For Monique Salez, The Dream Cab is all about letting go, both onstage and off. The popular local dancer and flamenco instructor describes her upcoming multimedia stage show at the McPherson as “saucy, surreal flamenco fusion” — and a huge undertaking.
“I’ve given myself permission to do whatever I feel like,” says Salez. “I’m not doing this to service a specific audience; I’m doing this to serve my own cravings as an artist …. This is really just me allowing myself to free myself up and giving myself permission to release the hounds.”
One of Salez’s artistic cravings is to see dancers getting sexy on stage, which is something she thinks Victoria is missing.
“There’s not a lot of trained dancers doing sexy stuff who aren’t at Montys or the Red Lion,” laments Salez. “And I’m not saying we’re taking our clothes off, because we’re not, but I’m talking about empowered, trained women being really in their sexuality and their movement really being about that.”
The vignette-based show features 11 “movers,” including Salez herself, plus three musicians, a video projectionist, live artwork and costumes by Pacific Design Academy fashion students, not to mention contributions from all kinds of Victoria creative types, whether it be Lynda Raino donating her dance studio for rehearsals or dancer Lori Hamar handling stage direction.
“All these offshoots are happening — and I’m sort of holding what I call the bucking and slippery vision to see it through to the end,” says Salez. “In this sort of energy and space, it is fascinating the support that’s poured in. None of us know if we’re getting paid. It’s completely out of my pocket with a hope that we’ll find a way.”
Another of Salez’s desires she’s fulfilling with The Dream Cab is working with musician and performer Jenny Clark (see Doing the Dream Work on Page 10) a longtime friend of Salez’s who she’s always wanted to collaborate with.
“We would do airbands together in high school …. We just had such a creative spark,” says Salez. “She’s just one of my favourite people to be around …. I thought, ‘I can’t do a pure flamenco show because she’s not a flamenco dancer, so I’m just going to do a show where Jenny can be in it.’”
In fact, some of the original inklings of The Dream Cab came from a show Clark and Salez were working on 11 years ago. It was called Flux Erotica, and the pair were set to perform it at Lucky Bar. While Salez doesn’t quite recall why the gig didn’t get off the ground, she does know parts of it are resurfacing now.
“One of the pieces in [The Dream Cab] is directly from that show,” she explains. “I’m not sure what happened to tell you the truth, why it never saw itself through, but there was probably the original seed of Jenny and I doing something edgy together.”
And The Dream Cab may not be the last time this duo does something saucy; Salez is talking about the performance morphing into a regular cabaret series.
“We need a little space where people can come and be a little bit edgy,” says Salez. “We have the potential.”
Filling a larger theatre like the McPherson is no small undertaking, especially for a locally produced show being mounted for the first time, but Salez says selling out the show wasn’t necessarily a concern; she was more worried about getting a stage that worked with her vision.
“I’m a flamenco artist and my percussion instrument is my floor,” she says. “The Mac has this beautiful old fir floor, it’s so bright, the sound, when you drum on it with your feet. It’s stunning.”
Indeed, it all comes back to Salez’s original motivation for orchestrating The Dream Cab: following her heart and giving in to her desires.
“When do you just make that choice to go for it?” she says. “How long do you sit back and go, ‘Oh, when I have the money’ or ‘When I think I’m ready.’ At some point, you’ve just got to go for it.”
Given the one-night-only performance is approaching sold-out status, it seems Victorians would agree. But even for some of the performers, the show still feels like a dream.
“Even a month ago, [Clark] was saying, ‘I’m still not quite believing that this is happening,’” says Salez. “And I was like, ‘Babe, I’ve paid for the Mac, so believe it.’” M