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Behind the creation of “Bear”

January 11, 2024 Photo by Omer Yukseker

A conversation with choreographer and performer Allison Cummings.

Bear calls upon imagery of constellations and stars. Can you speak to your exploration of this concept?

About five years ago, I found a post-it note in one of my late mother’s old books. Written on it in her handwriting was the single word “Galaxies”. In that moment I found myself really connected to her and started thinking about my own motherhood which has been a journey without her as she died when I was 3 months pregnant. I found myself thinking about the rhythms of the universe and how it correlated with the rhythm of a single life, the measured cycle amidst the chaos.

You mentioned you’ve been working on this piece for the last 4 years. How has the process of creating a solo shifted for you over that time?

So much has happened since I first started creating it. It really was an exploration into motherhood at first. And then in 2019, I was diagnosed with Cancer and Covid hit smack dab in the middle of treatment. We kept the original images and went deeper into them. The work became bigger. There was more territory to cover. After that it had the added reality that I had to face my mortality head on in a pandemic, alone with a small child. My connection to the imagery of constellations has deepened as the concept has expanded and as the new layers that life dealt me were considered.

Bear is a very personal exploration for you, how does the artist Allison regulate and protect the human Allison’s energy when working with such personal material?

Well, I try to keep a sense of humour. And, I allow myself to become emotional and not oppress the emotions. 

I try to remember that there will be people who don’t know me or my past and that it’s important if I am choosing to share this, that I do with respect to them. I guess that’s the artist me.

I listen to a lot of rock and roll. That’s the human me.

How have your collaborators – Vivine and Val – informed your creation process?

Oh my god…!!! I am so lucky to have these amazing women working with me on this piece. Sharon Di Genova too.

I like to create an atmosphere where every collaborator regardless of their role is invited to discuss content, delivery, thoughts, ideas. We’ve had so many discussions about enormous scary concepts. They push me to try harder and go further.

And they’ve all been there when I went a little too far. Couldn’t have made such a personal piece without their input and guidance.

Choreographed and performed by Allison Cummings
January 17 – 20, 2024
8PM @ The Citadel

16mm Fragments
Video Installation by Sonya Stefan
Jean Soper Studio
Doors open nightly @ 7PM

Bear is accompanied by a video installation by filmmaker/dance artist Sonya Stefan. Embracing the 16mm film aesthetic, the installation will showcase excerpts from diverse film experiments, featuring artists Elena Kargin, Sylvain Poirier, and Stefan’s daughter, Charlotte.