our innocence, our belief in spring’s return. It was also a ritual for my mother, who was overcoming huge fears to leave her job and start a new life. (Later I wrote “The True Story of How my Mother Dropped out of Society” which was the centrepiece for Mrs. Paula’s storytelling performances.)

This was all an intense time when my life and my work were inseparable. My dreams wrote the script for “The Agitated Man and His Quest for Material Oneness,” which was produced as a film in 1982 as part of “A Wake.” The Film Board gave us carte blanche with equipment and facilities, and some of the best film professionals in the city volunteered with us just for the fun of it all. I was very happy - though I was a chain smoker and in the final week of production for “A Wake” I had a very high fever.

 

1983-1986
After “A Wake for the Dead of Winter” I thought I would like to explore the form of procession, and was given the opportunity to do this through my involvement with Universiade, at the World University Games in 1983. I volunteered to be Parade Boss and created six international parades.
(calling myself parade boss was based on the Hutterites in Rose Town I had visited while working with Theatre Passe Muraille; they had a Pig Boss, and a Cow Boss, a Chicken Boss… so I became the Parade Boss)

My first parade was for Canada Day. Led by the divine Drummers of Ghana, Ralph Lee’s Metawee River Company carried illuminated fish through the birch forest I had played in as a child, down into the river valley for the fireworks finale. We did six parades in eight days and pretty much owned the downtown core. To me the entire event was a ritual to reclaim the city for the people, now that the intense building period (and the boom of the 80’s) was over.

The “City Celebration” included a ceremonial cutting of red tape at city hall: I organized city staff on the top floor of the building to hurl streamers of red surveyors tape out the windows simultaneously to mark the climax of the event.

The Finale was called “New Reflections.” Evelyn Roth created a giant nylon sun strung on the golden tiered front of the new Scotia tower. There were hundreds of performers including a choir in white robes, a dancer who emerged from a lotus flower, and giant inflated balls that the crowd manipulated. My job was the Hotel Hell – produced with fire elements in the older building across the corridor that was one of the few affordable buildings downtown for artists’ studios. One of the events was a parade of my own invention: a Death Dance parade around the perimeter of the site was intended to scare away any bad spirits, and make the site safe for the celebration.

Here's how Reg Sylvester described it in the Edmonton Bullet (july 22,1983)
“The parade was startlingly primitive – primitive us rather than some kind of sanitized ritual performance from some other continent, brought here and presented as exotica. This was a mystical procession, a reminder that a parade is not necessarily a line up of colourful floats hawking products and organizations.
“The entire event combined the efforts of community choirs, visiting arts groups, fitness groups and volunteers in an event that re-claimed the downtown core, “baptizing” and transforming the landscape, and our relationships to it, forever. “

The Universiade was followed by “The Snow Queen” in December, played out indoors and outdoors through 6 blocks of downtown. School children, city staff, city electrical engineers, actors, film students, the local EST group, and children’s bell choir were all involved. Local anarchists played the part of the robbers. Filmmakers carried puppets. The window dressers at Eaton’s dressed the set for Anne Wheeler’s performance as the Lapp Woman and the Finn Woman.

I got back together with Calvin in the spring, my first time working for the Caravan Theatre (In 1984 I had to lie to get a job as a pyro-technician; I only knew how to make torches. I learned how to make explosions by looking up a special effects guy in the yellow pages who agreed to teach me a few things in one afternoon.) I followed Calvin to Saskatchewan where he started the Romaniacs and I collaborated with Maria Campbell to do a Public Dream at Gabriel’s crossing near Batoche, for the 100th anniversary of the battle there.

