RQD Co-presidents’ Message
By Jamie Wright
For this first text, I was going to talk about one particular topic, but was getting a bit ahead of myself. So, I’ll take a few steps back, and start by talking about Valérie Plante instead, about how inspiring it is to have a 43 year-old woman at the helm of Montréal. She is proof that we can make a difference with our votes, and I wish her the best of luck in her new position.
We are in a time of great change; shifts in societal mores are forcing us to examine our behaviours under a microscope. There is less and less room for ignorance as an excuse. The status quo is not so status quo anymore.
The practice of professional dance is not immune to these shifts. The outdated culture of silence is being broken, if slowly. But we need to keep talking, openly, with courage and a healthy dose of self-awareness. All this in order to have safe work spaces, ones where personal and professional boundaries are always respected.
As co-president of the RQD, I am committed to hearing all issues/ideas brought to my attention, and will transmit them to the Board of Directors. In the meantime, the following topics are on my hit list: ongoing talks with UDA, workplace harassment/power abuse, financial precarity (a major stress factor which can lead to unproductive, sometimes aggressive communications), cultural appropriation vs. cultural appreciation, expanding membership to better reflect changing professional practices, and the list goes on.
I may not be running a major metropolis, but I am a 42 year-old woman at the co-helm of the Board of Directors of the RQD. I head into this adventure with much enthusiasm. Our organization is only as strong as its members and constantly accountable to its board. This is the transparent process of good governance. Good governance also means being open to criticism, hearing all sides of an issue, and then acting accordingly.
Let’s do this.
Openness and Collegiality
By Lük Fleury
Dance entered my life by dint of a unique set of circumstances dating back to September 1982, when my Secondary 1 French teacher – whose husband was the director of a Québec folk dance troupe – put the following question to her students: “You’ll always find girls who’re interested in dancing, but because boys seldom share that interest, may I ask who, among the boys here, is interested in giving it a whirl?” The following Friday, the Loup-Garous held a rehearsal, and that’s when my love affair with the jig first began. It was as if I’d been given permission to make noise for the first time, and while I was timid initially, this introduction to the jig was nothing short of a revelation to me, a magical moment!
I’ve spent the better part of 20 years working on developing the contemporary jig movement, alongside some 20 choreographers, to ensure that this form of dance – the poetry of the feet – can thrive in the 21st century. Perseverance and collegiality are at the heart of my efforts to promote dance in Québec society. My involvement on the RQD board of directors in the past two years, and now as RQD co-president, has served to further this desire to highlight this art that inhabits me viscerally.
In my view, this new co-presidency with Jamie Wright bodes well for the future of the RQD, as it reflects a sense of diversity, both linguistic and artistic. As many have said, it’s a statement in favour of openness and inclusion. What’s more, this co-presidency is closely aligned with the spirit of collaboration and collegial management that drives RQD Executive Director Fabienne Cabado.
This is a golden opportunity to build bridges, spark debate, and shine a spotlight on some grey areas: Bridges with our cultural diversity, different dance practices, and the anglophone community. A debate around issues of public financing, successions, sharing richness and resources, attendance at shows, careers in the arts, unionization, and the just recognition of managers. And a spotlight on issues of cultural appropriation, racism and harassment. We must renew our efforts to mobilize the dance community and forge new, more just and respectful ties that are in synch with the solidarity embodied by our collective love for this art form.
Hope lies in this spirit of mutual help and collegiality, manifest with evermore vigour and eloquence.