A group of people dance with their arms raised in front of a concrete wall with windows.
Blog post

EAIR 2022: Carolin Mateus and Gabrielle Greener

posted October 7th, 2022

Sharing the leadership of their residency project Carolin Mateus and Gabrielle Greener created an impressive array of dance experiences during their summer with Mocean.

"In Colombia in 2016, I carried out research into theoretical support regarding the culture of Hip Hop, particularly in terms of this style of dance as representative of the values and principles that govern the development of personal identity and character training in the life of dancers."

- Carolin Mateus

Mateus past research inspired the structure of their residency with Greener - together they created an intentional artistic community that provided direct emotional and material support in the lives of dance artists. Throughout July and August, they offered specialized training to 16 selected dance artists from a wide range of dance backgrounds including contemporary, jazz, heels, waacking, popping, house, Kpop, and Hip Hop.

Using freestyle as a creative tool, each dancer was supported in developing their own essence and freedom of expression, as the group explored the value of each body and its particular skills, through the principles of Hip Hop culture: self-esteem, equality, personal development, liberation, respect, culture, diversity, tolerance, solidarity and community.

"Hip Hop culture respects the dignity and sanctity of life without discrimination or prejudice. Hiphoppas will take into account the protection and development of life. Hip Hop is a term that describes our independent collective consciousness, as a conscious way of life, we recognize our influence on society, especially children. Hip Hop culture fosters brotherhood, fraternity, childhood and family, we are aware not to bring or encourage any deliberate disrespect that endangers the dignity and reputation of our children, elders and ancestors.”

- Parker, The Gospel of Hip-Hop, 2009, p187

Alongside their closed training program, they also offered four free and open workshops throughout the summer, welcoming people of all ages and abilities to try out new dance styles from House, Hip Hop, Waacking + Heels, to Improv/Freestyle, in a joyful and supportive community environment.

Early in the summer, Mateus and Greener had the chance to travel to Toronto for the Unity Charity's annual Unity Fest - Canada's only national Hip Hop festival! In a jam-packed weekend of classes, battles, and performances, they met Hip Hop artists in dance, music, visual arts, and more, and came back to Halifax to share new learning and inspiration with their training crew. In weekly sessions the crew worked collaboratively to choreograph a new 20-minute work: Somos Uno (We Are One).

This new work investigated street dance and its relationship with the body of each dancer, in a powerful expression of emotions and sensations combined with the fundamental movements, styles, and history of street dance. Somos Uno ultimately questioned how and why we move, asking: What does dance mean to you in your life? What does your body mean to you? What can your dance contribute to the life of another person? Why do you dance?

Mateus and Greener's residency culminated in an explosive performance on the Halifax Waterfront, premiering Somos Uno to an audience of over 400 spectators. It was a joy to witness the results of their passionate heart-filled work, in the glowing faces of the performers, and the exuberant whoops of the crowd.