Interview w/ Justine A. Chambers

Contemporary dance artist, educator and arts advocate Justine A. Chambers will be teaching Contemporary Technique at this year’s WOW:

August 24, 25 + 26, 10–11:30am

To register, please see our site (registration is highly recommended and cheaper. Drop-ins are welcome, but are space-dependent):

Can you only attend a portion of the classes or workshops? PERSONALIZE YOUR WOW! Please contact us with your desired schedule and we will do our best to accommodate you:



1. What helps you get through a long day of dancing?


Food and folks. Having a well stocked arsenal of nourishing food (and/or good take-out food options) keeps me energetically on task. The people I share the studio with are also a large contributing factor in keeping me energized, focused and inspired.



2. What is your number one injury prevention tip?


Warm up and warm down properly. Prepare your body specifically for the choreography you will be performing/executing that day and take time at the end of the day to unwind the body from the day’s work. Of course Traumeel, Rescue Remedy, Yamuna rolling balls, Advil (in more extreme circumstances) and regular osteopathic visits are part of my maintenance regime.



1. What/Whose work are you currently drawn to in the contemporary art world? Does your interest in this work affect your practice as a contemporary dance artist? If so, how?


I am inspired by the work of visual artists Bruce Naumann, Andrea Zittel, Ken Lum, Ryan Peter and Oliver Laric. I am drawn to them because they are so succinct. I am always struck by how these artists clearly illuminate the ‘every day’ and unveil our humanity through their medium(s). Naumann, Zittel and Lum allow what the work necessitates to dictate the medium used to manifest the idea. I love this idea of fluidity around the medium itself. I always ask myself when developing work if I am purely seduced by what I’ve made or if it’s necessary to propel the work forward; is there another medium to be explored that will communicate the work more clearly?


“If I was an artist and I was in the studio, then whatever I was doing in the studio must be art. At this point art became more of an activity and less of a product.” -Bruce Naumann.


I have a long term preoccupation with architecture and unspectacular movement (gesture and quotidian movements) and how each influences the other. My interest in developing movement is contextualized by our ‘human-ness’ and the inherent and latent narratives embedded in our bodies whether universal or personal. Space considerations, both existing or fabricated often act as the catalyst for the content of my work.


I am also deeply inspired by my peers in dance, visual art, sound, design, publishing and fashion/textiles. I find our conversations and arguments around creation, proliferation of art, daily practice, convention in art and life, and survival endlessly fascinating.This ‘shop talk’ is an important part of my daily life. It helps situate me.


2. How does your work as a teacher relate to your work as a choreographer?


I consider my choreographic work as a distillation of what I propose in a technique class. I aim to create a class which prepares the body and the mind for negotiating space (internal and external) and movement (from minutia to large dynamic movement). Developing an awareness, strategies and tactics for movement pathways through the body and space exists in both my choreography and my class. Choreographically, I deal with these negotiations within the context of the every day or the banal through architectural structures and the subversion of quotidian physical behaviours using the tasks of reorganization, re-patterning, distillation and repetition.




3. What can we do to ameliorate the status of professional dance in Canada (particularly in response to the recent attack on Margie Gillis by Sun TV)?


There are a number of things we can do! Get involved with local arts advocacy/education groups (i.e.CADA-BC, Vancouver Public Space Network, Alliance for Arts And Culture, ArtStarts). Speak to all people about what you do as a dance artist and remind them how art already inhabits their life. Develop your own personal argument for the necessity of art in our community and spread the good word. If you don’t want to speak about it get in front of people and do it. Acts of public art are always a good way to engage the ‘general public’ (i.e.Intersection Project, Cie Willi Dormer, 30×30 Paul-André Fortier). Most importantly we must keep making work. If the thrust behind creating work falls away, the already waning support for it will disappear. – a good resource for arts and arts advocacy organizations in North America.