plastic orchid factory

Digital Folk

sally field project
Digital Folk is an immersive installation by the interdisciplinary artists of plastic orchid factory that explores the strange and beautiful lines between the virtual and the real.
— Erika Thorkelson - Vancouver Sun

Digital Folk is a video game + costume party + music and dance performance + installation built around the desire to revisit how communities gather to play music, dance and tell stories. It is an interdisciplinary collaboration between dance artist, James Gnam, visual artist, Natalie Purschwitz, lighting designer, James Proudfoot and 10 dance artists that explores a generation’s approach to identity, physicality, social dance and performance. Digital Folk lives as a scale model built out of an in-between world that is not quite a home and not quite a theatre. Where the desire for music, dance and community is focused through the lens of video game culture to create an irreverent and interactive world of virtual and physical community, feedback and paradox.

Concept / creative direction — James Gnam

Scenography / costume design — Natalie Purschwitz

Lighting design — James Proudfoot

Sound design — Kevin Legere

Choreography / performance — Shion Carter, Rachel Helten, Natalie LeFebvre Gnam, James Gnam, Kayla DeVos, Vanessa Goodman, Rachel Maddock, Lexi Vajda & Lorenz Santos

Producer / media relations — Natalie LeFebvre Gnam

Associate producer — Kayla Devos

Lighting adaptation / stage management — Jonathan Kim

Set build — Stuart Sproule

Set design assistant — Candy Wang

Graphic design — Ahmed Khalil & Deanna Peters/Mutable Subject

Past collaborators - Clare Twiddy, Siobhan Sloane-Seale, Rob Abubo, Walter Kubanek, Jane Osborne, Dario Dinuzzi, Bevin Poole Leinweber, Diego Romero, , Hannah Jackson, Rachel Silver & Kim Plough

I Miss Doing Nothing

“Watching James and Natalie feel their way into how something felt, the slow and often surprising real-time discovery […] imbues time with a layered, ludic quality, in which the past and present can be made to touch.”

"Time is so weird now. It feels faster. Thicker. More gets done in less time and because of this, more is expected in less time. But also, there is less time spent doing nothing. This speeding up is something we noticed in the late 90’s when we bought computers and opened hotmail accounts and it’s something that has gained momentum when we moved those computers into our pockets. It’s also something that we have profoundly felt as our family grew from two, to three, and then four. Part of this acceleration is natural and has been felt by parents since the dawn of time, but the other part of it is very new. As dance artists our relationships to time, memory and activity is precisely trained and tuned and we wanted to use that sensitivity to shape a work that could explore different ways of feeling time move through us. Could we create an environment that invites and engages, but also creates space for focus to wander, to get lost and then to come back? Could we use plastic orchid factory’s body of work in conjunction with the imperfect nature of memory to shape a dance that is rhythmically sourced in our physiology? Could we devise a piece that asks us to rediscover how to do nothing?" — Natalie and James

plastic orchid factory, marked its 10th anniversary with a new work, i miss doing nothing, created and directed by Natalie LeFebvre Gnam and James Gnam, in collaboration with Nancy Tam, James Proudfoot and Vanessa Goodman. 

Performed at Left of Main over four summer afternoons, i miss doing nothing is a 3-hour living installation layering dance, memory, sound, light and architecture. The work asks if we can perceive the passage of time differently. 

We live in a moment where time seems to have accelerated, constant activity and availability is the rule and not the exception. i miss doing nothing is an immersive performance that responds to the values and the impact of living in continuous action by creating an environment that asks us to focus on the spaces in between activities. Space, sound and movement are organized around the rhythms of memory, breath and patience in order to focus the sensation of time passing within our bodies and imaginations.

Creation and performance — Natalie LeFebvre Gnam, James Gnam, James Proudfoot, Vanessa Goodman

Sound design — Nancy Tam

Set design — Paula Viitanen Aldazosa

Where This Lives Now

where this lives now began in 2014 when Tedd Robinson shared his nearly 4 decades of dance archives with 6 choreographers from across Canada. The process unfolded at Tedd’s farm in Quyon Quebec with an understanding that dance is an oral and kinaesthetic tradition. A tradition that moves from one generation to another through action and conversation, contemplation and process. The objective was to move these archives from DVD and VHS and into the bodies and imaginations of another generation of dance artists. The end result was FACETS, which premiered at the National Arts Centre in May 2015.

