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Mother Sorrow: A Work in Progress

From blueprints to footprints on stage, a contemporary dance project unfolds


FEB 28, 2023 | ISSUE 11

Photo by Mike McClung

Artistic productions are often concealed – literally and figuratively – behind a curtain until their debut, making it easy to forget the months and years of labour that go into bringing a performance to life. Occasionally, however, we’re offered a rare glimpse into the development process, such as when Canadian choreographer and professional dancer Jennifer Nichols invited smART Magazine to a private working rehearsal of her latest venture, Mother Sorrow.

Nichols first conceived of the project back in 2018, inspired to construct a retelling of Pergolesi’s “Stabat Mater” that innovatively combined dance, opera, the original baroque score, and new music. Joining forces with the composer Adam Scime and the librettist, poet, and playwright David James Brock, Nichols was at last able to assemble the cast of dancers, musicians, and opera singers for three weeks of rehearsal in Toronto towards the end of 2022. On a brisk, overcast December afternoon, a small group gathered inside the Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church and Centre for...