A Research/Creation Project


Project Barca starts with an idea that Christopher Columbus exploited in his desire to establish a new trading route to the Orient. Columbus calculated that if he sailed west across the Atlantic he would eventually arrive at his desired destination in the east. Conceptually, philosophically, politically, and aesthetically, going west to find east raises a host of questions, not least about the human urge to adventure, to discover, to take possession of, and to colonize what we find in our paths. It also raises questions about the unanticipated and sometimes unintended results of these adventures, discoveries, and colonizations of various new territories; physical, psychological, and otherwise.


Project Barca explores a range of ideas contained within the phrase 'going west to find east' by first inverting it, and then playing on the inherent paradox of going in either direction to find the other. Also playing on the Spanish and Portuguese word for small boat, barca, the research embarks on a journey of exploration, utilizing comprehensive new Research/Creation methods that question the very platforms it utilizes to disseminate its results, i.e., live performances, mixed media installations, film documentation, mixed mode writings, etc. Most importantly, the research positions contemporary choreographic practice at the center of a scholarly investigation that is framed by our primary research question: how can embodied personal and collective memories be shaped into new 'architectures' of identity and belonging in the form of innovative performance works that speak to wider sections of society?


The main goal of this project is to design a new intellectual framework for research/creation in choreographic practice that deploys and foregrounds intersections of difference, and to produce the full-length multidisciplinary performance work Barca within that framework. Its objectives are:

  1. To bring together a unique team of senior researchers and professional artists/performers to explore new models of art making, without jeopardizing the integrity of both artistic and academic deliverables.

  2. To train a new generation of undergraduate, and graduate students in the innovative and interdisciplinary research/creation techniques we will develop.

  3. To create the performance work Barca as an example of how new roles can be formed and performed against a backdrop of strong local, indigenous, and multiple intersecting identities.

  4. To present this work, with accompanying workshops, seminars, and papers at national and international academic colloquia and peer reviewed journals.

  5. To enhance the theoretical development of both intersectionality and performance studies.


Dr. Henry Daniel - Principal Investigator

Dr. Rita Dhamoon - collaborator/scholar, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Victoria. Dr. Dhamoon’s current research program expands and develops existing work on identity/difference politics, culture, critical views on multiculturalism, race-thinking and racism, feminism and gender, and democracy. She is the author of Identity/Difference Politics: how difference is produced and why it matters (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2009). 

Dr. Olena Hankivsky – collaborator/scholar, Professor in the Public Policy Program at Simon Fraser University (SFU); founder and director of the Institute for Intersectionality Research and Policy. She is internationally recognized for her contributions in the use of intersectionality theory in research and public policy. Dr. Hankivsky publishes widely on the use of intersectionality as a paradigm for health research and policy.

Professor Owen Underhill – collaborator/composer, Professor Underhill is co-Artistic Director and conductor of Turning Point Ensemble, former Artistic Director Vancouver New Music, winner 2007 Western Canadian Music Awards Outstanding Classical Composition, Vice-President Canadian Music Centre, and current Director of the School for the Contemporary Arts at SFU. He has an immense portfolio in composing for orchestra, opera, chamber and choral ensembles, and music for dance and theatre.


Isabella's Dream

"Isabella's Dream is one piece of a larger performance research project, Project Barca. Project Barca engages questions of history and identity in the context of colonialism and thinks critically about encounters with difference in the Americas, generating material from the performers in each specific production as well as in his own research.  This particular title, Isabella’s  Dream, plays with the imagination of the Spanish monarch who helped fund an Italian explorer’s attempt to find a westward trade route to the Indies. The history of the Americas was fundamentally changed by this decision and Professor Daniel’s investigation in part asks us to think about how we as individuals are connected to this fundamental moment."

Jon D. Rossini, Chair, Department of Theatre and Dance,UC Davis

Isabella’s Dream is an interdisciplinary performance work that addresses issues of place, identity, displacement, and belonging in a unique contemporary manner. The cast of performers, all students from a range of disciplines at UC Davis, offer their personal narratives to link the historic events of 1492 to today. In doing so, their actions raise questions concerning the human urge to discover, to adventure, and subsequently to colonize, take a hold of, and/or occupy various new territories, physical, psychological, and otherwise.


Download program


Sephardic Song

                       May 31st - June 11th 2012

Sephardic Song

Rehearsal video from Project Barca – A Creative Preview

Choreography: Henry Daniel

Music: Jordi Saval, Hespérion XXI, La Capella Reial de Catalunya

Performers: Caitlin Griffin, Thoenn Glover, Eloi Homier, Julia Carr, Kyle Toy, Karin Kato, Arash Khakpour.

