Breaking the Rhythm – The Evolution of Rhythmical Contemporary

When you are in it, it’s really hard to see the bigger picture. Learning Dyana’s unique style isn’t always easy. Sometimes it’s hard to feel comfortable or graceful in the movement. That is, until you see it within context. I imagine an elaborate mandala swirling around in her head as she sets her movement on us. It’s a complex set of patterns and rhythms that collectively create her award winning style.

One of the rehearsal techniques that Dyana used for Spark! and Grim was to film us as we ran pieces in order for us to watch it in playback to see how we were moving collectively. This gave us the opportunity to watch the character development evolve, to fine tune our movement to reflect the group as a whole. It was a visual tool where we learned to parrot each other and observe how each of us interacted with the movement and music.

We didn’t do this for Seven.

Not until after the Fringe did we really grasp the bigger patterns that occur as we danced together. I think Volatile Reaction was the best and most striking example of this. Bouncing on my heels with a relaxed neck felt awkward and unflattering. But I committed to it, I found anger in it, and I just went for it. Watching it in playback I saw the building ‘pulse’; I could tell that when we did this together, it created a sense of tension and a buildup. I can see now why this was a crowd favorite.

Watching the show after the fact really brought perspective to the trust we have in this style and the direction we are given. The four of us who perform Seven became intimately connected to each phrase of movement for what it was. Instead of seeing the movement, we were taught to feel the movement, to feel each other, to feel the rhythm (or the absence thereof). This way of learning was ideal for a show that is centered around emotion and I think too, for learning and embodying the rhythmical contemporary style.

As a founding member, this was my third full length show, but for the other three, it was their first. In all honesty, I think it made us stronger as a group because Dyana got to build three new members with the experience of two seasons behind her. But I think that’s the point. The company is supposed to build, evolve, and improve. We wouldn’t be successful otherwise. And because the style is unique to Dyana and Broken Rhythms, dancing with her is really the best way to grow in this company.

As a choreographer and director, Dyana has grown in leaps and bounds. She has fine-tuned her abilities as a leader; balancing her kind and generous spirit with direct communication and an authoritative presence that still manages to be warm and welcoming.

In remounting some of our old favorites from Spark! and Grim, I’ve been watching Dyana carefully balance deconstructing some of the more sophisticated rhythmical contemporary movements to reflect earlier versions of her style, all the while infusing her growth and development of the style with dances from the past. What I’ve also observed, from Dyana and I especially, is how much of ourselves is attached to each dance; remounting old pieces has surfaced a lot of memories, feelings, and experiences that we went through in our first two years. It will be nice to see our audience’s reaction to our old work and new guest dancers at #LASHBASH

Seven was a reflection of a hard year of lessons in letting go (not only for Dyana, but all of us I think). Dyana likes to keep her cards close, but I’ve been picking her brain a bit about what’s next for us following the Edmonton Fringe this summer. Although vague hints and little crumbs are all I am getting at this point, I can tell you she has a renewed sense of playfulness and joy emanating from her movement. But don’t worry; if you are as attracted to the dark side of her expression of movement, I don’t think that’s gone anywhere. Be prepared, Victoria, big things are brewing in the creative mind of Broken Rhythm’s director. No pressure, Dy!

– Naomi Graham


Meet… Dyana Sonik-Henderson

Dyana is the Artistic Director of Broken Rhythms, she is driven, talented, incredibly creative and definitely a bit crazy! Everyone has a few quirks but Dyana is full of them! She tends to stroke her long pretend beard, or twist a single strand of hair when very focused on choreography, and she has created her own special vocabulary of sounds and language she uses when explaining dance! Dyana works tirelessly for the company and the dance community so when she’s needing a little extra pep a long run americano with a kiss of cream is just the ticket!

Director Extraordinaire

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Now here’s what Dyana had to say about Broken Rhythms and SEVEN…

Dyana and Broken Rhythms
Dyana and Broken Rhythms

Since its premier performance Spark at Intrepid Theatre’s YOU SHOW, Broken Rhythms has grown and developed into a company that I am so proud of and thankful for. Started originally as a one-time organization for one show, it has now done three full productions, over 10 new works, and over 50 collaborative/community projects.

SEVEN was a very different show for myself and for Broken Rhythms. The idea of a show dealing and representing the SEVEN stages of grief candidly can be intimidating. I wanted to be truthful to the experience and allow it to hit many different levels to those in the audience and give something for my dancers to connect with.

Teaching a Workshop
Teaching a Workshop

What made me think of touring the show was the feedback given after Fringe 2014. The out pour of support and stories concerning people struggling with there own personal grief made me realize we had stumbled onto a universal subject that is rarely talked about and still considered taboo. I believe it worked as a type of therapy to some, as it did for my dancers and myself. I am so ecstatic to display it to a new audience and for the company to continue to grow and develop new works in Victoria B.C.

Spoken Word Festival
Spoken Word Festival

With the next three years already in various stages of development I look forward to see where Broken Rhythms will take us next. To be Artistic Director of a company I am so passionate about and surrounded by people I am so confident in makes me work harder than I have ever worked before. I end by thanking everyone who took the time to read this and have shown interest in this company.

We will represent B.C artists at the Edmonton fringe festival and make you proud.

– Dyana