Renee Sigouin is a freelance contemporary dancer born and raised in Saskatchewan. From an early age, Renee had the opportunity to work with many dance artists which fuelled her passion and excitement for dance. Contemporary dance led her to Vancouver for pre-professional training, where she continues to explore the art form today.
For the 2018/19 season, Renee is working with Out Innerspace Dance Theatre, Kinesis Dance and Kidd Pivot. We were also privileged to work with Renee for our AinslieWear Holiday Collection video – her gorgeous improvisation work with fellow dancer Rena Narumi is breathtaking to watch.
AinslieWear spoke with Renee recently to learn more about her work, career highlights and inspirations.
Photo: Markus Eriksson
AW: Tell us a little about your dance story – how old were you when you started dance and why did you start?
RS: I started figure skating when I was 3 years old, but I was cold all the time so finally my parents agreed to put me in dance instead when I was 7. I started with ballet and tap and quickly fell in love with all things dance.
Where did you dance in your early days?
I trained with Jacalyn Froehlich at her studio Nipawin School of Dance. She was always encouraging me to get additional experience outside of our regular studio classes and organised extra ballet training for me with Sarah Nolan, Rachel Neville and Hazel-Ann Stark. I’m very grateful for the mentorship, inspiration, encouragement and influence that all of these amazing women had on me during my time as a young dancer. I received my pre-professional training at Modus Operandi in Vancouver from 2009-2012.
When did you know you wanted to become a professional dancer?
I spent many Friday nights and weekends with a pre-professional company in Saskatoon that was made up of several dancers from throughout the province. We would take part in creation processes with guest professional choreographers and perform the works, I did this from age 11-18. This was an amazing opportunity for me to see what it would be like to work as a dancer, auditioning, the creation period, rehearsals and performing. I loved everything about it: the people I met, the rehearsals, walking through the backstage door, the dressing rooms filled with lights, mirrors and costumes, the magic of the theatre, and performing!
Renee with dancer Hyoseung Ye in ‘In Penumbra’ by Paras Terezakis for Kinesis Dance Somatheatro. Photo: Chris Randle.
What drew you to contemporary dance?
My mom and I would go see the National Ballet of Canada, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal (BJM) whenever they toured to Saskatoon. At the time, BJM was doing repertoire by Crystal Pite and Mia Michaels and I was on the edge of my seat.
Do you have any tips for dancers seeking a career in contemporary dance?
The best piece of advice I received was to be interested in my own practice and the rest will follow. For me this means asking myself questions about how I want to experience dance in my body and in relationship to others, what do I see and notice about the world, what surprises me, moves me, makes me laugh.
‘Major Motion Picture’ by Tiffany Tregarthen & David Raymond for Out Innerspace Dance Theatre.
What does a typical day of rehearsal season look like for you?
Monday to Friday a typical day will be a 7 or 8 hour day consisting of an hour to an hour and a half warm-up at the studio, followed by rehearsals, an hour lunch, and then more rehearsals. Often we will do some kind of group improvisation after warming up to tune into each other and lead us into rehearsals for the day.
What does a typical show day look like?
The first show in a new city on tour is typically a long day. We will get called in to the theatre around noon, warm up, do a dress run in the afternoon and then notes followed by dinner break, then hair/makeup/re-warmup/pre-sets/double check your pre-sets/show. Afterwards we go out for dinner and then I head right back to the hotel for an epsom bath and sleep. Subsequent show days look like this: sleep in, eat a big meal, head to the theatre for warmup, run through some notes, and then get ready for the show.
Renee for AinslieWear Holiday 2018.
What is your favourite part of working on a new piece – the choreographic stage, rehearsal, or performance?
I really do love all of it, but my ultimate favourite is the very early stages of creation when we spend most of the time improvising and discovering new things.
You’ve worked with so many incredible choreographers and dance artists in your career – do you have a career highlight or pinch-me moment?
One special tour memory I have was performing at New York City Centre during the Fall for Dance Festival with Company 605 in 2013. It was my first performance with the company and the energy we felt from the jam-packed theatre was incredible.
‘Inheritor Album’ by Lisa Gelley & Josh Martin for Company 605. Photo: David Cooper.
What inspires you?
Friendship, love, nature, light, music, tiny things, fragile things, unanswered things, Clarice Lispector, Maggie Nelson, Jeanette Winterson, Etkar Keret, Chantal Akerman, David Lynch, the entire cast of Parks and Recreation, my peers and colleagues, the list goes on and keeps growing.
What are you currently working on?
My current and upcoming projects for the next year include the premiere of a new creation with Tiffany Tregarthen and David Raymond’s Out Innerspace Dance Theatre which will tour to Germany, Italy and Quebec next season, a work with Paras Terezakis’ Kinesis Dance Somatheatro, and I’m understudying all of the female roles in Kidd Pivot’s new creation Revisor.