Sampson and Bouey set to kick off 2014 Charlottetown Festival with 'Banquet'

Darlene Shea
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Original production explores 1864 Charlottetown Conference through interpretation in dance

CHARLOTTETOWN - A collaborative work between two blossoming Island artists and Confederation Centre will kick off the 2014 Charlottetown Festival this Saturday, May 31, in the Confederation Centre Art Gallery. Led by dancer/choreographer Mark Sampson and violinist/composer Christina Bouey, "Banquet" is an interpretation in dance of the experiences of the 1864 Charlottetown Conference on Confederation.

P.E.I. native, Mark Sampson, is leading a new interpretation-in-dance collaboration entitled "Banquet," which kicks off the 2014 Charlottetown Festival on May 31. Sampson (from left) and fellow Julliard School dancers, Cleo Person, Zoe McNeil, and Daniel Ching rehearse for the upcoming performances.


Co-presented by P.E.I. 2014, this new production is offered free-of-charge on select dates from May 31 to June 7. A dining room table, representing P.E.I., stands alone in the Upper East Gallery. Various chairs, embodied by four dancers - all from the Juilliard School in New York - are invited to the table. Each chair has its own history, needs, and agenda.

"Bringing an original interpretation-in-dance back to P.E.I. is a step forward in getting people to think outside the box," says Sampson. "This project is pushing me outside of my comfort zone; I am playing with length and the idea of structured improvisation, which I have never touched before. It has become an exciting realm of discovery for myself and my dancers." 

He continues, "What is making this process less daunting is the collaborative aspect of working with Christina and my fellow dancers – Cleo Person, Zoe McNeil, and Daniel Ching. We pull inspiration from each other which makes the process flow with ease."

Set to Bouey's haunting original composition, which will be performed live, "Banquet" recalls the experiences of 1864, but also speculates on the experience of contemporary immigrants to the Island, who wonder how they will be treated when they 'arrive at to the table'.

"This is the longest piece of music I have written, and to be able to present it at the centre is a true honour," says Bouey, a graduate of both the Manhattan School of Music and the Boston Conservatory. "The writing is based on aspects of P.E.I.'s history and as an Islander this makes the project important to me."

Noting that she normally performs in concerts and plays written by prominent composers, Bouey continues, "Mark and I have been collaborating all year to create this new show together. I have never composed a piece to fit another form of art until now, and working with Mark, who is a childhood friend, has been a wonderful experience."

Show dates are May 31, and June 4 to 6 at 7:30 p.m.; and 1 p.m. on June 2, 3, 4 and 7.

This production is approximately 30 minutes in length and will be followed by an audience question and answer session with the creative team.

Organizations: Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Boston Conservatory

Geographic location: Charlottetown, P.E.I., New York

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