Fionna Tyler Gomien

Fionna Tyler Gomien

Performance project dances with identity

Prox:Imity Re:Mix runs at the Port Theatre.

When Nanaimo-area high school student Fionna Gomien walked into Kirkwood Academy more than two weeks ago, she was surrounded by new faces.

“I was really uncomfortable,” Gomien said.

Two weeks later, Gomien has not only learned new things, but also become friends with many of those unfamiliar faces.

“I love working with everyone here,” Gomien said. “Everyone here is so open and accepting.”

Gomien is just one of a handful of high school students who have been participating in a two-week dance performance workshop project called Prox:imity Re:Mix.

Conceived by Vancouver-based contemporary dance company MachineNoisy, Prox:imity Re:Mix features nine queer and two non-queer performers, who are between the ages of 14-18. The production, which is co-directed by Delia Brett, Daelik Hackenbrook and Sammy Chien, will run at the Port Theatre on Saturday (July 11) at 6 p.m. and on Sunday (July 12) at 2 p.m.

“It is a really fun show,” Brett said. “There is some dance movement based on some of the contact dance movement principals that we’ve been doing with the youth over the last two weeks.”

The show is one of a handful of performances taking place at the Infringing Dance Festival, which runs from Thursday to Sunday (July 9-12) at the Port Theatre, Maffeo Sutton Park and the Vancouver Island Conference Centre.

“I am excited to get this [Prox:imity Re:Mix] out here,” performer Lily Morice said. “We are showing who we are to everyone. We are showing that we are queer and we are performers. It is going to be really fun.”

According to Brett, the two-week dance workshop and performance explores LGBTQ identity and expression – one of the main reasons why many students signed up.

“There isn’t a lot of stuff like this in Nanaimo,” Morice said. “It is all about identity and queerness and there isn’t much like that here.”

Prox:imity Re:Mix will incorporate traditional dance mediums with new technologies such as Xbox Kinect.

“There are is a lot of really cutting edge new media technology being utilized during the show with things like Xbox Kinect, [Nintendo] Wii controllers and iPads,” Brett said. “They will see a whole gamut of things that they might not have ever seen before in terms of new media.”

Performer Ben Lange says he and his classmates have learned more than just a few dance moves.

“We have learned about ourselves and how to interact with each other and how to pay attention to each other’s movements and how to pay attention to our surroundings,” Lange said.

Regardless of how the Prox:imity Re:Mix performances go, many of the students say the experience has helped them built confidence, trust and forge new relationships.

“I have made more friends here than I have throughout an entire school year,” Gomien said. “I feel like I can trust everyone here.”

Prox:imity Re:Mix runs at the Port Theatre on Saturday at 6 p.m. and again on Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance at www.porttheatre.com or $20 at the door.

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