Aszure Barton. Photo by Graeme Mitchell.

Ballet BC will perform BUSK by Aszure Barton in Program 1, an evening shared with the performance of B.R.I.S.A. by Johan Inger. In this interview, Aszure discusses the movement vocabulary in BUSK and her priority to look back on her previous works.

Performances run Oct.31-Nov.2, 2019 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver. Tickets & info at

October 1, 2019

BUSK was created in 2009 and, until now, has only been performed professionally by your own company, Aszure Barton & Artists. What motivated you to revisit the piece with Ballet BC?

It takes me time to figure out why I made certain choices about a piece of work – what really interested me, what I feel was successful and what was not. Recently, I have been excited to revisit and share BUSK with audiences again. After visiting Ballet BC and seeing them perform last year, I recognized how focused, committed and capable these dancers are. I think a lot of that direction comes from the woman in charge – Emily (Molnar). She is behind the profound evolution of the company over the last few years, modelling integrity, kindness and strength. I have a lot of respect for her.

Originally, BUSK was an evening-length piece and this version performed by Ballet BC is a concise version, which is strong and works really well.

You have said that the movement vocabulary in BUSK is very detailed and involves what you refer to as ‘multitasking’ of the body. Can you explain?

A lot of the material in BUSK was created in Santa Barbara with my company in 2009. At the time, I was very interested in the ‘layers’ that I observed in the communities of Santa Barbara: an excess of wealth contrasted by an abundant homeless population. The dichotomy was stark. I remember also being fascinated by the movements of people grouped together as well as the posturing of lone individuals. In one instance, the way that their heads moved was very animated and, from a distance, resembled a flock of birds. In the studio, we explored different ways of focusing the eyes and head, while also engaging other parts of the body, such as the hands, core and feet, in movement. In doing so, we challenged the body to ‘multitask’ in very complex ways.

I’m drawn to the way that the process of ‘multitasking’ the body exposes the stories that live within each individual. So much of what we talked about in the studio is articulating that you don’t have to make a movement into something that it’s not; just do the movement and the humanity within the body is enough. It is profoundly beautiful when you keep it simple.

Your current reflections on your work?

In the initial stages of learning your own craft as a choreographer, you have to be choreographing a lot, and I’m grateful for the many amazing opportunities to create and explore, and to build up a vocabulary and body of work. In moments, it can leave you feeling like you’re just producing and producing. Recently, I’ve made it a priority to look back at my work and try to understand not what other people were drawn to, but what I am really interested in. In this moment, it is form and the wisdom of the body itself.

As an artist whose primary medium is the body, what part most fascinates you and why?

The first thing that comes to mind are the lungs. In dance, we speak a lot about breath, how our lungs help us to maximize our energy and allow us to move with incredible efficiency.