Exhibitionists·Video

Michelle Olson's new choreography honours loss, dreams and the transformations of women

In Gathering Light, Olson is imagining women who are on a journey to step into their own power.

In Gathering Light, Olson is imagining women who are on a journey to step into their own power

Raven Spirit Dance. (CBC Arts)

Choreographer Michelle Olson is the artistic director of Raven Spirit Dance, where she creates work that is born from Indigenous worldviews. And it's from this history that she created Gathering Light, a performance that she first staged over 10 years ago.

As she describes it, it's about "a seed that is dreaming itself into being — that idea of a little seed cracking open and digging through the dirt and searching for the light, and finding the light and then finding full bloom." And you can see this metaphor playing out through the movements of the women who performed the piece in Toronto this year.

Watch the video:

Choreographer Michelle Olson on how her piece Gathering Light pays honour to the resilience of women and the transformations they go through. Filmmaker: Ulla Laidlaw 3:09

In this video made by filmmaker Ulla Laidlaw while Olson and her dancers were rehearsing in Toronto, Olson opens up about what drove her to create Gathering Light. A pregnancy loss and her resulting sense of community with other women inspired her to look at the places where women go through transformations that they don't share or aren't celebrated. Gathering Light has become, for her, a sort of ceremony that is both a celebration of women and an offering to them.

See Michelle Olson as part of Matriarchs Uprising at Scotiabank Dance Centre in Vancouver, June 20-22.

Raven Spirit Dance. (CBC Arts)
Michelle Olson. (CBC Arts)
Raven Spirit Dance. (CBC Arts)

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About the Author

Lise Hosein is a producer at CBC Arts. Before that, she was an arts reporter at JazzFM 91, an interview producer at George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight and a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. When she's not at her CBC Arts desk she's sometimes an instructor at OCADU and is always quite terrified of bees.