The Brian Webb Dance Company
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Par Becky Hagan-Egyir

A Dream Made Reality

When Brian Webb was seventeen, he took a class that would change the way he understood life. “I took my first movement class when I did my undergraduate degree, starting in 1969. And I took that movement class and it changed my life — that one class,” he says.

From that moment on, dance became Brian’s reality. Days after graduating, he moved out east to the city of dreams for many artists throughout the world: New York. “I moved to New York to become a dancer and I danced there throughout the 1970s,” he says. Brian would make one last stop in Los Angeles to pursue his master’s degree in the performing arts before coming back home to Edmonton, permanently.

Since then, the Brian Webb Dance Company (BWDC) has given Edmonton more than 30 diverse seasons of contemporary dance. Community involvement drives the company forward. “I feel that working in Edmonton, I am part of the community, which is different than saying I’m part of the arts community — I am part of the arts community. But I really try not to isolate myself from the community, as I want to be part of the community at large,” says Brian. “And I think that’s reflected in the audience that the Brian Webb Dance Company has.”

Our audience, I think, is an audience who wants to be provoked, who loves the adventure of the new. Because it is an adventure. Each time you go to a show you do not know what’s going to happen. - Brian Webb, artistic director
Contemporary dance performances, art auctions, art brunches
Brian Webb, artistic director of The Brian Webb Dance Company, is a strong member of the Edmonton community. Photo provided.

Seeing Through Fresh Eyes

Audiences in Edmonton have been enchanted by the personal connections they have made with the performances on stage, since BWDC first began. Brian invites audiences to share his passion for dance with him. “Don’t become bored, don’t become complacent. Be open to looking at experiences with fresh eyes,” says Brian. “Our audience, I think, is an audience who wants to be provoked, who loves the adventure of the new. Because it is an adventure. Each time you go to a show you do not know what’s going to happen.”

Contemporary art of any form isn’t always an easy pill for people to swallow. The same goes for contemporary dance – but that’s the point. “The contemporary arts [are] about questioning values,” says Brian. “It’s to provoke us into thinking.”

Contemporary dance performances, art auctions, art brunches
The Brian Webb Dance Company has a history of performing provocative, contemporary dances at various locations throughout Edmonton for more than 30 years. Photo provided.

Every Culture Dances

Provocation in contemporary arts is connected to the experience of learning something new. It’s a part of the BWDC’s performances and is also seen in the works of visiting companies, such as Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal or Toronto Dance Theatre performing during the seasons. But provocation is only a part of the beauty of dance.

“Every culture dances,” Brian says. It’s an expression that supports his belief that dance is a “wonderful celebration of life.”

“There are very few emotions and we all recognize them: You know happiness, I know happiness, you know sadness, I know sadness,” he says. “But how we give context to those emotions can be very individual.”

Contemporary dance performances, art auctions, art brunches
Dancers in the Brian Webb Dance company express a variety of emotions through their contemporary pieces. Photo provided.
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