There was no fancy footwork required last week when Champlain College signed a formal declaration of friendship with Market Hall’s resident performing company, Public Energy.
The Memorandum of Agreement was signed on November 8 during a special lun- cheon at Champlain College. With members of the Trent Dance Team, Champlain Alumni, Trent students, and Public Energy members in attendance, Public Energy pro- vided a sneak peak at one of its upcoming shows, Road Trip. The two dancers, Su- sie Burpee and Linnea Swan, who created Road Trip, performed a snippet of the piece in the intimate space of the Champlain Liv- ing Learning Commons and had everyone holding their breath in anticipation of what would come next.
Sneak previews of performances is just one example of the benefits Trent students are gaining from the partnership with Pub- lic Energy. The performance company will also share information in advance about upcoming shows, coordinate events and classes at Champlain and other spaces at Trent, foster interaction between Trent students and performance artists, and will encourage Trent students to perform in the artist showcase Emergency, which is taking place at Market Hall in May.
Champlain’s role in the agreement will be to host Public Energy’s artists in resi- dence, engage artists with students, make announcements of Public Energy performances through Champlain networks, and to encourage students to be involved with Emergency. Essentially, Champlain will continue to nurture a bond between Trent and Public Energy that already has a history of artist and student overlap.
The founder and artistic producer of Pub- lic Energy, Bill Kimball, is a Trent alumnus who received the Alumni Spirit of Trent Award at this year’s Trent Alumni Dinner. Kimball spent his first year as a Trent stu- dent in residence at Champlain College and was involved in theatre programs at Trent throughout his student career. He founded the Peterborough New Dance company in 1994, which evolved into Public Energy.
Since its inception, Public Energy has choreographed relationships between local and national performance artists. The company is in its 19th season and will be presenting works from dance companies, independent choreographers, and local dancers. Originally motivated by contemporary dance, the company has grown to include theatre, performance, and interdisciplinary pieces. There has been an exchange of talks, workshops, and classes between Champlain College and Public Energy, but the memorandum that was signed last week was the first formal connection. The Head of Champlain, Dr. Mike Allcott, wanted to make existing connections between Trent and Public Energy more visible.
In what was an exciting move for Cham- plain College, Dr. Allcott approached Kimball and initiated the formal partnership. He recognized the investment of Kimball’s life in the Peterborough community and wanted to give Trent students a chance to be involved in that creative innovation.
The Head of Champlain himself has al- ways had an interest in dance and perfor- mance art. When he was a faculty member at the University of Utah, he witnessed world-class performances from the University’s Modern Dance Program and from artists in Salt Lake City.
When Dr. Allcott made the career switch to Trent University, he was surprised to find that the small city of Peterborough put out the same caliber of dance performances. It’s not what one would expect from a small city, and Dr. Allcott wanted to inform students of the opportunities that exist for them within the Peterborough community.
Peterborough can certainly boast a large number of talented artists, but the city also hosts world-class artists from all over Can- ada. The next artist in residence with Public Energy, Emmanuel Jouthe, hails from Montreal. He will be visiting Peterborough on November 26 to give a workshop as an introduction to the projects he will be creating and offering during his residency. Champlain will be providing his accommo- dations while he is Public Energy’s artist in residence and will be helping to engage the students in Jouthe’s projects. Jouthe will be creating a piece involving dancers who are members of the Peterborough community and welcomes students to be part of this collaboration.
In addition to the responsibilities out- lined in the Memorandum of Agreement, Champlain and Public Energy will be add- ing formalities as projects arise. The agree- ment will be in effect for one year, with an option for renewal.
Much like a pair of dancers, Champlain College and Public Energy will have the po- tential to become seasoned partners as they put the details of their collaboration into action during this year. We can only hold our breath and wait to see what comes next.