Both photographs are by Sian Richards. The first picture (left) features Malgorzata Nowacka, and the second picture (right) features Malgorzata Nowacka, Brendan Wyatt, and Lee Pham. Used with permission by Malgorzata Nowacka.
The following article was written by Adam Sidsworth for Dance Umbrella of Ontario, at http://www.danceumbrella.net/category/artist-profiles/
Malgorzata Nowacka is a Toronto-based dancer and choreographer. She is also the artistic director of The Chimera Project, www.chimeraproject.org, which she founded in 1999. The Chimera Project not only features Malgorzata’s contemporary-dance choreography but mentors and supports the next generation of dance artists through Company B and FRESH BLOOD. Most recently Malgorzata’s choreographed work Seance, which she describes as “dark” and “very athletic,” was performed at Ballet Jorgen Canada’s Ballet 360: An Evening of Contemporary Dance at the Betty Oliphant Theatre in Toronto on January 23 and 24, 2015. Adam Sidsworth talked with her about her life in dance and upcoming work. The following is a summary of their conversation.
When did you know that you wanted to be a dance artist?
I knew from an early age I wanted to be involved in the arts. My earliest memories involve drawing, dancing, and playing musical instruments. I was born into an artistic family in Warsaw, Poland—both my parents are visual artists—so I was immersed in art and visual images and pretty much grew up in art galleries. I studied at OCAD [Toronto’s visual arts university], and to my knowledge, no other OCAD grad has pursued a dance career. But when I was at OCAD, I also continued dance training with Debbie Wilson and apprenticed with her company, OMO Dance Co. [On her website, Malgorzata cites her artistic background for shaping the strong visual and cinematic style of her creations.]
What are some of your challenges as a dance artist?
Some aspects of business administration are hard for me, especially filing receipts or remembering to mail something. It can be difficult to wear many hats. [However, Malgorzata appears to relish her multiple roles of artistic director, choreographer, dancer, and businessperson.]
How would you compare the mindset of a choreographer to that of a dancer?
When I choreograph, I take in a lot of information watching and interpreting the dancers. I get so engrossed that at times I forget dancers’ names, even if I’ve known them for a long time. [Malgorzata laughs] When I dance, my only job is to do my best to articulate and manifest the other choreographer’s instructions, without having to worry about the choreographic outcome.
Given your career as a choreographer, can you easily switch roles and dance for other choreographers?
Absolutely! I love working with other choreographers, and I relish switching from being a decision maker (choreographer) to being an interpreter (dancer).
Do you consider yourself a teacher?
My job is to be an artist, and part of that is conveying information to other people. However, I don’t want to disrespect teachers by calling myself one too because that is a really hard job that takes an immense amount of dedication, and that is not my life’s mission. I love working as a guest artist in schools, though, and training young dancers in their craft through rehearsal, creation, and very vigorous gym workouts. Within the context of The Chimera Project’s Company B, we are currently working with 13 young dancers who are encouraged to take risks, embrace the unpredictable nature of performance, and assert their individuality as much as possible.
Do you teach classes that are open to the public?
I give an Open Sunday Company Class. [It’s at the Casa Loma Campus of Toronto’s George Brown College at 10 a.m.] It’s a contemporary ballet class that’s open to everybody, although I recommend at least an intermediate dance level to attend because it’s more intuitive than structured.
What can we expect from you in the 2015?
I’m developing a show called Black or Ange. [The show originated at Summerworks Dance, 2014. The Chimera Project website offers a video link that hints at the high energy and intensity of the piece.] I’m also producing new works for Company B.
We are also presenting FRESH BLOOD in the fall, a platform for emerging choreographers to showcase their works in a big venue. It’ll be at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre (formerly Enwave Theatre) [at Toronto’s Harbourfront] this fall.