A quick Q and A with Kiri Figueiredo: 2012 Toronto Fringe Festival Dance Preview

With four shows left of The Gravity Hour at the Toronto Fringe Festival, here’s a little bit about the project director, choreographer and dancer Kiri Figueiredo as added incentive to check it out.

Lucy: Can you tell me a bit about your career and what you’ve been doing lately?

Kiri: I was born and raised in Toronto. My dance life really took off at Rosedale Heights School of the Arts, under the huge support and guidance of Maryanne Marsh. I didn’t have much training and she completely took me under her wing.

I went on to receive my BFA in Dance At Ryerson University. I lived in Vancouver for a few years working with a contemporary, Graham-based company DancersDancing with Judith Garay.

Now I am happily back in Toronto. I work as an independent contemporary dancer and choreographer, as well as a Yoga teacher. Recently, I have danced with The Canadian Opera Company in their Dora Mavor Moore Award winning production of Iphigenia in Tauris, worked with Kaha:wi Dance Theatre, and performed my work in Dance Matters – From The Fryin’ Pan in April.

Lucy: So how did the concept for your Fringe show develop?

Kiri: When I received the spot in this year’s Fringe, I reached out to the community to see who may be interested in splitting the program. I was delighted when I heard from both Michael Caldwell and Shannon Litzenberger. Both are lovely and intelligent people as well as artists.

Shannon had been working on a piece for JDance with Jesse Dell and Jordana Deveau for a while already and I thought the work would greatly compliment my work “Temperature of Weight” and so, it seemed that we were headed into a show with a lot of physical intensity and somewhat dark, dramatic themes.

Between the 3 of us, The Gravity Hour emerged. We added two other pieces to the program, Michael’s solo ‘Mary’ for Stephanie Tremblay Abubo and a new solo of my own entitled “Woman Kneeling in Dress”.

Lucy: Can you describe your creative process?

Kiri: My process usually begins with building movement vocabulary….in particular, phrases of hand gestures. For my work ‘Temperature of Weight’ you’ll see that each dancer has there own particular language of hand gestures that they repeat and expand upon throughout the piece.

For this piece, the costumes, over-sized men’s overcoats, really inspired the movement. So, this piece began from purely physical movement…and as the process went along, a strong mood and theme arose. A dark, weight…a burden, symbolized by the heavy overcoats, arose. And then a dramatic musical score from the group.

My solo has emerged in much the same way. I began with improvised gestures and a character eventually emerged. An image of a mysterious woman from a work of Austrian painter Egon Schiele’s further influenced the work.

Lucy: What was your inspiration to put your work on its feet in the Fringe Festival format?

Kiri: The fringe is a fun, casual atmosphere. I’ve been shy to get my work off the ground for the last few years…and am eager to show the community what I’m about! Also, to get a great team together and have a fun, inspiring time collaborating and sharing.

It’s been a huge learning experience as well in terms of producing. It’s a great setting to produce a show for the first time by having the support from the Fringe and it being such a fun, relaxed festival environment. I am learning a lot from Shannon and Michael as well.

Lucy: How would you describe your work to a non-traditional dance audience (eg a big portion of the regular fringe audience)?

Kiri: The Gravity Hour is a great show for first time contemporary dance audiences and dance enthusiasts alike! There is a lot of raw, dramatic physicality…Lots of very quiet moments of tenderness as well.

The show deals with very realistic, human emotions that resonate with each one of us… each piece tells it’s own unique story. And I really appreciate this… I find it so important in dance that we take care of our audiences by taking them on a journey somewhere, being clear in every aspect of our movement and our eyes, of our intention no matter how abstract it may be.

So, I invite theatre audiences to come watch some awesome physicality and enjoy it for what it is… Take the liberty to create your own response to the work. And let us know your thoughts!

Lucy:What inspires you to keep making, creating, producing, performing?

Kiri: It may seem kind of cheesy, but there is quote by the great Martha Graham that I’ve kept with me since high school. It speaks of the “blessed unrest” and “a queer, divine dissatisfaction” we feel when creating and how it drives us forward. How important it is to keep the creative channel open despite our many fears and judgements of our work.

I’ve disconnected from this quote in recent years, and let the many obstacles get the better of me. Just reading it again now it’s getting me re-inspired. I am feeling this drive so clearly right now while working on this project and I am inspired to “keep the channel open’ and keep creating after the show is complete.

It’s a hard world…and I see so much beauty in my fellow artists, such amazing talent and artistry. It is SO valuable to have each other to remind us of our worth as artists.

Martha Graham:

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.” As quoted in The Life and Work of Martha Graham (1991) by Agnes de Mille

 The Gravity Hour

By: Kiri Figueiredo, Michael Caldwell and Shannon Litzenberger

Company: Kiri Figueiredo Dance

Choreographers: Kiri Figueiredo, Michael Caldwell and Shannon Litzenberger

Cast: Jesse Dell, Jordana Deveau, Kiri Figueiredo, Sarah Fregeau, Daniel McArthur, Andrea Spaziani and Stéphanie Tremblay Abubo

Show length: 60min.

This performance is accessible for non-English speakers



Robert Gill

show times

July 06 07:30 PM

July 07 01:00 PM

July 08 10:15 PM

July 11 06:15 PM

July 12 08:30 PM

July 13 04:00 PM

July 14 03:30 PM

at-the-door tickets ($10)

advance tickets
($9 + $2 service charge)

Available up to three hours prior to the start of a performance: Online at www.fringetoronto.com

By Phone at 416-966-1062

July 2nd – 15th, daily, 9:30am – 6:30pm

In person at the Festival Box Office

July 4th – 15th, 12 – 10pm @ The Fringe Club, 581 Bloor St. W.

Value Packs:

5 Pack ($45) – savings of $510 Pack ($82) – savings of $18!more info: www.fringetoronto.com

photo by Omer Yukseker