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Wabi-Sabi Love puts modern dance centre stage

Gruff Goat Dance presents pair of Pemberton performances on Feb. 15 and 16

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Just over five years ago, Trish Belsham and her husband were on a hunt to find their next home in B.C. after a stint on a ranch in the interior.

When they visited Pemberton during their quest, Belsham was immediately struck by one observation. “I liked the way the women walked through downtown,” she says.

For context, Belsham spent 20 years as a dancer with several Vancouver companies. She has a degree in performance and choreography in modern dance, alongside a long list of varied experience in everything from wellness to dance medicine and kinesiology.

But at the time of that initial trip to Pemberton she was deep into studying feminine power through an online program. “It was life changing for me, for sure,” she says. “Studying feminine power and understanding the principles and practices of feminine power and what that was all about, it had a lot to do with my life as a performer. To build self-confidence and embody the truth of what (women) know about themselves, I saw that expressed here from the women walking down the street. They seemed like powerful women. When your work is about watching someone walk across the room, it gives you a lot of information about them.”

Spoiler alert: Belsham and her husband chose to move to the valley. She started Gruff Goat Dance and began to teach both teens and adults modern dance. The company’s next performance is a big one.

Called Wabi-Sabi Love, it’s set to take place on Feb. 15 and Feb. 16 at Mountain Movement Dance Collective in Pemberton.

For the production, Belsham tapped into her skills as a transformative coach and facilitator. She started out by asking her dancers three questions: 1. What do you most yearn for in your life? 2. What’s in the way of receiving that? 3. Do you wish to live your life this way?

Then, based on their answers, she choreographed a dance for them. “It’s been really interesting for me because it’s given—as a pilot program—insight into what to do with coaching in terms of the work that I do as a transformative coach,” she says. “We’re embodying the answers to those questions and working them out that way.”

In total, the show will include 14 dances—with nine dancers who range from highly trained to beginner—featuring everything from clowns to burlesque techniques. The dancers are all women, save for one number that features a cameo appearance by one of the dancer’s partners.

It might sound like high-concept art, but Belsham thinks Pemberton—and the Sea to Sky corridor—is ready. “There are people that have been here for a long time finding their niche, there are people that are moving in from larger cities,” she says. “Sometimes I hear people say, ‘We’re here and we love it and the air is fresh and it’s affordable, but also where do we go to be entertained?’ … It’s always been a creative community. The population is growing enough so there’s enough like-minds to partner with one another.”

Tickets for the shows—which both start at 7:30 p.m.—are $20 on eventbrite at https://bit.ly/2RAeSE2. It takes place at the Mountain Movement Dance Collective.

For more information on Gruff Goat Dance visit gruffgoatdance.com.

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