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Grief and Performance: A conversation with Lori Clarke, Guy Cools, and Leah Lewis

19 February 2022, online

  • Online discussion with among others Guy Cools, author of Performing Mourning
  • Join three authors who have written extensively about grief and performance

What: Online conversation 
With: Lori Clarke, Guy Cools, Leah Lewis and moderator Lois Brown
When: 19 February 2022, 14:00 NST / 18:30 CET
Where: Zoom 
Presented by:
Neighbourhood Dance Works
Language: English
Admission: Free - register here

The recording of this event can be viewed here.

On February 19th at 2pm NT, Lori Clarke, Guy Cools, Leah Lewis and moderator Lois Brown come together on zoom to talk about grief and performance. All three have written extensively on this topic and they have created or dramaturged performances around their experiences of grief. It is tempting to say this is especially pertinent conversation during Covid, but grief and performance, laments, rituals and so forth, are a profound part of the human experience. We will start with some questions/topics for Lori, Guy and Leah, and leave some time to hear from other artists or attendees.

Lori Clarke is an artist-researcher and somatic psychotherapist. Lori often collaborates with dance and theatre artists, musicians, filmmakers, and writers, integrating somatic modes of inquiry and companionship in creative process. Lori’s work has touched the theme of grief since her early dance and performance work in the late 1980s and in the early years of this century her performance and installation work explored the meaning of breath in relation to mortality, respiration, the lungs, loss, and sorrow (Breathe, 2000). Lori has supported mothers and new babies being born, accompanied palliative care patients in dying, officiated at funerals, and completed doctoral research relating to grief and embodied responses to climate change. Lori’s healing work, research, and artistic practice all begin with listening, and trusting body wisdom. Lori runs Resonance Somatic Therapy and Consulting in St. John's and is co-founder of Perfomative/ance Inquiry Group (PIG). In 2019 Lori’s son, Cyrus, died by homicide. Since that time she has been experiencing her own personal grief journey that has included creating personal and community ritual out of inner and outer frozen landscapes.

Guy Cools is a Belgian dance dramaturge, currently living in Vienna. He has worked as a dance critic and dance curator and worked as a production dramaturg, with amongst others Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui (BE) and Akram Khan (UK). As a dramaturgical mentor, he has been mentoring the Biennale Dance College in Venice and the Atlas program of Impulstanz in Vienna. He teaches at different universities and arts colleges in Europe and Canada. His most recent publications include The Ethics of Art (co-edited, 2014); In-between Dance Cultures (2015); Imaginative Bodies (2016); The Choreopolitics of Alain Platel (co-edited, 2019) and Performing Mourning. Laments in Contemporary Art (2021).

Leah Lewis is a creative arts therapist, counsellor, and faculty member at MUN's Faculty of Education's masters program in counselling psychology. A long time actor in both theatre and film, Leah combines her arts based approach in her MUN research. Her recent piece, The Dialysis Project (RCAT, May 2021) was presented as a multi-media research performance of her lived experience as a home dialysis patient. Leah's interests in performance based research applies to critical theories of grief and illness, exploring intersecting identities and how these are shaped by lived experience. Her dissertation, Good Grief? Meaning Making Through an End Stage Renal Disease Illness Narrative includes a film output that explores performance of illness narrative and the meaning that is derived. Leah lives in St. John's, Newfoundland.

Lois Brown was born in Corner Brook, Newfoundland. Educated in Drama at the University of Alberta, she returned to St. John’s, where she established a cross-disciplinary artistic practice. She is an original member and past Curator of Neighbourhood Dance Works. In 2005, The Canada Council for the Arts awarded her The Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award for outstanding achievement in theatre by a mid-career Canadian artist. In 2010 to 2013, Lois was Artist and Dramaturg in Residence at Playwrights’ Workshop Montréal. In 2014, she received the YWCA’s Women of Distinction Goodwill award for her contribution to the arts locally and nationally. In 2019, she was also inducted into Dance Collection Danse’s Encore! Dance Hall of Fame. Her current artistic interests are dramaturgy, improvisation and democratization, island studies and disability arts aesthetics and processes. Among her current projects are performance works “Cold Water” with James O’Callaghan and “Invisible Me” with Emma Tibaldo