Twenty years after ending her career as a dancer, Mary-Louise Albert still retains her love of this art form.
So much so that she’s planning a comeback at the age of 65 with the help of one of her former choreographers, Serge Bennathan.
Albert, former long-time artistic managing director of the Chutzpah! Festival (that was her second career), is reviving three solos from her career for the Scotiabank Dance Centre’s first live performance since the pandemic was declared.
They will be performed by contemporary dancers Vanessa Goodman, Rebecca Margolick, and Livona Ellis, with the help of the original choreographers.
Goodman will dance Tedd Robinson’s (oLOS), Margolick will perform Allen Kaeja’s Trace Elements, and Ellis will offer her interpretation of Peter Bingham’s Woman Walking (away).
“They’re lovely works,” Albert tells the Straight from her home in Sointula. “And I thought, ‘What a great project, to remount these on the next generation with three lovely, really talented, strong women who are all mid-career dancers.’ ”
It was only after the show was well underway that Albert decided to also return to the stage as part of the Solo Dances/Past Into Present program. She will perform phase one of Empreintes, a new solo work commissioned from Bennathan.
When asked why dance speaks to her so deeply, Albert pauses momentarily.
“It’s hard to explain,” she says. “It’s the connection of the physical and emotional that just fits together—and comes together—that I experience as a dancer.”
Because she avoided injury when young, she kept performing until the age of 45.
“You have to enjoy the process,” Albert adds, “because…when you look at your whole career, you’re not on the stage all the time—not at all. You’re mainly in the studio, and you’re mainly exploring a process that connects with you.”
So was she able to rekindle that connection in 2020? Absolutely.
“It certainly has gotten me into a really good place to continue with this senior-citizen journey—emotionally, physically,” Albert says. “And it’s nice to know that you’ll still take some chances, right?”
Although dance is obviously important to her, the most profound aspect of her life has come from being a mother.
It turns out that one of the dancers in the show, Margolick, is her daughter. Albert has known Ellis, a long-time friend of Margolick, since she was a nine-year-old student at Arts Umbrella. And Albert has put on shows featuring Goodman on several occasions.
“All three of them have this very grounded generosity,” Albert says. “They’re really intelligent women.…And their support and encouragement of me being part of this presentation has been just beautiful.”