But, for Tedd, the legacy of the work was not in the final showing but in how those conversations, impulses and memories lived on in the creative practices of the dancers who shared the process with him. where this lives now is a continuation of this conversation where Angie Cheng and James Gnam explore the nature of legacy in dance. Rediscovering the archives and how they live on, distilled and imperfectly transformed through memory as a starting point. Angie and James work with time, space and transformation to (re)frame questions, concerns and aesthetics of another generation within the context of the present.  

Creation — Angie Cheng, James Gnam and Tedd Robinson

Performance — Angie Cheng and James Gnam

Collaborators — Ame Henderson, Riley Sims, Simon Renaud, Charles Quevillon & Paul Chambers

 where this lives now is a co-production between plastic orchid factory and 10 Gates Dancing. The work has been generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, The BC Arts Council, The Ontario Arts Council, The City of Ottawa, Left of Main, Centre Q and The National Arts Centre.


THE 3 OBSTRUCTIONS is a platform designed for supportive discussion among peers about each other’s work and practices, with the aim of testing the theory that creativity feeds on limitations. Modelled loosely on Lars van Trier’s film, The 5 Obstructions, and the Obstructions series produced by the indie theatre community a few years back, the project’s goal is to move critical discourse into tangible action, while emphasizing risk-taking and experimentation with new forms of making dance. The driving impulse behind this initiative has been to engage in critical, objective (and subjective) discourse about each others’ work. 

In the Spring of 2017, plastic orchid factory along with MACHiNENOiSY, Dumb Instrument Dance and The Contingency Plan began the first iteration of THE 3 OBSTRUCTIONS and have found that the perspectives shared not only confirm each unique artistic vision and practice, but also generate questions that create tensions (obstacles) specifically designed to help each other to push beyond boundaries. The project has offered a provocative environment, one in which we challenge ourselves and each other, without inhibition, towards the evolution of craft and artistic practice. It has been invigorating, challenging, exciting and at times scary. But, it has been a process that has enlivened our artistic practices, while at the same time nourishing our sense of solidarity within our creative community.

While the thrust of this project is to encourage and empower the artists involved, it will also function as a means to have a larger discussion around practice, process, aesthetics and form with the creative community and the community at large in Vancouver.



REMIX is intended to be a procedural collapse of dance practice in order to build up new energy and shared perspectives through subjective filters and interests. Entirely artist-led, this dance dialogue and dramaturgy initiative invites dance artists from across the country to come together in Vancouver to share their practices in the context of a process-prioritizing, creative exchange.

The pilot took place in June 2018, bringing Vancouver-based choreographers Vanessa Goodman and Diego Romero together with Toronto's Ame Henderson and Montreal’s Rob Abubo. 

The paired artists worked at Left of Main to discuss and unpack the aesthetics, objectives, obstacles and concerns that underpinned one existing work respectively and invited the other artist to re-work and re-imagine their proposition using any and all tools necessary.

In partnership with The Training Society of Vancouver, a daily morning practice was hosted at Left of Main. Led by the artists and open to public to attend for free. They offered systems and strategies that prepared the body and the imagination for remixing by practicing remixing in a practice setting. There was lots of doing and talking and doing. 

A relaxed sharing and social was held on Saturday, June 30 @ Left of Main from 7 to 9pm. The next iteration will take place June 7-20, 2020 @ Left of Main.

Dance/Songs by Ame Henderson (REMiXED by Vanessa Goodman)

Dance/Songs like a good rock concert, flirts with obscenity. It can be over-the-top and out-of- control. The performers let it all out in front of the crowd. It is abandoned and joyful, intimate and tender. The work disrupts the dance concert with wit, energy and excess.

