The Stealers…

The Stealers…

Another great shot from the final performance of The Art of Stealing.
Dancers L to R: Heather Laura Gray, Manuel Sorge, Maiko Miyauchi, Amber Funk Barton, Lexi Vajda, Kevin Tookey.  Photo by Chris Barton.

Another great shot from the final performance of The Art of Stealing.

Dancers L to R: Heather Laura Gray, Manuel Sorge, Maiko Miyauchi, Amber Funk Barton, Lexi Vajda, Kevin Tookey.  Photo by Chris Barton.

Final Thoughts

And just like that…it’s all over.

A week has already passed.  I am already thrown back into rehearsals as a dancer for another company and as I do I’m trying to sift through the paperwork to finalize the remaining expenses of the premiere.  You know, the fun stuff…

Usually after a show I’ve created I get a wicked case of post show blues.  Besides being physically exhausted there is also the mental and emotional fatigue that makes me melodramatically raise my head to the sky and ask no one in particular, “Now what?”  And while I do feel as if I’ve just literally and metaphorically run a marathon…I feel very much at peace.


I know it’s not always like that.  Not every production you create results in satisfaction.  There is always something that can be improved or further developed.  Always.  But for my own personal and artistic reasons I am happy to report that I am quite content with how The Art of Stealing manifested itself.  It’s like I’ve had a movie in my brain these past couple of years and it’s like I was a mad scientist and gave life to Frankenstein!

I am left thinking about all the people and artists who went far beyond their job descriptions for this project.  Without the generosity of these amazing people I don’t know if I would have been able to realize The Art of Stealing the way I intended.  The last month, the past three years have been an absolute gift.  I have been surrounded constantly by generous people.  I have been inspired by people and circumstances that exceeded my expectations.  I look at the very first post of this blog, scroll though to this one and am amazed by the journey I’ve been on.


One of the biggest concepts I have taken away from this is learning to trust myself, my dancers and my collaborators.  Another is that you don’t have to have all the answers.  No one does.  But you have to be willing to work.  Through work and discovery you find the answers.  Surround yourself with the people who want to find those answers with you and you’ll be just fine.  For me, it helps if I think that each work I create is just a chapter in the novel of a body of work.  Not all chapters are created equal, but I hope to have a great book when I put it all together.  Thinking like this helps to take a bit of the pressure off.  There is always the pressure to make a great show but the bottom line is that I have to be able to stand behind what I’ve made.  I know that’s easy to say but I’m working on it.

So once again, thank you to everyone who made The Art of Stealing possible.  Thank you for working with me and thank you for coming to the show. 

All photos in this post by Chris Barton.


We made it! Post show Saturday night shenanigans…

We made it! Post show Saturday night shenanigans…

The Art of Stealing premieres next week!

Here’s our trailer, featuring stunning direction by Jenn Strom, camera work by Mike McKinlay, music by Marc Stewart and costumes by lululemon lab!

Here’s a little behind-the-scenes look at The Art of Stealing and our unique collaboration with lululemon lab, shot, edited and directed by the wickedly talented Jenn Strom!

Countdown: Week 3!

We’ve officially reached the halfway point!

There’s still a quite a bit of work to do but reaching the halfway point of any production is an excellent time to sit back for a second and look around at where you are and what’s happening. 

The timing of the official launch of the response. x lululemon lab capsule collection couldn’t have come at a better time.  Our kind and generous hosts at lululemon lab held a launch party for us this week and it was a great way for the company to celebrate and our current state in the process!   

Once again I am completely floored by the talent and generous contribution of so many people that worked to make this happen.  If you swing by the lab at Cambie and Broadway you will see an amazing art installation in the display window that Jenn was instrumental in designing.  Please check it out!  I painted crates matte black with Chole and am forever grateful for Keith’s skills to move, spray paint and bolt together televisions.  I was in awe watching Neil and Mara hand paint images of us and again reminded of the incredible talent of Mike Mckinlay as I watched the playback of the video Jenn had edited from our shoot in March.  Then there’s the beautiful photography captured by Chris Barton.  And of course, Jean was there to guide and lead us all.  I have the utmost respect for Jean Okada who is pretty much one of the coolest people I have ever had the opportunity to work with as well as the reason our capsule line exists.

