FUTURES/forward Mentorships: Featuring Carolina Bergonzoni
FUTURES/forward Mentee, Carolina Bergonzoni — cohort #4, November 2021 to May 2022 — mentored by Susanna Uchatius
As part of the triad model, Carolina was placed as an artist-in-residence at Still Moon Arts Society, a Vancouver-based organization that works to create/maintain a healthy ecosystem (Still Creek and surrounds) and community where the arts thrive.
Community-engaged arts project co-created with Still Moon — to “activate” events and workshops with dance and movement to connect participants with each other and the environment, to create “live” and “living” collective performances at each activation.
Carolina Bergonzoni (she/her) is a dance artist, educator, curious human, somatic educator and practitioner, a bit of an overthinker, a dog trainer, a coffee drinker, and a PhD candidate in Arts Education at Simon Fraser University. She is a SSHRC fellow recipient, as well as the recipient of the Dean’s Entrance Graduate Scholarship and a Graduate Fellowship. Originally from Italy, she has been living as a settler on unceded Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil- Waututh), and xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam) territories since 2014. Carolina holds a BA and MA in Philosophy (University of Bologna), and an MA in Comparative Media Arts (SFU). Her work has been published in international journals and presented at a wide variety of conferences and dance festivals in Canada, Europe, and the USA. Carolina practice spans between dancing, writing, philosophizing, and teaching from the body. She has recently been making dance films that have screened internationally. She is challenging the labels of “professional” and “community-engaged” art making and facilitating. In all of her work, she values collaboration.
“Who would come dance in this rain?” I asked this question multiple times during the day, while getting mentally prepared to lead a 1-hour community-engaged dance workshop for World Water Day at Still Creek Ravine in Vancouver. To my surprise, 11 people came, eager to move and dance in the rain.
As I began leading the movement activities, people moved in and out of trees, some went into the ravine, others removed their shoes and let their feet experience the soil. My mentor Susanna’s words keep resonating in my head. Stillness, silence, moments of pause are a lot for most people. I asked the participants to listen to the rain, to observe the water in the ravine, and the smell of the trees around us. What a privilege to dance in nature!
The ideas that Susanna and I have been dialoguing about the most during the mentorship program could be summarized with “less is more”. This concept became a concrete movement practice for the workshop I lead on May 1st at dawn (yes, that’s 5:45am) for an event inspired by International Bird Dawn Chorus Day. We met at dawn, and we gathered in silence, listening to the birds, and witnessing how our bodies responded to it. After 45 minutes we gather around seed bread, jam, and tea and we shared our experiences.
The host organization, Still Moon Arts Society, and I decided I would do many short movement activities in a wide variety of contexts: online, in parking lots, for clean-up parties, to name a few. I have really enjoyed witnessing how movement helped people get together and build community. I began to understand my role as the “ice breaker activator,” but also the dance explorations that I led became opportunities for the participants to learn more about themselves and each other. The challenge of this approach was that sometimes I felt and was perceived as an uninvited guest since some folks where not expecting to have to move and dance at a ravine clean up event!
Throughout the program there were moments of tension and discomfort, but my mentor was always there to support me and really pushed me and challenged me to speak up even when I felt shy, or I struggled with it. I am so grateful to have this connection with Susanna and I am really looking forward to seeing where our growing relationship will bring us.
Some big take aways came out of this program: I feel more comfortable talking about my practice with others. More importantly, I am learning how to be in silence, be in the moments of stillness… and that less is more. This has been, and still is, a huge learning curve for me. On a practical level, the host organization has invited me back for a few more community-engaged projects and some of the people that attended the workshops are now taking my dance classes and have been invited to take part in the community projects I will be leading for the host organization.
We wish to thank Still Moon Arts Society for this collaboration and hosting Carolina Bergonzoni’s amazing artist-in-residency! FUTURES/forward gratefully acknowledges that Carolina’s mentorship thrived due in part to the generous support of the BC Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, and Judith Marcuse Projects.