Time and again over the course of her storied career, Vancouver-based dancer and choreographer Karen Jamieson has proven herself to be a force of nature (her choreography for 1983’s Sisyphus is considered one of the topten Canadian choreographic masterpieces of the twentieth century). But even an artist as experienced and celebrated as Karen Jamieson has something to learn from the Brief Encounters roller coaster; below, the Canadian dance legend brings us into her transformative collaboration with bouffon artist Nathaniel Justiniano.
Q: How did you feel heading into the Brief Encounters process?
KAREN: At this stage in my career and my life, what I’m most excited about is continuing to learn and grow. Brief Encounters has put me into this position where I have to open up and push out the boundaries of what I’ve normally done… and right into this strange world of the bouffon.
Brief Encounters provides that opportunity to be thrown out of your comfort zone, thrown out of what you’re used to and how you think about things and approach things. I did think, “oh my, this is maybe too big of a stretch, how will I come to meet this art?” But I was also excited by this opportunity.
Q: What’s the collaboration been like for you?
KAREN: It’s been really fun. It’s been also really difficult at times, too. We’re talking different languages. On one hand, we have discovered common ground , but there are also absolute departures in some of the modus operandi we use to work, and so it’s really hard. At the same time, I like to be challenged. I’ve always enjoyed watching Brief Encounters, and I’ve always enjoyed that sense of people being thrown out of where they like to be.
Q: Without giving too much away, what can we expect from your performance?
KAREN: I think we’ve contaminated each other, our practices and our performances. We maintain our differences on stage and yet at the same time there’s this weird hybrid that’s kind of emerged—this dancing bouffon. We’re from different universes.
Q: What advice do you have for artists who participate in future editions of Brief Encounters?
KAREN: I would say to get excited about how difficult it’s going to be. You’re going to come up against walls, and you’re going to come up against your own resistance to doing things other than how you’ve always done them.