The Encounters Section of the Project Barca Newsblog

These blog entries describe the editing process of the videos, the choreography process, and other behind-the-scense media.

El Otro Lado

Barca: El Otro Lado (Barca: The Other Side)

November 6th 2012: Nau Ivanow (c/ Honduras, 28-30. Metro Sagrera. Bcn.) (Barcelona, Spain)

December 20th 2012: Institut del Teatre (centre d’Osona). C/ Sant Miquel dels Sants, 20. Vic. (Barcelona, Spain)


The dancers in this work, who all live in Barcelona, offer their personal narratives to question and provoke issues of identity. Using the historic events of 1492 as a reference point, their actions raise questions concerning the human urge to discover, to adventure, and subsequently to colonize, take hold, and/or occupy various new territories, physical, psychological, and emotional.

Barca: El Otro Lado is part of an international performance project involving dancers, musicians, and media artists in Canada and Spain. The title deliberately uses the city of Barcelona as a vehicle, a barca, for new cross-Atlantic voyages of discovery and understanding, connecting to Vancouver, Canada, at the edge of the Pacific. Going west to find east/going east to find west.

download program

Here Be Dragons/Non Plus Ultra

Here Be Dragons / Non Plus Ultra (nothing beyond), January 10th-12th, 2013

Here Be Dragons/Non Plus Ultra is a full length production featuring performers living in Vancouver Canada and Barcelona Spain. It also utilizes material generated in Here Be Dragons..a Creative Preview (2012) and Barca: el otro lado (2012) to create a completely new production.

Here Be Dragons Section of the Project Barca Blog

Here the editing process of the trailer is discussed.


Haikai Section of the Project Barca Blog

This section shows stills from the creation of Hakai, insight into the thoughts of the collaborators. 

"John Cage wrote “Haikai” in response to a concert the Evergreen Club was planning called The Circle Completed, and involved composers like James Tenney and Andrew Timar who were writing music for gamelan and prepared piano. Having already invented the prepared piano (making the piano sound like a gamelan), Cage's contribution to the event was to “prepare” the gamelan by turning gongs upside down, using bass bows and additional techniques. Cage also brought other ideas to bear on the gamelan – the idea of Korean unisons, and a strong structural reference to Japanese poetic form, haiku. The overall impression is like sitting in a most beautiful Zen garden. The piece is performed on the instruments that Cage wrote for and to which the piece is dedicated."

- Jon Siddall, Director - VCC Gamelan Si Pawitt (Musician)

Artistic direction by Henry Daniel



Filmed in the Plaça Sant Felip Neri Implicados reminds us of the atrocities that people inflicted upon one another over the last five and a quarter centuries. Playing on the text uttered by the dancers in the piece, this work is sub-titled "the colonization duet".

Plaça Sant Felip Neri marks the entrance to the Jewish Quarter in Barcelona. And here, in January 1938, a bombing raid by Franko’s fascist army killed 42 people who had sought refuge in the air-raid shelter below the church. Many of the 42 were children from the Sant Felip Neri school.


Ambos Lados


Ambos lados - 2013

This work shares images and texts created during the Research/Creation “Project Barca: New Architectures of Memory and Identity”. The material shown here was originally created for: i) Here be Dragons – A Creative Preview - Vancouver 2012. ii) Encounters – A Video/Audio Installation. Vancouver 2012. iii) Stage production Barca: el otro lado - Barcelona 2013. iv) Stage production Here Be Dragons-Non Plus Ultra - Vancouver 2013.

Voices from the Void/Voces del Vacio

Video from the workshop in Barcelona in August 2012 for Project Barca.
Vídeo del taller en Barcelona en agosto de 2012 para el proyecto Barca

Below, text in Spanish and English.
Abajo, traducción al castellano e inglés.

Voces del vacío/ Voices From the Void
     Me llamo Paula. Soy catalana. Pero mis orígenes son musulmanes. En 1492 los Reyes Católicos obligaron a los musulmanes que vivían en la península a convertirse al https://youtu.be/kXl_1_KwHEQ o a volver a sus países de origen. Mis antepasados decidieron quedarse.  (Catalán)




     My name is Paula. I’m Catalan. But my origins are Muslim. In 1492 the Catholic Monarchs forced the Muslims living in the peninsula to convert to Christianity or return to their home countries. My ancestors decided to stay. (Catalan)


     Júlia. Catalana. Catalana desde siempre, muy catalana, 100% catalana. En 1492 fuimos oprimidos. Todavía lo estamos. (Catalán)

     Júlia. Catalan. Always been Catalan. Very much Catalan. One hundred percent Catalan. In 1492 we were opressed. We still are. (Catalan)


     Mi nombre es Sara Martínez Fernández Calvo Rodriguez Rubio Árias Martínez Rey. Soy de Madrid, pero mi familia viene de Galicia. Mi último apellido, bueno, uno de los últimos, Árias, también viene de Galicia, desde sus inicios. Estuve buscando por... gente que se apellidara Árias o que empezara a tener el nombre de Árias y... fueron personajes principales en la conquista de América. Ellos fueron allí y también algunos regresaron. En América podemos encontrar ríos y ciudades que tienen el nombre de Árias.