We spent the winter in Toronto, where I collaborated with Ida Carnivali to create a winter solstice parade for the Kensington Market, and developed the “Mrs. Paula” character in performance at the Ritz café. (a 2nd edition of the Fiction Sampler I self published at that time is available at the original price of $9.99 plus s&h )

 

1986
Leslie Fiddler, who had finished the arts administration course at Grant McKewan College, produced the The Snow Queen in 1983. At that time we had agreed that I should move to Vancouver and start a company with her, but it took the coming of Expo to draw me to Vancouver. I moved to Strathcona near Leslie. We formed the Public Dreams Society (along with Dolly Hopkins who I had also met during Universiade) and began working on “Journey to the New World.”

In “Journey to the New World,” I explored the idea of foundation myth as the starting point for theatre in a community. Edward Lamb was collecting Chinese folk tales as part of his masters project, and I worked with him to develop the script. There was a group of “crazy artists” in the neighbourhood who the older, primarily Chinese, Italian and Russian, neighbours were quite dubious about. The production went a long way to create a sense of belonging for those artists as the community was drawn into the production through constructions of puppets blocking the sidewalk, rehearsals in the parks, invitations to translate our program and any other way to involve more people.

Welfare State was doing a show at Expo, and we were the happy recipients of their abundant leftover materials and occasional assistance. Having Welfare State working with artists in the neighbourhood established a common vocabulary for talking about what it was we were doing. All the activity around Expo, both on and off the site, galvanized a portion of the arts community in ways that are still real today.

After Expo Calvin and I had a three day wedding on Saturna Island, and headed back to Toronto. Along the way it was discovered that I was pregnant, and we both agreed that having a baby in Toronto was not something we wanted to do. We wanted to be near our mothers, both on the west coast. We stayed in Toronto long enough for Calvin to complete a tour with the Romaniacs, then moved back to Vancouver.

I spent the last months of my pregnancy playing solitaire (Calvin was still touring) and writing the script for the Enchanted Forest. Although it was an interesting project it was not a very good play. I cried all the way to work during rehearsals because I had to leave my two-month-old baby at home.

The birth of my daughter Magnolia was the most profound, life-changing experience I have ever had: when my water broke I felt a surge of energy connecting my to deep in the earth - through all the layers of concrete in the hospital floor, and a shooting sensation on the lateral plane connecting me to all of human history, past and future. Enchanted Forest was an attempt to explore those connections, but my brain was addled.

 

1989-1995
In 1989 I was invited to teach lantern-making at the Banff centre, based solely on the fact that I had worked with Welfare State. I learned how to make lanterns by teaching the workshop, and I fell in love with the form. What attracted me, besides that it was pure light in darkness, and pure form, was that it had universal roots and that it required no language for understanding or participation. At the time I was pregnant with my daughter Lucy, whose name came on the morning I woke up and thought “I’m pregnant. It’s a girl. Her name is Lucy.” (It was years later when I noticed the connection between starting a festival of light while I was pregnant with a girl named Lucy- from luc/lux-light.)

All I wanted to do was make lanterns, and do non-narrative processionals in landscape. Leslie wanted to create something for Trout Lake, in East Vancouver. Together with members of public dreams, we planned Illuminares, a summer festival of light.

Illuminares’ structure combined foundation myth (we began with First Nations drumming, and a bag pipe played the sun down) with hero’s journey. Travelling through the willows with lanterns represented the dark forest part of the journey, and its successful completion was celebrated with fireworks. There were always gifts for people who strayed from the path, little jewels of installations in out of the way nooks. We put singers in trees, or out in the middle of the lake on a boat.

We created the people from the Four Corners of the world the second year of Illuminares: giant multi-racial puppets who danced a square dance to a bagpipe and taiko drums. Illuminares became a family and neighbourhood tradition.

In 1990 I attended an international conference of celebration artists. We were invited to a corn dance at a pueblo just outside of Santa Fe, where we witnessed the phenomenon of “The River Men” dressed in hooded masks, and looking like Spanish priests who came from the swamps. The River Men went from house to house with burlap sacks collecting food and bad children. We witnessed one boy being escorted - terrified- down the road as if being taken to the river. The River Men carried whips, and kept order during the corn dance, but they also helped little kids whose costumes came undone, and were generally considered a holy and good thing.

