Published on November 5th, 2011 | by Biz Books0
The Biz Interview: Andrea Loewen of “Les Petites Taquines”
Andrea Loewen is one of the performers in the new production, When I Was, Qui Je Suis. She spoke with us about how the contemporary dance work was created and the background of Les Petites Taquines.
What inspired you to form Les Petites Taquines?
Les Petites Taquines started a few years back when a friend of ours was putting on a fundraiser cabaret and looking for acts. I didn’t really know Jackie Faulkner and Linsy Rotar at that time, but we all wanted to do a dance in the show, and the organizers teamed us up. We needed to think of a name so that we could be properly introduced at the cabaret, and since we were doing a goofy/flirty version of Wilkommen from Cabaret, we picked Les Petites Taquines (French for ‘the little flirts’). We enjoyed dancing together so much that we just started getting together once a week to work on random pieces together. Then a while later I was putting on a show with another friend (Francine Dulong) and we got Les Petites Taquines on board to perform. That’s when we decided to stop messing around and create our own show together. Francine officially joined the company, and we’ve spent the past year since then creating this show as well as performing in another fundraising cabaret.
Pacific Theatre is known primarily for its theatre productions. How does the overall creative approach change when you’re preparing a dance production vs. a traditional stage production?
Well, we aren’t really doing this show as Pacific Theatre, but are lucky enough to use the theatre as a venue (it might help that I’ve been working at Pacific Theatre as publicist for the past few years!) The big difference for me between creating this dance show and other theatre projects, however, is the process. Generally with theatre you start with a script, gather a cast, and work to bring that story to life. The main focus of the process is to tell a pre-existing story. This show, on the other hand, began with a couple of dances that we were working on and then we found that we could fit them together into a cohesive whole. The story grew out of the creation of the dances, and the entire thing was a completely collaborative experience.
While When I Was, Qui Je Suis has a substantial creative element to it, there are a number of underlying themes to the story. What are the most important messages and ideas that you want to convey to the audience?
I don’t know if we have any specific message we’re trying to convey with the show, although there are some recurring themes. The overall story arc of the show follows the life of a girl through four stages, each stage represented by a fantasy and reality piece. What wound up happening is that in each phase the girl finds herself left alone, expectations defeated, and must find a way to pick herself up again. I guess that’s what life is for us – not to sound melodramatic or depressing, but with each phase of life we have expectations of what it’s going to be like. Those are the fantasy, whether it’s imagining your first love, or your first time moving out on your own and getting a “real job”, we get really worked up and excited about how amazing our lives are going to be. When reality hits it’s usually not what we expected, and that’s when the stuff life is really made of sets in: picking yourself up, figuring out where you’re at, and finding the joy in who you are no matter what’s going on in life.
Which artists and performers have been inspirational for Les Petites Taquines in shaping your vision?
I can’t speak for the other girls, but some of my top artistic crushes in Vancouver and abroad are people who make things happen for themselves: Lucia Frangione, the Itsazoo crew, and Reid Farrington. Of course, I can’t leave out my childhood hero Karen Kain. Seeing her dance live when I was 12 years old was inspirational.
What other projects are you and the other members of Les Petites Taquines preparing for the future?
That’s exactly what we’re trying to figure out! This is our first major creation as a company, and we’re all busy theatre artists in other areas as well. I have my own theatre production company (Xua Xua Productions) as well as working for Pacific Theatre, Jackie’s a busy actress, Linsy is a technical director for TWU as well as a properties manager all over town, and Francine is an actress, singer, and director. We all have plans with our own personal projects coming up in Fall, but we’ll definitely be dancing together again in the future. I know I’ve got plans to create a dance theatre show to The Five Ghosts by Stars, and would love it to be an LPT production.