Creative Connected Calgary Sasha Ivanochko | Photo: Courtesy of Sasha Ivanochko September 10, 2020 Sasha Ivanochko Month of the Artist celebrates the valuable contributions artists make to Alberta Sasha Ivanochko Sasha Ivanochko is a choreographer, pedagogue, and artistic director of Ivanochko in company, an ad hoc company she founded in 2005. Since 2018, she’s been at the helm of Dancers’ Studio West, a support service organization dedicated to the evolution of contemporary dance in Alberta. She’s been commissioned by Toronto Dance Theatre, Via Salzburg, Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers, and has toured internationally to the International Theatre Festival of Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic), Dance Meeting (Japan), The 2007 IETM (Montréal), and the visiBIe Arts Festival (Los Angeles). Canadian presentations include The Canada Dance Festival, Fluid Fest, Dancing on the Edge, New Dance Horizons, The Music Gallery, Dancemakers, DanceWorks, The Festival of New Dance, Mile Zero Dance, Tangente, and La petite scène, among others. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook, and learn more at sashaivanochko.xyz and videocan.ca. How do you describe yourself as an artist? I’m a choreographer and my work is frequently in direct dialogue with the greater feminist discourse. My creative practice is a wrestling of culture within the body, and, as I grew up performing, first as a competitive gymnast and then as a dancer, my work is almost always articulated through the lens of the hyper-stylized body of the female dancer. I work with dancers to deconstruct dance, to question performance itself, and to call attention to the ways women and other minorities are situated and perceived in the performance arena. As my own body is in constant dialogue with the world through my lived experience, my studio research inevitably ends up coalescing around themes that link back to concepts I am exploring in my intellectual life; my choreography becomes the process of my thinking. I consider my practice interdisciplinary in that I believe dance is a visual art form, and my pieces often include texts and musical scores that I’ve written. What does living a creative life mean to you? On a daily basis, to be reflective, responsible and radically realistic. What do you love about Calgary and what is one place you go to find inspiration in Calgary? The land and the water. I spend a lot of time walking the Bow River paths with my dog Lucie. I tend towards fieriness and muscularity, and being near the water supports fluidity. For inspiration, I always look to the visual arts. The Esker Foundation is my favourite gallery in Calgary. If you could do one thing this year to make Calgary a better place to live, what would it be? I would instate universal basic income. The idea that human value revolves around productivity is just wrong. Everyone deserves a life of dignity with their basic needs met. What piece of advice would you give to an emerging artist? Your voice is important. You are not the future; you are the now. The choices you make inform your path, and they also effect the field. Figure out what your values are and design your career around them. For dancers, become a member of The Dancer Transition Resource Centre (DTRC) and your local chapter of the Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists (CADA). I know the cost of the membership fees may feel heavy in the moment, but CADA’s benefits will pay off immediately in the year, and DTRC will provide you with all kinds of support and funding through out your career. What are you currently working on? A half-length, mixed-media piece called The March. The movement vocabulary elaborates upon the physical activity of “marching.” It references and honours the ongoing history of diverse women congregating in non-violent political activism to dismantle systems of oppression. I’m so, so blessed with my team of outstanding collaborators: performers Pamela Tzeng, Kaili Che, Aimee Rushton, Katherine Semchuk, and Heather Thomson, filmmakers Jacob Neidzwiecki and Linnea Swan, and lighting designer Steve Isom! About Alberta’s Month of the Artist September is the Month of the Artist in Alberta, an annual celebration of artists and the value they bring to the province, both socially and economically. Dedicated by the Government of Alberta, the Month of the Artist is a way to say thank you for making the province a better place to live. Calgary Arts Development is pleased to share the stories of artists who choose to live and work in Calgary. Have a story to share? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.