Meanwhile I was now the mother of two girls, and acutely aware that their cultural identity was in my hands. It was after attending the Halloween fireworks at our local community centre – consisting of $600 of fireworks set off one at a time behind a chain link fence while we ate hot dogs and drank watery hot chocolate from styrofoam cups - that I got my next idea. Parade of the Lost Souls was my attempt to reclaim Hallowe’en’s sacred aspects. I was also interested in establishing a story- Vasillisa's Journey- in an annual event - to see what would happen, to see if a true new community culture could evolve.

My two biggest influences were Metawee River’s Hallowe’en parade in Greenwich village (I had seen one photo) and an incident in Kensington market, probably in 1976: I was heading out by myself to a Hallowe’en party - my costume was a cardboard box on my head with eye holes cut in it. In the gap between two buildings a figure appeared and beckoned me to follow. I did. I was led to an inner court yard. There were road flares set at the four corners of the yard, and a single figure swept the centre clear. Words were spoken about the veil between life and death being lifted this night. We were offered Kool-Aid in paper cups (This was before Jonestown) which we drank. Then we were all blindfolded and instructed to hold on to the shoulders of the person in front of us and not let go. We were taken on a snake dance, a journey to the underworld and back.

For the first few Parades of the Lost Souls, a band of witches swept the pathway clean. Also in the first year one of the main figures was the compost king (Earle Peach), who dumped compost on an abandoned lot and former gas station that offended the neighbourhood. While I was director of the Parade of the Lost Souls it was narrated in Spanish and English. This was in acknowledgement of the day of the dead observed by the large Latin American population in our neighbourhood.

(In 1995, a few years later and the first year that I didn’t direct the event, I was called away to Edmonton to attend my father’s death. He died on Hallowe’en. It set me on my course to exploring funeral rites and practices. When I went to the funeral home with my siblings we were appalled at what was on offer. I felt a moral obligation to bring something truer, more meaningful to this important event in everyone’s life. )

During this time I participated in Chalk Talk, a public art/action with Buster Simpson, and the Urban Landscape Symposium in 1992. In 1993 I produced a paper for Environment Canada on art for community development on environmental issues. I learned about my hero Merle Laderman Ukeles, and her “Touch Sanitation” project, as well as Suzanne Lacy’s work, especially “The Crystal Quilt” and “Shut Up and Listen.”

We were concerned that the Illuminares celebration each summer took place around a lake that was being closed to swimming at least once every summer. My sister is a hydro-geologist and her partner is a stream restoration biologist. Out of our conversations the idea of a restoration project was born. I went to Susan Gordon at Parks and Recreation, who has been a champion of community arts and culture in Vancouver since I’ve known her. The proposal to do something at Trout Lake - I wanted to daylight the streams - coincided with Susan Gordon’s and Bryan Newson’s plans to initiate an artist-in-residence program in community centres. The Trout Lake Restoration Project was the pilot project for that program.

I worked with Anne Marie Slater, who created a comprehensive and methodical plan and together we hosted nearly a dozen public events. We collected oral histories at tea parties, had planning sessions with engineers, biologists, and a broad section of the community, created art, and produced a twenty-year plan for the lake. There was money in place for stream daylighting; all we had to do was act. But there was a group of people who challenged our right to do anything in the community because we didn’t live within three blocks. They were argumentative and alienated the original core of community members on the committee. Finally, with the money in place for the streams, they insisted that the biologist position be put up for tender- rather than letting my sisters partner, a committee member and the person who had applied for the grant and done all of the preliminary analysis, do the job. He quit in disgust and the project died.

 

1995
I was burned out after the collapse of the Trout Lake Restoration Committee, and I felt like I was missing my children’s childhoods. After Illuminares that year, we moved to Salt Spring Islands and, a year later, to Victoria.