Concept by Ame Henderson. Music by Eric Craven. Created with and performed by Chad Dembski, Claudia Fancello and Matija Ferlin. Video by Daniel Arcé. Design by Trevor Schwellnus. Dramaturgy by Jacob Zimmer. Costumes by Cathia Pagotto. Produced by Public Recordings. A DanceWorks CoWorks Series Event. Developed in residence at Le Groupe Dance Lab, Feb 2006. Photos by Liam Maloney.

Container by Vanessa Goodman (REMiXED by Ame Henderson)

“Container” is my first solo and is a defining piece for me. In a broad sense, the title is a reference to my physical body as the container of my identity and the cultural past I inherited. Despite its deeply personal inspiration, I consciously choose not to put a finite interpretation on the work, which allows it to become an interesting Rorschach test for the audience. 

Choreographer/Performer Vanessa Goodman. Lighting Design James Proudfoot. Original sound/Existing sound Loscil. Existing sound The Barry Sisters. Sound Arrangement Vanessa Goodman

It Was/Wasn't All Worth It by Diego Romero and Ileanna Cheladyn (REMiXED by Rob Abubo)

It Was/Wasn't All Worth It. Was a piece made by Diego Romero and Ileanna Cheladyn over the duration of 3 years.

The work began with something complicated and became much more simple. I think it ended up just being a  'thank you'.

 It was also a playlist, and it was lots of fun.    

dedications by Rob Abubo (REMiXED by Diego Romero)

Concept Rob Abubo. Music by Brian Eno. Choreography by hofesh. Created by Ellen Furrey, Amanda acorn, Simon Portigal, and Simon Renauld at Dancemakers.

remember when

remember when peels away the layers of the performers experience of performing.  Though repetition and accumulation, the audience witnesses the dancers building and transforming meaning by re-focusing the stage perspective with two moving cameras and two stationary projectors. remember when invites and implicates the audience on a journey of collective and individual memory making.

a brilliant meditation on ephemerality, memory and the body. Remember When insightfully unpacks the layers of mediation – technological and otherwise – in dance, by repeatedly performing bits of past repertoire.
— Sarah Todd - The Dance Current

Commissioned for EDAM dance choreographic series

Choreography — James Gnam

Performance — Natalie LeFebvre Gnam/Lina Fitzner, Bevin Poole and James Gnam

Lighting — James Proudfoot

Media — Josh Hite 

Music — Kevin Legere


_post is a interdisciplinary work that frames the beauty and cultural disconnect between classical ballet and western Canada.  Four classical dancers, a deconstructed piano score and the unexpected use of ballet’s iconic tulle and pointe shoes create a thought-provoking and visually stunning examination of beauty, nobility, partnership and power.

_post, and Gnam, are pushing the form and stepping into visual new realms—mismatched footwear and all.
— Janet Smith - Georgia Straight

Choreography — James Gnam 

Performance — Bevin Poole, Ali Denham/Lara Barclay, Natalie LeFebvre Gnam and James Gnam

Dramaturgy — Daelik

Costumes — Kate Burrows

Music — Kenneth Kirschner, Taylor Deupree and Kevin Legere 

Lighting — James Proudfoot

Rehearsal direction — Vanessa Goodman


art is either a compliant or do something else

art is either a complaint or do something else was created in response to an interview that painter, Jasper Johns had done with Mark Rosenthal that dealt with the creation of a painting. Specifically, it questioned the painter’s relationship to representation and how he addresses space and time within his compositions.As a dance artist, I am concerned with representation, embodiment and composition in space and in time and so, I was attracted to this piece. In 2004, I organized a draft of art is either for two dancers. Over the years, plastic orchid has performed varied versions of this work. With questions sitting at the centre of the score, every incarnation of art is either a complaint or do something else is different. It has developed into a tool that re-focuses our practice every time we perform as it asks us consider our relationship to composition. Specifically, how we weave relationships between our bodies and the sonic environment to create and transform ephemeral moments of representation in space over time.

Commissioned by The New Forms Festival

Choreography — James Gnam 

Performance — Natalie LeFebvre Gnam, Bevin Poole

Composer — John Cage 

Media — Josh Hite / Evann Siebens