Between two lungs

Young Lungs annual No Idling dance showcase switches gears

Breathe in the Young Lungs annual show this weekend at the Gas Station Arts Centre. Mandy Malezdrewich

Young lungs have more endurance. They don’t tire easily.

They also easily transfer, or exchange, oxygen from the air we breathe into our bloodstream. That is why this is such an appropriate name for the equally tireless Young Lungs Dance Exchange.

Young Lungs began breathing new life into the local arts and dance scene in 2003.

Its website states that the group “is a network of support for Winnipeg artists. Young Lungs is an invitation to join forces and unite the Winnipeg arts community.”

Dancer and choreographer Alexandra Elliott, who has been a part of Young Lungs since 2006, explains the reasoning behind the choice of “dance exchange” rather than “company” or “troupe,” as are often used by other artistic groups.

“Since the beginning there has been an effort to collaborate with interdisciplinary artists,” says Elliott, 29.

This includes working with different musicians, poets and video artists from within the arts community.

“There is always an undercurrent of dance. There is a strong feeling of wanting to learn about different fields and disciplines.”

The group’s yearly No Idling show will see Elliott not only choreographing, but also performing in her piece.

“It’s exciting to dance in my own work. It’s the first time I’ve taken on the challenge.”

Entitled Drawn, Elliott says the duet between her and partner Ian Mozdzen is about the path a relationship takes between two beings.

“It’s about the journey of emotion, starting from safe and calm and comforting, and then we explore the more darker side, with abandonment, betrayal. We also explore loss, absence and memory.”

Mozdzen speaks highly of working with Elliot.

“We laugh a lot. So much laughing,” he says. “Usually we are trying something very serious, like a lift or sculpture, and we are examining it very seriously, and then there will be some strange mishap, and it’ll just crack us up. But after all this, it leads to movement that we have a ‘history’ with, even more so because she is both dancing and choreographing. So I am there with her as she is choreographing, both physically and collaboratively, trying to make the images and movements that are coming to her happen in the space.”

Drawn is very physically demanding, with the pair performing on stage for 25 minutes.

Elliott explains that this year’s No Idling is different than the show in previous years.

“The specific show goal was to give two established artists more time to create,” she says.

In past years, five to seven short pieces had been showcased.

“The show is also less of an interdisciplinary collaboration than our other show and is predominantly dance.”

Staying true to artistic form, there is always some form of collaboration, which Elliott says was also new to her this year.

“I collaborated with a costume designer named Andrea Pelletier. This was a new element, to explain the qualities of the dance and have the emotions of the story come out through the costume.”

No Idling runs Friday, Feb. 24 and Saturday, Feb. 25 at 8 p.m., with a 3 p.m. matinee on Feb. 25, at the Gas Station Theatre. Tickets are $15. Reserve tickets by emailing [email protected], or buy them at the door. Visit

Published in Volume 66, Number 20 of The Uniter (February 22, 2012)

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