Disconnected from the art community I had in Vancouver, I faced a painful time of identity crisis. The years that followed involved a lot of looking after my family, and trying to re- invent myself as an artist. I didn't want to do what I had done before, and for a long time I especially never wanted to do anything with a big group of people ever again.

I started painting and fell in love with the ecstatic experience of painting landscapes. There is really nothing like it. It's such a complete commitment to observation. My body is often shaking after I paint. I did much research into the buried and forgotten stories in my own family’s history.

Grampa's health started to fail and my sister and I took turns looking after him. We were incredibly naive about what we were taking on. I remember spending a desperate and disheartening afternoon searching a bookstore’s shelves for a guide. Between baby care and dealing with death, there was nothing on looking after old people. Those winters much of my time was spent waiting for my grampa to get up (sometimes as late as 4pm) and serving his breakfast, feeding the family when Lucy got home at 6, helping Lucy with homework, then cleaning the kitchen or baking and finally reading out loud to my Grampa. What kept me going was making notes for a book I never wrote on the care and feeding of the elderly.

 

2000-2006
Starting in 2000, I embarked on a research project with Marina Szijarto to explore funeral rites and practices. A chance conversation led us to realize we were both thinking about the lack of meaningful ritual around death and mourning, so we agreed to do a project together. Our ultimate goal was to write a book and form a company that would provide creative funeral services. We did a couple of presentations at the Death & Dying Forum in Vancouver and the Spiritual Care conference in Victoria. It astonished me that so many people working in death care were unaware of our rights regarding final disposition. Marina and I travelled to England to meet artists and green burial advocates. I was reading many books about death, most notably: Bulfin’s Funeral Customs the World, Bulfin; Mourning & Mitzvah by Anne Brener; Deeply into the Bone~ Re-inventing Rites of Passage by Ronald L. Grimes; and The Mourners Dance by Katherine Ashenburg. At the same time, my ferociously independent oldest daughter moved to vancouver, and I was caring for my aging Grandfather.

In 2003 the Wild Salmon Guild was formed. I read First Fish, First People, Salmon tales of the North Pacific Rim and Cascadia Salmon, a wild salmon fanzine, by Amber Gayle.

In 2004 I quit smoking, attending a potlatch in Alert Bay. Three days later my Grandpa died. My sister and I sat vigil with his body, despite the coroner’s office threatening us and claiming by law his body had to be removed. Thanks to my research, I knew better.

I began organizing a show of artist-made containers for burial and cremation. The venues for this show changed, and fell through three times before I met Glen Hodges at the Mountain View Cemetery in January 2005. After being turned down for a cultural grant, Glen hired me as an employee, thus creating a position of artist at the cemetery that will not go away during his tenure. (or so we had hoped)

In January 2004 I participated in the “Documenting Engagement” project, during which eight community artists produced short films on their work. Reviewing my work, I realized a big part of what I am doing is creating the world I want to live in, here and now. I created the video "Paula Jardine: Public Dreamer"

Also in the fall of 2004 I was contracted to write a project plan for a community dance event in Victoria, and in February 2005 was offered the job of artistic director. Working on the dance project brought me back to my love of dance, forced me to meet new people, and gave me an opportunity to express myself in my physical landscape in a way that made me feel like I was returning to myself. The final production was Dance Encounters, performed on Summer Solstice, 2006.

The dance project was a gift of a fresh approach to community and environment, and I felt excited about being an artist in a way I hadn't for a long time. I am very grateful to Dance Victoria, Doug Durand and Stephen White for giving me the opportunity to meet my new community through this project.

I was reading Bill Burns’ "Safety Equipment for Small Animals" , and planning new work about the bottom of the sea, and the intertidal zone, with my sister in law and wild salmon colleague Robi Smith.

(with thanks to Jill Pollack and Caffyn Kelly)

This chronology was written in 2005
a version of it, with corresponding photo images, can be seen at the:
islands institute gallery site, click on "the journey":

See links and publications for more contemporary writings