     My name is Sara Martínez Fernández Calvo Rodriguez Rubio Árias Martínez Rey. I’m from Madrid, but my family comes from Galicia. My last name, well, one of the latest ones, Árias, also comes from Galicia. From the very beginning. I was looking for people whose last name was Árias, or that they would have that name... and... -they were main characters in  the conquest of America. They went there... and many of them came back. In America we can find rivers and towns called Árias. (Castilian Spanish)


    Carranza. Carranza. Carranza. Chilena, toda mi familia chilena. Pero yo, venezolana. Todos mis ancestros, mis bisabuelos... todos españoles. No me siento en un lugar de origen. Y ese es mi problema. Colón descubrió América, pero no Chile. Y simplemente, se fue. (Español chileno)

     Carranza. Carranza!. Carranza!!.  Chilean. My whole family is Chilean. But me, I’m from Venezuela. All my ancestors, my great grandparents... all Spanish. I don’t feel  like I have a place of origin. And that's my problem. Columbus discovered America, but not Chile. He simply, left. (Chilean Spanish)


     Me llamo Joahn Volmar López.  Mi padre nació en la Guayana francesa, de madre nativa y de padre neoyorquino. Mi madre nació en Argelia, de padres españoles. En 1498, 6 años después de su salida de España, Colón descubrió mi país y lo denominó "la tierra de los parias". Grabado en las memorias, este nombre representa la historia de mi país: una tierra de presos europeos y un sitio de deportados africanos negros, ancestros de mi abuela.  (Español)

      My name is Joahn Volmar López. My father was born in French Guiana, of a native mother and a New Yorker father. My mother was born in Algeria, of Spanish parents. In 1498, six years after his departure from Spain, Columbus discovered my country and called it "the land of the outcasts." Engraved in their memories, this name represents the history of my country: a land of European prisoners and a site for black African deportees, my grandmother’s ancestors. (Spanish)


      Iamin (nombre: árabe) Salcedo (apellido: español). Yo: azteca.  Piel: morena, no. Blanca. (Español)

Iamin, Name?: Arabic. Salcedo, Surname?: Spanish. Me: Aztec. Skin: Brown? No!. White. (Spanish)


     Me llamo Adrià. Mi abuelo es de Côte d’Ivore, África, y tiene 38 hijos, entre ellos mi padre Eme. Mi madre es catalana, y tiene siete hermanos. Pero yo, Adrià, no tengo ninguno.  (Castellano)

    My name is Adrià. My grandfather is from Côte d'Ivoire, Africa, and he has 38 children, including my father Eme. My mother is Catalan, and she has seven brothers and sisters. But I, Adrià, I have none. (Castilian Spanish)


     Yo... no sé muy bien qué lugar decir cuando me preguntan de dónde soy. Mi padre es gallego, mi madre catalana... pero... yo soy Betty. (Castellano)

     I ... I'm not sure which place to say when I'm asked where am I from. My father is Galician, my mother is Catalan... but ... I'm Betty. (Castilian Spanish)


     Elena Schisano, Italiana. Mis antepasados sufrieron la dominación Española. Mis padres se conocieron en América, pero retornaron a sus orígenes, nuestros orígenes, napolitanos. Yo, no obstante... yo vivo en Barcelona. (Italiano)

    Elena Schisano, Italian. My ancestors suffered Spanish domination. My parents met in America, but returned to their roots, our origins, Neapolitans. I, however ... I live in Barcelona. (Italian)


      Idália. Catalana. La madre catalana. El padre vasco. La abuela vasca. Pero ellos no saben vasco. Y yo tampoco. (Catalán) 
      Idália. Catalan. Mother: Catalan. Father: Basque. Grandmother: Basque. But they don’t speak Basque.  And I don’t either. (Catalan)

        Bushido pone el énfasis en la lealtad, el sacrificio, la justicia, los buenos modales, la pureza, el honor, el afecto, etc. (Japonés)
      Bushido puts emphasis on loyalty, self-sacrifice, justice, refined manners, purity, modesty, honor, affection, etc. (Japanese)