plastic orchid factory

about

plastic orchid factory is an artist-run organism that uses the body as a site for social commentary. Created in 2008 by James Gnam and Natalie LeFebvre Gnam, plastic orchid makes, supports and advocates for divergent art works that are pluralistic in practice and in form. plastic orchid prioritizes inclusive approaches that blend genres and facilitate research, collaboration, exchange and the development of new frameworks for making and experiencing art.  

During its eleven year history, plastic orchid factory has devised over 20 original works that have been presented in both formal and unconventional spaces. This body of work has been supported by The Vancouver Art Gallery, The New Forms Festival, Will Aballe Art Projects, The Capture Festival, The Facade Festival, The Belkin Gallery, The Dance Centre, EDAM dance, Circuit-Est (Montréal), Opera Estate (Bassano Italy), Electric Company Theatre, The Vancouver East Cultural Centre, The Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, Boca del Lupo, The Vancouver International Dance Festival,10 Gates Dancing and The National Arts Centre. 

In 2017, plastic orchid created Left of Main, an artist-run space dedicated to the live arts, located in Vancouver’s Historic Chinatown. plastic orchid continues to seek out and develop facilities and systems that move outside of traditional forms of production and dissemination. 

plastic orchid factory acknowledges that we are on the unceded, ancestral and traditional Coast Salish territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and səlil̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) people. As artists that live, work and play on these lands, we strive to be allies with, to learn from, and to acknowledge the rights of indigenous peoples. 

artists

artistic director, choreographer, collaborator & performer // James Gnam is a dance artist based in Vancouver and Montreal. He is the artistic director of plastic orchid factory, a founding member of Left of Main as well as an associate artist with MAYDAY and Grand Poney. He trained at the National Ballet School of Canada and from 1998 to the present, has performed in the works of Crystal Pite, Twyla Tharp, Mark Morris, Jiri Kylian, Barak Marshall and collaborated in the creation of new work with Lee Su-Feh, Jacques Poulin-Denis, Melanie Demers, Vanessa Goodman, Evann Siebens, Peter Bingham and Tedd Robinson. With plastic orchid, James collaboratively devises interdisciplinary work that focuses the body as a site of social commentary. James’ research and performance have been supported by Opera Estate in Bassano Italy; Circuit-Est in Montreal; Centre Q and the National Arts Centre in Ottawa; Electric Company Theatre, The New Forms Festival, The Vancouver Art gallery, The Burrard Arts Foundation/Facade Festival, The Belkin Gallery and SFU/W in Vancouver. In 2010, the late Lola Maclaughlin nominated James and his wife Natalie for the City of Vancouver’s Mayor’s Arts Award for Dance.

artistic producer, collaborator & performer // Natalie LeFebvre Gnam is a dance artist, educator, mother and artistic producer. She studied at L’École supérieure de danse du Québec, in Montréal and since 1994, has worked with companies and artists across Canada including, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal, Coleman Lemieux & Co. and The Vancouver Opera. Natalie collaborates, performs in and produces the projects of plastic orchid factory, teaches bilingual movement classes across BC and is Financial Operations Manager for Dusty Flowerpot Cabaret and the chair of the Training Society of Vancouver. She has worked across disciplines with DanceHouse, The Cultch, Théâtre la Seizième and Fight With a Stick. In 2009, Natalie was awarded the Isadora Award and with James Gnam, was nominated by the late Lola Maclaughlin for the City of Vancouver’s Mayor’s Arts Award for Emerging Dance. In 2017, she led plastic orchid’s work in establishing Left of Main, a creator hub for the live arts. Natalie lives and works in Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish Territory.

scenography & costume design // Natalie Purschwitz is an interdisciplinary artist based in Vancouver, Canada. Her work seeks out spaces between art, design, performance and daily life. Her curiosities include anthropology, the notion of survival, clothing as a type of cultural production, language and mythology. Natalie shows her artwork internationally, designs costumes for a wide range of productions and maintains a small clothing line called Hunt & Gather. In 2010 she completed Makeshift (a yearlong endeavour to wear only things that she made herself), a project that received worldwide attention and press. She has studied at the University of Calgary (BA, Archaeology) the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Art and Science (NY, NY) and Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design (BFA, Media Arts). She recently returned from Paris where she was an artist in residence at La Cité Internationale des Arts as a recipient of the Canada Council for the Arts International Residency award.

lighting design, collaborator & performer // Originally from Edinburgh, Scotland, James Proudfoot has been living in Vancouver since 1993.  For twelve years he was the resident Technical Director at the Firehall Arts Centre.  He is a much sought-after designer and has created lighting for many dance and theatre companies including; Lola Dance, Co. Erasga, battery opera, Kinesis Dance, Holy Body Tattoo, Anatomica,, Les Productions Figlio, plastic orchid factory, Trial & Eros, Ballet BC as well as The Firehall Theatre Company. 

collaborator & performer // Evann Siebens makes media with movement. She has exhibited at galleries such as Eyebeam and Centre Pompidou, while her documentaries have screened at MOMA and on PBS. A former dancer with the National Ballet of Canada and Bonn Ballet, Evann graduated from New York University. Now based in Vancouver, she has participated in residencies at the Banff Centre, Frankfurt Ballett and ACMELondon. Evann recently exhibited a geodesic dome and 360 projection at the Belkin Gallery in Vancouver, and also screened a commissioned work on the exterior of the Vancouver Art Gallery. She showed a moving triptych billboard as part of Capture’s Photography Festival and also performed live with her media at New Media Gallery and the Western Front, Vancouver. She is represented by Wil Aballe Art Projects in Vancouver.