We’re doing well.  Structurally I’m feeling good about the show.  I can’t believe how fast it’s moving now and next week we transition into the theatre.  Missing pieces are now materializing and every day questions are answered and more questions are created.  But the best part of it is that we are all having a great time and enjoying the journey.  We are starting to run the show each rehearsal and each time we do we all feel like the movement and the work is clearer and refining itself.  The challenge is not peaking too soon.  We need to rehearse the movement but we don’t want it to look too clean as if we are on auto pilot.  And at the same time we need to condition ourselves and ensure we can physically navigate ourselves and sustain our energy through the duration of the production. 

It’s also the beginning of juggling media requests and interviews while still in rehearsals.  I’m not going to lie-it can be very exciting.  And because I am so proud of the people that I get to work with this necessity makes it easy for me to talk about the show.  I want people to see the hard work that my dancers and collaborators have put into this show and I want to share our experience with our community.  I do get nervous about how I express myself and my work in interviews but I think that’s only natural. 

This week in particular I have thought a lot about support systems.  Of course we have our collaborators, professional and peers who we should never take for granted but our friends and family…they are the true heroes that help us believe it is possible to do what we do.  Without them, we are nothing.  And if our collaborators are also our friends?  Then you are extremely lucky and have much to be thankful for. 

Next week will be another exciting leap towards realizing The Art of Stealing.  Theatre set up begins this weekend!

More to come…

Countdown: Week 2!

(still from video footage taken by Chad Galloway)

By now the dancers and I have fallen into a comfortable and productive working rhythm for rehearsals in the studio.  We arrive, I put on some tunes (very important as opposed to warming up to the hum of fluorescent lights), tiger balm and muscle rub is administered and we begin to “roll out” and/or warm up.  If we are not careful this can extend beyond our allotted preparation time as we all enjoy each others company and tend to exchange entertaining anecdotes!

But then we get to work.  This past week has consisted of me working furiously to complete a rough first draft of the production as a whole so that Mike and Marc and a strong reference point as to what is going to be performed.  There is still music to be composed and a lighting concept to realize and since Mike doesn’t arrive in Vancouver until much later this month it’s important that all the production collaborators are aware of what stage I’m at with the dancers.  The invention of Skype is also quite helpful.  I try not to let this rush my creative decisions before I’m ready but at the same time these artists need answers so that they can do their job.  It’s a fine balancing act.  What’s lovely is when you have multiple opportunities to work with the same collaborators as I have with Mike and Marc.  We come to the table with an informed and familiar understanding of how we work together and can dive headfirst into the project.  Of course every project is different even with the same collaborators but there is an understanding between the parties that is forged due to trust and some unnamed entity that makes it possible both parties to compatibly work together.   

To quote Jonathan Burrows: “The moment of collaboration is the moment you ask the right person to work with you and then trust them completely.”

Collaboration comes in many forms and there are several different relationships within a production that facilitate this notion.  the response. is extremely privileged to be company-in-residence at The Landing Dance Centre and we have been rehearsing at The Landing since the project’s inception in 2012.  The generosity and support that the company and I have experienced with The Landing Dance Centre and its Executive Director Brenna McLaud is one of the many relationships that has played a HUGE part in making The Art of Stealing a reality.  The Landing Dance Centre has become a home base for myself and the company and I am continually inspired by Brenna’s work ethic and the standards she instills in her students.

(photo by Yvonne Chew)

And then there is the lovely Jenn Strom who is without a doubt my partner in artistic crime.  This week and next is a big push for us as we get ready for the lululemon lab capsule launch next week (!).  Jenn is now editing like crazy, immersed in hours and hours of footage from over the past several months as she assembles what I have been calling a “mini doc” of the response. x lululemon lab.  And there is also the trailer.  And a window installation.  And projections.  Aaand more documenting to plan.  This woman is incredible to say the least.  This isn’t the first time I have sung Jenn’s praises but really…they need to be shouted from a mountain top.    

Week 3 the activity meter cranks up.  If you want to keep up with us beyond these blog posts like us on Facebook and/or follow us on Twitter.  And if that’s not enough you can email us at to join our mailing list.

More goodies to come y’all…

The Arsenal Project is the official blog of the response. (AKA The Response Dance Society), a Vancouver based contemporary dance company led by artistic director, Amber Funk Barton. This blog is an online record to share its discoveries, document the company's current creative process and engage with its community.

For more info on the response. please visit:

the response. gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the British Columbia Arts Council, the City of Vancouver and the Canada Council for the Arts.

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