I met with Francesca Frewer and Erika Mitsuhashi over coffee in Mt Pleasant. Both young dancers in the Vancouver community, the two are clearly close friends and begin our conversation by praising each other in absolutely charming mutual adoration. They tell me their collaboration has been such a pleasure that it’s just short of guilt inducing.
Erika holds a BFA from SFU in dance and is known in the community as an accomplished interpreter as well as a choreographer, which she sees as two connected aspects of her artistic practice. “I’ve worked collaboratively a lot over the past two years, so now my practice is largely coming to new collaborations with as much openness as possible and not crafting from a singular idea always but letting things have a wider umbrella,” she explains. “Trying to be a generous collaborator, that is my practice.”
Francesca recently moved back to Vancouver after a year at the prestigious Salzberg Experimental Academy of Dance. As a politically minded young artist, she is exploring how her interests in philosophy and critical theory can weave into her movement practice. Regarding her collaboration with Erika, she tells me, “Whats been working for me lately is to have all the research and context and conversation outside of the studio and when we get into the studio, to work really pragmatically with the form of dance and start with really simple qualities, parameters or images. The research and conversations we have outside are inescapable anyway, so that blurring or seeping in is a way that I really like crafting the work. Then we just have to do proper service to what is already there.”
Both women comment on feeling a pressure, in light of current events, to make work that is overtly political, however, feeling that their voices are not the ones to comment these issues, they have chosen instead to focus on more broadly political ideas, like the fallibility of the self. A personal interest they have chosen to work on is striving to bring as much of themselves into the work as possible, focusing on ideas of openness and vulnerability. Francesca describes the process of finding authenticity in the act of performing a “conundrum that is a pleasure to deal with”.
They also express a desire to show respect for their audience and want their new work to be “an offering”. Movement presented with sincerity that is meant to be enjoyed.
Francesca Frewer and Erika Mitsuhashi premiere their new duet at Shooting Gallery Performance Series #3, March 31st and April 1st.