Photo: Gbohunmi

The Secancy Project

By Meghan Power

Saxophonist-composer Daniel Pelton and dance artist Jocelyn Mah met in 2020 and connected immediately over their shared commitment to the music-dance relationship, which led to some playful, artistically satisfying, and collaborative interactions.

They soon realized they wanted to actively pursue their professional artistic partnership. Since 2020 they’ve been involved with several projects together, including Synergy Set: A Music-Movement Cabaret as part of Fluid Fest 2021, a children’s workshop for the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra’s PhilKids Program, and most recently, The Secancy Project, supported by Calgary Arts Development (CADA). 


“For me as a classically trained dance artist, it’s easy to get stuck, creatively, in that one lane — to become insular. I wanted to open my eyes and learn more from other artists working in other mediums.” Born and raised in Calgary, Jocelyn Mah is a graduate of The School of Toronto Dance Theatre and holds her Master of Arts in Contemporary Dance Performance from The London Contemporary Dance School (London, UK). Jocelyn has performed for numerous independent artists and companies based in Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and London (UK). 


Daniel Pelton has been playing saxophone since he was nine. Graduating in 2018 from the University of Calgary, he studied under award-winning musicians including Juno Award winner Allan Gordon Bell. Daniel’s training has made him a versatile performer in classical, jazz, and contemporary music styles. Daniel’s acclaimed horn band Long Time No Time has shared the stage with notable acts, including New York’s Too Many Zooz. As the Calgary Public Library’s Composer in Residence for 2020, Daniel focused on creating an environment for all community members to connect through music. 


“Funding for the project was essential and allowed us to plan, create, perform, and produce a 4.5-minute film of our collaboration,” explains Jocelyn. “We hired videographer Gbohunmi and Recording Engineer Jess Oliverio who helped bring the project to life.” Jocelyn and Daniel both felt a powerful sense of community interwoven into the production of The Secancy Project.  


“Starting with videographer Gbohunmi, who gave us a whole new lens (pardon the pun) through which we could view our art and what that might mean to different communities. At our rehearsal location, Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (DJD), we had space to immerse ourselves in our practice, but also, we were able to connect with and receive creative insights, feedback, and inspiration from the community of artists also using DJD studio space. And finally, cSPACE offered us a unique location to film our project — their new Eau Claire Neighbourhood Hub — free of charge, and thus including another arm of the Calgary arts community.” 


The Secancy Project is about the intersection of dance and music. Thanks to CADA we were able to explore and deepen our understanding of the relationship between our own artistic practices, and of each other’s in relation to music and movement. Our creative collaboration is about being active participants in the other’s medium. Our hope is for this performance to inspire others to deepen their collaborative spirit and explore ways in which that creative spirit can be shared by artists in music and movement communities.”