Vancouver’s Rebecca Margolick dances to New York and back

Vancouver’s Rebecca Margolick returns with Big Apple’s Sidra Bell, plus other work
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It’s not an exaggeration to say Vancouver’s Rebecca Margolick was born to dance. Her mother, Mary Louise Albert, performed for the likes of the Judith Marcuse and Karen Jamieson dance companies, and even as a baby, Margolick often found herself in a studio surrounded by the art form.

“I was there in a bucket seat while my mom taught,” the rising young talent says from the Big Apple. The raven-haired Arts Umbrella grad has been dancing for Sidra Bell Dance New York there for the past year.

These days, the 21-year-old Margolick finds herself even more at the centre of it all—and on the cutting edge of contemporary dance—in a company celebrated for its surreal scenarios and risk-taking intensity. But ballet was her first love when she started out, and she eventually studied at Arts Umbrella under Artemis Gordon. It wasn’t until she graduated from high school and went on to New York University that she really started to delve into contemporary work. While there, she discovered Bell.

“We definitely connected right away. Sidra really celebrates individuals,” Margolick explains. “All of her dancers are very different. She finds that individuality and instead of suppressing it, she really allows us to be ourselves.”

The troupe is set to bring its strange and theatrical piece Nudity to the Chutzpah Festival, where, perhaps not so coincidentally, Margolick’s mother is now managing director. And it’s a work that, true to its name, shows how intimately Bell works with her small corps of five dancers. Margolick reveals the intriguing fact that in the rehearsal process, each performer was asked to share a personal secret, and then to relive that secret on-stage.

“We all speak on-stage in this piece, and I think she made me do that because I don’t like it,” Margolick says with a laugh. “I’ve never done a piece that is this physically exhausting, emotionally exhausting, and psychologically exhausting. So often we’re joking around before the show to get out that stress because it’s so intense. We don’t leave the stage for 40 minutes, and we go between extreme emotional states in a very short amount of time. That’s what makes it so provocative for the audience—in a good way.”

Margolick will also perform the work of another choreographer later in the Chutzpah fest: she’ll dance with local artist James Gnam in Zion, by fast-rising Israeli-American choreographer–Renaissance man Barak Marshall, who’s known for his sharp wit and lightning speed. “It’s really fun,” says Margolick, who has studied at Israel’s influential Batsheva Dance, where Marshall was a choreographer. “We start on a bench and this kind of cat-and-mouse game starts between two lovers. It’s so fast and intricate, and it’s probably one of the hardest pieces I’ve done as far as detail.”

As if that’s not enough, within the same few weeks Margolick will also appear in new work from Donald Sales’s Project 20 company at Dances for a Small Stage. It’s a busy homecoming packed with dance, but don’t think Margolick is ready to move back to B.C. anytime soon: “Of course it’s wild and really noisy and you can’t relax in this city,” she says of New York, “but now it feels like home.” 

Sidra Bell Dance New York joins LEVYdance from Saturday to Monday (February 16 to 18) and Zion shows with Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company from next Wednesday (February 20) to February 24 at the Norman and Annette Rothstein Theatre, as part of the Chutzpah Festival.

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