dance:craft vr

dance:craft vr

dance:craft vr

claire sanford | deb dumka | debra sloan | joe laughlin | heather dotto

july 27 & 28, 2024

1386 cartwright st. vancouver, bc

VR experience 12:00 pm - 4:00 pm

panel discussion 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

The Craft Council of British Columbia is proud to be hosting an immersive VR viewing of Dance:Craft, our multi-faceted performance collaboration and exhibition with Joe Ink about craft materiality and dance. The event will take place on July 27 and 28 at the CCBC on Granville Island.

Visitors will be able to drop by anytime between 12 pm – 4 pm to explore artist studios and experience a dance performance showcasing contemporary craft in virtual reality. Additionally, audiences will have an opportunity to get a ticket to attend a panel discussion featuring VR filmmaker and cinematographer Claire Sanford, artists Deb Dumka and Debra Sloan, choreographer Joe Laughlin and dancer Heather Dotto.

photo © Michael Slobodian

This project aims to immerse the viewer in the artists’ studios, and explore connections between and interpretations of craft materiality through the communicative and ephemeral language of dance. The collaborative, cumulative and responsive project recognizes the development of refined material understandings as a transformative method of building stronger relations with the natural material world.


Claire Sanford is a Canadian cinematographer, documentary filmmaker and immersive artist with a focus on stories exploring the natural world, human identity, and how they overlap. Originally from a small island on the West Coast of British Columbia, Canada, Claire grew up immersed in nature and became versed in the quiet art of observation. Her work employs visceral cinematography, evocative ambisonic soundscapes and non-traditional narratives, exploring the interplay of our senses and our memories in the creation of story. 

Projects directed and lensed by Claire have been exhibited at film festivals, theatres and galleries internationally. A highlight is her intimate documentary Violet Gave Willingly which was featured at IDFA, DOC NYC and Hot Docs 2022. In 2023, her first virtual reality film, Texada, was and official selection at IDFA DocLab. She has filmed around the world on formats from 16mm to 4k for documentary features, shorts and series, narrative short-form projects, as well as virtual reality and 360-degree films. She is currently based in Montreal, Canada.

Deborah Dumka, born in 1954, has lived for the most part in her birth province of BC, occasionally in other parts of Canada and mostly on the shores of an ocean. Her post secondary education and short career in electrical engineering bestowed on her a problem solving lens that carries into her interactive textile based craft practice. The physical and emotional landscapes of rural settings are the backdrop to her explorations, integrating colour, texture and sound, producing small installations based on hand made felt floor carpets.

Within her work, Dumka explores themes of belonging, place and our connection with nature. She uses wool, silk, dyes and carding tools to blend raw materials into thin layers that are assembled through felting into low relief tactile elements. Using electronics, she integrates landscape sounds, expanding the sensory snapshot, connecting into our private experiences through a constructed moment.

In 2011, thinking through the struggle to express with words the emotions driving her works, she wondered about the efficacy of spoken language versus the expressive vocabulary of a different art form. She invited contemporary dancer Sylvie Mazerolle to her studio to reflect on and respond to the series Water on Stone. The dance, performed on the pebble beach inspiring the series, was filmed and projected onto the work White Noise. Muscle memory developed through rhythm, water, motion and repetition emerged as the thread common to the intent of the work, the fabrication process and the beautiful movement of the dance.

The Dance:Craft Project brings an opportunity to continue the conversation.

Debra is a British Columbian ceramic artist who chose to begin her career through a six-year self-directed apprenticeship starting in 1973, attaining her BFA 30 years later. She is a parent, teacher, exhibitor, speaker, historian, writer, traveller, adjudicator, and collector, but her main role is that of a studio artist. She has received a number of awards and grants, most recently a Canada Council for the Arts – Arts Abroad Project grant, supporting her residency in Japan. Her writing and images have been published in international magazines, and her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, and is held in many public collections, as well as in private collections world-wide. Debra’s practice revolves around her interest in the human condition – which she regards as a fundamental and timeless platform for commentary – and where the figure is an opportunistic and fulsome enactor.

In our modern world, notions of the divine have migrated into post-modern skepticism. However, we do share uncertainty around our world state, and any way forward. The humanistic nature of clay provides the perfect vehicle to address journeys undertaken and unknown outcomes. Craft objects are usually realized as fixed forms – ideas made visible, topical and long-lasting. This Dance:Craft project has been about unfastening notions around static objects and intentional spatial interaction through dance. It is a collaboration of the fixed with the dynamic. Debra’s pieces will be much larger than usual, made in interchangeable parts, open to being removed from their quiescent state, and through the dancers’ interaction, become kinetic.

Joe Laughlin is a choreographer and the founding Artistic Director of Joe Ink. He has created 13 productions for the company, most recently 4OUR, Retrospective: 25 Years, dusk and GRACE, and his over 60 works have been performed in Canada, the US, UK, Europe, South Africa and South Korea. Joe has received the Canada Council Jacqueline Lemieux Prize, the Clifford E. Lee Choreography Award and the BC Isadora Award for Choreography. A particularly versatile artist Joe has worked in dance, theatre and television, receiving commissions from arts organizations including the Canada Dance Festival, the National Arts Centre, the Banff Centre, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Ballet BC and the Johannesburg based Moving into Dance Mophatong, among others. Well known for his personable teaching style, Joe’s ability to inspire dancers and non-dancers alike to discover their individual movement potential is one of his unique talents and led him to create the dance program Move It!

Joe Ink was founded in 1995 and has built a reputation for its versatility. Described as “wickedly sophisticated,” “unusual,” and “daring,” this Vancouver dance company speaks in a movement language all its own. The company’s mission is to engage and inspire people through the medium of dance, pushing the edge creatively as professional artists while also strengthening community through dance. Since inception, Joe Ink has balanced local performances and projects in partnership with national and international artists and organizations while also producing public performances in the context of the community-based dance program Move It!

photos © Michael Slobodian