Contemporary dancer Carol-Ann Bohrn grew up in Brandon, Man. – a place where hockey and farming dominate the local culture.
Among the inundation of traditional rural values, the seed of Bohrn’s love affair with dance was planted with the discovery of ballet via her parents encyclopedia set.
“And then I discovered tap, and I loved tap for a year. And then I loved jazz. When I was 12, I went back to ballet … Ballet is so foundational, strengthening and disciplined.”
After travelling to New York to dance at 17, and then later leaving to study at Ryerson University, Bohrn’s perception of her hometown shifted.
“I moved to Toronto when I was 18, and it was highly overwhelming to be in a big city and learn all those living-by-one’s-self skills at once. Eventually, I felt more at home there and could appreciate Brandon for the clean, cute and safe town that it was from a distance.”
Bohrn says a mysterious back injury that she sustained when she was 19 has since informed the way she dances.
“It was really mysterious pain. There was nothing really that happened that I could pinpoint its origin to. I became chronically stiff,” Bohrn says.
“It forced me to work in a completely different way. It opened up a lot of creative portals.”
In learning how to cope with her injury, Bohrn turned to swimming, tai chi and anything she could get her hands on that she thought could help her with movement.
When she discovered somatic practice, meditative techniques based on the internal sensation of the individual, something clicked for Bohrn.
“Somatic practices are really what changed my life. Meditation is the most traditional somatic practice. There’s a lot of other somatic practices (that) are lot more approachable, like
continuum, mitzvah … I just did a weekend of feldenkrais!
“Without having a good connection with your body, it’s hard to be as articulate in your expression.”
Bohrn’s expression through movement will be visible in January, when she presents a piece she choreographed through the MAWA mentorship program. She’s also in the process of developing new work through Gear Shifting Performance Works.
Published in Volume 73, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 29, 2018)