Rehearsing outside has its ups and downs. While it saves cash-strapped artists on studio rental, it also requires incredibly flexibility. Passersby stop and gawk. Pigeons land in the middle of scenes. The weather doesn’t always cooperate. But for the Throwdown Collective (Mairéad Filgate, Zhenya Cerneacov and Brodie Stevenson), it’s both essential to the work and a hell of a lot of fun.
“We were working on this spot under the DVP for a few weeks and a security guard came by and kicked us off because he said we were wrecking the grass,” Filgate says. “At the same time it’s great because people stop to watch and talk to us. Someone asked me a few weeks ago if I was practising to be a stripper. We’ve been joking that we’re doing outreach for the show.”
Called 1981 FM, the company’s third collaboration was created especially for Dusk Dances. Now in its 19th year, the annual outdoor event brings choreography to parks around the province each summer.
“It’s one of my favourite events because it combines all the things that are important to me,” Filgate says. “It’s an outdoor venue, so some people are just happening upon it, and it feels like you’re connecting with an audience who wouldn’t normally see something like this. You feel like you’re really in contact with people because you’re not on a stage. There’s the element of unpredictability, so you have to be flexible and spontaneous, but that means every performance is unique.”
1981 FM makes use of an unwieldy prop: a Chevrolet Chevette from the same year. Decked in secondhand-store costumes dating from the period, the trio use their signature acrobatic style of performance to tell the loose story of an afternoon drive gone wrong.
“The car alone has been a logistical nightmare,” Filgate says with a laugh. “The week after we got kicked out of the rehearsal spot it burst into flames. We had to spend a lot of money to make it function, but it’s totally worth it. Every time we drive it around we get catcalls.”