Monday, March 31, 2014

In the waters with Andrea Nann

We sat down with contemporary dance artist and choreographer Andrea Nann and asked her about her profession and how she stays strong, physically healthy and limber  ...

1. What is your career? 
I’m a contemporary dance artist.  I choreograph, design, devise, interpret and perform.  I am also the artistic director of Dreamwalker Dance Company and produce a collaborative multi-arts creation and performance platform called The Whole Shebang.  In April we have shows in Guelph and St. Catharines and I'm also currently performing in he:she at the National Ballet School's Betty Oliphant Theatre with Peggy Baker Dance Projects

2. What do you love most about it?  
I love the ephemerality and the immediacy of a dance experience and the fact that the art form asks for participation, through awareness or consciousness, from everyone (performers and audience) who is part of that experience.  On a practical level, it’s pretty convenient to have constant access to one’s instrument.  Wherever I go, it’s with me!

3. If you could clear up one misconception about your profession, what would it be?
I wish more people could see dance as multifaceted with aspects that can connect all of us.  Dance is more than elitist art or entertainment or exercise. 

4. How do you integrate the water circuit into your training regime? 
Any time I train or rehearse I push my body to gain and achieve optimal strength, flexibility and range of motion for action, reaction, control and dynamic expression.  Dancers, like all athletes, are constantly managing body pain whether it be sore muscles, strained or pulled ligaments and tendons, joint pain, tissue name it. The water circuit can be a great part of recovery because it follows a therapeutic sequence that alternately cools and heats the body, reducing swelling and promoting healing.  I always take full benefit of 'icing' my body, sometimes spending up to 5 minutes fully immersed in the cold pool.  On days when the waters feel particularly frigid I stay there by distracting myself, turning my attention to the shimmering reflections of the salt pool waters playing like the northern lights on the walls and ceiling...

The infrared sauna also offers huge toxin burning benefits and on particularly sore days, I end the circuit with 10 minutes in the Epsom salt pool, letting the salts do their work in drawing lactic acid out from my overworked muscles.  The Epsom salt pool is also a good place to give my muscles a final 'squeezing' massage, using my hands and my imagination to squeeze toxins out of my muscles before heading to the showers.

5. How do you do the water circuit? 
I have come to appreciate that the way I prepare to do something greatly impacts the quality of the experience I will have.  As odd as it might sound, I have even established an ‘entrance ritual’ to the water circuit.  If you are rolling your eyes as you read this then I suggest you move to the next question!  

I usually enter the pool room and stand off to one side so my ears can adjust to the sound of the room.  When I’m ready I slip quietly into the Dead Sea salt pool and move very slowly through the water, observing and responding to the buoyancy and the warmth.  I look into the water as I move so the underwater pool lights can soften my focus allowing my eyes to relax.  I take deep breaths and I sigh a lot!  I eventually find my way to one of the waterfall fountains and hold my fingertips directly under the stream, stimulating the nerve endings where the nails meet skin.  I do the same thing with my feet and lastly with the top of my head.  Then I make my way to a power jet to loosen the muscles of my back.  When I’m ready, I plunge my whole body under water and this marks the start of my circuit.  I do the rest of the water circuit at a pretty quick pace, always plunging myself wholly into the waters (yes even in the cold pool!) for optimal blood circulation benefits, often adding an extra loop between the infrared sauna and the cold pool.

6. What is your favourite part of the water circuit?  
My entrance ritual and the sauna and the cold pool loop.

7. Describe your perfect day. 
Any day that includes a d-e-l-u-x-e m-o-r-o-c-c-a-n s-p-i-c-e b-o-d-y g-l-o-w treatment.

8. How do you un-wind after a long day?  
Sitting at the kitchen table, drinking a glass of wine, listening to my husband and son talk about sports. 

9. What books on your nightstand?
The Orenda by Joseph Boyden, Light by Souvankham Thammavongsa, Where the Heart Beats: John Cage, Zen Buddhism and the Inner Life of Artists by Kay Larson. 

10. What’s your favourite indulgence? 
How do you spell d-e-l-u-x-e m-o-r-o-c-c-a-n s-p-i-c-e b-o-d-y g-l-o-w?

11. Early bird or night owl? 
I know every hour of the night.

12. Your ride?  The rocket?  Bike?  Car? 
I love my bike.

13. Who is your role model or mentor? 
My parents Richard Nann and Beverly Nann.

14. What advise would you give to young dancers? 
Be true to yourself.
To read more about Andrea and Dreamwalker Dance Company, visit

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