“The dance is happening inside you all the time” - Gerry Morita
I met Gerry Morita, the Artistic Director of Mile Zero Dance Society, at “Spazio Performativo” which their website calls, “A small venue/workspace, a hub of accessible, integrated performance creation, training, and presentation.” It is located here in McCauley.
I asked Gerry why Mile Zero chose to open the space in McCauley. She said, “I like the street because it’s basically like Sesame Street. It’s colourful, it’s a very active street, there’s a lot of foot traffic, and people of all kinds and ages. It’s a very dynamic mixed environment. Artists are usually stuffed in back rooms or attics or basements. We really took the risk to develop a studio in a storefront. Accessibility was a huge factor in that because we had been up two levels of stairs before, and we didn’t know who wasn’t coming to things. We are able to reach a broader range of humans by being on this street, visible, and by being easy to access.”
Gerry got involved with Heart of the City Festival several years ago. “We do these mass pieces with groups of people in costume. One year, Tony Olivares did a piece with a Butoh* dance. They danced with large pieces of white cloth, everybody had white paint all over them; it was a very sculptural piece. They crossed the road with cars honking at them. This year, we did magpies as a group piece, but because of COVID-19 we transferred it to a film.” You can watch the film Magpies for a limited time at heartcityfest.com.
I asked Gerry to tell us a little about her background with dance. “My first formal training was Highland dancing and so I just jumped for hours. I was a jumpy kid. I was interested in the physical dynamic aspect of dance rather than the formalized shapes and perfection. There is misogyny in western dance. It’s a very problematic medium. I’ve just always been trying to break that down, trying to introduce bodies and people that you would never expect as a way to show the dancing message, because everybody dances and it doesn’t have to be a presentational thing. I think it should be something that people do, and it’s more important to do it than it is to watch it. Dance has given me tools to be aware of the moment and to allow my body to do what it needs to do in a very simple, basic way.”
I was interested to know what Gerry thinks is the message of dance. “Life. Or death,” Gerry replied. “It’s something that you can only do through your physical body when you are alive. I find dance to be so positive because as long as people can breathe, they can feel the dance happening inside of them. It’s like the dance is happening inside you all the time. How you choose to express it is going to change throughout your entire life. Through times of sickness or health or ecstasy, your dance is always going to change. But your body as a vessel has a way of remembering everything you have ever experienced and has a way of sharing that with other people. I find that very magical.”
If you want to get involved with Mile Zero Dance Society, check out a list of events and classes on their website: milezerodance.com.
*A form of Japanese dance theatre.
Corine Demas serves as volunteer Vice President and Spoken Word Director of the Heart of the City Festival Society of Edmonton. Corine is passionate about poetry, storytelling, and her city, Edmonton.