Way Out West: Jennifer Mascall

We thought we’d save Jennifer to the very end. Artistic Director of Mascall Dance and founder of Way Out West, Jennifer is one of the most strangely wonderful ladies I have ever met.

Photo of Ron Stewart in WhaT,? Photo: Chris Randle. From Sept 22-23 in St. Johns, and Oct 1-3 in Victoria.

I first encountered her in Linda Putnam’s workshops during the first few years at WOW, and was taken by her presence, her honesty and her tenacity. Many years later, I still feel the same way.

I will let her words speak for themselves. Ladies and gentleman, Jennifer Mascall:

When was Way Out West (WOW) started and what was its original intention?

Way Out West was started seven years ago, when I was taking a year off as an artistic director in order to develop a BMC technique class, so the summer school was planned a year in advance. Originally I wanted a summer school to show off Vancouver teachers because I think we have some great ones here, and then hold workshops with three master teachers throughout the year, to give (me and I assumed other) professional dance artists, an ongoing training way beyond basics. The three teachers I was interested in was Linda Putnam, Amelia Itcush and Judith Koltai. By the second year of WOW we decided to amalgamate both streams. Ron Stewart was out guest artistic director that year and he named Way Out West. After six fabulous summers I am ready to re-thing, re-vamp and renovate WOW to include a new vision.

Ron Stewart in WhaT,? Photo: Chris Randle

How did you first get interested in improvisation and what is your current interest in the form?

I began performing with a guitar player while I was still at York University, and I didn’t have anything choreographed so I danced. Also, at York we had to take composition classes and I would improvise the assignments. It was terrifying because we had to repeat them three times and no one suggested I was improvising. I learned a lot about improvisation and composition doing that.

How has WOW changed over the years, and what are your hopes for its future?

WOW is unusual because it regenerates dancers, there is no 3PM lull and drag. I think it’s because of the style of teaching and the somatic content of the work. We will see this year with Ruth Zapporah’s work and the shortened time span of this year’s intensive.
I continue to be interested in somatic training and its research possibilities. I am also interested in all forms of improvisation and its performance. I continue to want to study with people I consider masters of their form. ¬†It’s possible WOW will stay running and I will make another workshop or intensive to go deeper into these aspects, these interests.

Dancer: Brandy Baybutt Photo: Chris Randle From The White Spider, April 2010 Vancouver International Dance Festival

Jennifer Mascall is teaching Body in Creation at Way Out West, Mascall Dance’s Summer Intensive, August 27th and 28th, 12:30 – 2:30pm. All classes are held at St. Paul’s church, 1130 Jervis Street, Vancouver BC. For more information visit mascalldance.ca and to register email wowclasses@gmail.com