Improvisers-in-Residence Bring Music, Movement to Guelph

August 27, 2012 - News Release

This fall, the University of Guelph will welcome Canadian musician Scott Thomson and dance artist and musician Susanna Hood as improvisers-in-residence. Their three-month sojourn will be sponsored by U of G’s Improvisation, Community and Social Practice (ICASP) and by Musagetes, a Guelph-based organization involving artists, cultural mediators and public intellectuals.

Scott Thomson and Susanna Hood

The ICASP research project is led by Ajay Heble, an English professor in the School of English and Theatre Studies, and artistic director and founder of the award-winning Guelph Jazz Festival.

“The nature of the residency is different this year,” Heble said. “This time, there is not only music but also dance. And by actually living full-time in Guelph, the improvisers-in-residence will be fully immersed in the environment.”

Thomson and Hood will run workshops, musical dialogue and other performances to foster creative community-building through the arts.

Thomson says his appointment is “both an honour and an enticing challenge.” He spent time studying and working in Guelph between 1994 and 2005.

“It is also a privilege to be able to do this work with my wife and creative partner, Susanna Hood, a singular artist and exceptional performer who is relatively new to Guelph. Together, we hope to cultivate strong links with professional-calibre creative musicians and contemporary dancers in town, and, importantly and excitingly, with amateur dancers and music-makers whom we wish to place at the core of our project.”

The group will develop a multidisciplinary, family-oriented work for presentation in Exhibition Park Oct. 13.

Thomson and Hood will spend seven consecutive weeks in Guelph, allowing them to get to know the community and their local collaborators. “Collaboration is at the core of the different work that I do as an artist, and it is truly a luxury to be able to do such work over such a relatively extended time frame,” said Thomson.

A trombonist and composer who plays in various musical styles, Thomson helped found the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto and served as a director until 2009. He is known for a series of site-specific works that he calls “cartographic compositions.”

An accomplished dance artist and musician, Hood has spent more than 10 years combining voice and movement in sensual performances. Her choreography, compositions and interdisciplinary collaborations have appeared locally, nationally and internationally, both on stage and in film. She has taught improvisation at the School of the Toronto Dance Theatre since 2005.

Hood has sung with Toronto’s Woodshed Orchestra for two years. She recently received the Victor Martyn Lynch-Staunton Award for dance from the Canada Council.

“I am greatly looking forward to sharing the post of co-Improviser-in-Residence in Guelph this fall,” Hood said. “The opportunity to connect in such an integral, extended, and hands-on way with so many facets of this vibrant community is a rare gift. It is a particular treat to share this post with my partner in life and art. I am eager to embark on what we both hope will be a mutually inspiring period of creation, shared learning and play with all who participate.”

She will be connecting with several members of Guelph’s dance community whose work she admires, such as the members of the Fall on Your Feet Collective, The Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival, and Dance Theatre David Earle. Through these ties, Hood aims to spark new creative collaborations with other professional and amateur dance and music-makers.

“I can’t think of a more fitting pair of improvisers to take on this role and to animate our city with the spirit of creativity.” said Heble. “Scott and Susanna have a brilliant game plan, one that will immerse them in the heart of Guelph’s creative community. Building on the tremendous success of our inaugural improviser-in-residence program in 2011, and on ICASP’s rewarding partnership with Musagetes, I know that this ongoing initiative will play a significant role in setting our community abuzz with the spirit of collaboration, innovation, and improvisation.”

Kim Thorne
Project Manager
Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice
519-824-4120, Ext. 53885

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1