collaborator & performer // Kevin Legere has written, performed and produced audio for various music, dance and film projects. Kevin’s most successful project was a live electronic band called Death to Sexy. Death to Sexy was featured on Much Musics 'The Wedge' and hit Earshot’s top 20 electronic charts following the release of their self titled album ‘Fall of the Prom Queen’. Recently Kevin has been researching the interaction between music, abstract themes and technology. It is here is where he has found new ways to construct and deconstruct sound. During this time Kevin has been collaborating with the Plastic Orchid Factory in order to explore these concepts more deeply. 

collaborator & performer // Nancy Tam is a sound artist who uses sound and performance as primary mediums to making interdisciplinary performances. She composes with the Toronto based Toy Piano Composers collective since its inception in 2008. Her compositions and performances have toured in Germany, Denmark, the U.S. and throughout Canada. As a performance maker, Nancy works closely with Fight With A Stick performance company with whom she devised and collaborated on the Critic’s Choice Award winning show Revolutions in 2017. At present, Nancy is focused on creating work with her performance collective A Wake of Vultures in Vancouver.

collaborator & performer // Vanessa Goodman is Artistic Director of Action at a Distance and Co-Artistic Director of The Contingency Plan. She holds a BFA from SFU and was the recipient of the 2013 Iris Garland Choreographer Award. Vanessa has worked with a number of Vancouver companies including; the plastic orchid factory, dancers dancing, Mascall Dance and dumb instrument dance. She has been commissioned by DOTE, The Gwaii Trust, Vancouver Biennale, Modus Operandi, Lamon Dance, Warehause Collective and SFU. Recently her work has been presented nationally and internationally by Northwest New Works, Risk/Reward, The Chutzpah! Festival, The Canada Dance Festival, The Dance Centre, The Firehall Arts Centre, PuSh Off, Small Stage and The Shadbolt Centre for the Arts.

collaborator & performer // Jane Osborne is a contemporary dance artist, fully-certified Pilates instructor and Co-Artistic Director of The Contingency Plan. Since graduating from Simon Fraser University with a BFA in Dance, she has continued her training both at home and abroad, including four months in Europe with a focused period of training in Brussels, and in NYC where she attended the Gaga Intensive. As an interpreter, Jane has worked independently with Justine A. Chambers, Tara Cheyenne Performance, 605 Collective/Theatre Replacement, Dancers Dancing, Action at a Distance, Co. Erasga, Rob Kitsos, the plastic orchid factory, Vancouver Opera, and Wild Excursions Performance, among others. In her own practice Jane is drawn to the collision between dance and theatre- the place where poetry, image and the body intersect -and the potential for the personal to speak universally.

production & technical director // Jonathan Kim is a lighting designer, technical director, technician and photographer based in Vancouver, BC. He holds a BFA in Theatre Production and Design from SFU’s School for the Contemporary Arts. His most recent works include: Crow’s Nest and Other Places She’s Gone (by Olivia C. Davies), Only Drunks and Children Tell the Truth (by The Firehall Arts Centre) and Soft Face and Featherless (by Elysse Cheadle). He is a Jessie Richardson Theatre Award nominee in [Outstanding Lighting Design – Small Theatre] for his work on: The City & The City (by Upintheair Theatre and The Only Animal), and The Nether (by Redcurrant Collective).

set design // Paula Viitanen Aldazosa is currently based in Vancouver, BC, is a versatile theatre deviser. She is a professional carpenter holding a degree in Industrial Joinery from Helsinki, Finland, as well as a BFA  in Theatre: Production and Design from Simon Fraser University.  Having worked as a head carpenter, technical director, stage manager, and designer on numerous productions in the Vancouver area, she has gathered wide-ranging experiences and expertise from the performing arts industry. Recent selected work includes Topophilia (Set Design, SFU, Vancouver) Cinerama (Technical Direction, Fight With a Stick, Vancouver), Between Two Rocks (Technical Direction, Macromatter, Taipei/Vancouver), Romeo + Juliet (Set Design, SFU, Vancouver), Repertory Dancers: 5 New Workds (Light Design, SFU, Vancouver), and Revolutions (Stage Management, Fight With a Stick).

Left of Main

Since 2013, plastic orchid factory has spearheaded a cultural space development project on behalf of the independent dance community in Vancouver and beyond. Natalie instigated two planning projects, which led to the acquisition of a 1,500 sq. ft space in the former Park Lock Dim Sum restaurant in Vancouver’s Historic Chinatown. She and James managed the major capital renovation and recent capacity upgrade. Left of Main opened its door in April 2017 and welcomes over 4,000 audience annually. The project has received support from the City of Vancouver’s Cultural Infrastructure Grant Program, Canada Council for the Arts’ Leadership for Change, Canadian Heritage’s Cultural Spaces Fund, Western Economic Diversification’s Canada 150 and was one of only 13 projects from across BC to receive funding from BC Collaborative Spaces. Left of Main is located at 211 Keefer Street, on the second floor and is currently shared with MACHiNENOiSY and Tara Cheyenne Performance. 

board of directors

Board of Directors 

Chair - Nathan Medd - Managing Director of Performing Arts, Banff Centre for the Arts and Creativity 

Secretary/Treasurer - Judy Haranghy - Consultant IT Specialist

Director - Kevin Legere - Senior Product Design/Productivity Management, ACL

Director - Alexandra Bouchard - Freelance Writer and Editor 

Member at Large - David McIntosh - Artistic Producer, battery opera performance