Jan 24

Getting Down with Dan Mangan: The musician chats about taking part in the Walrus Talks

by Jenna Shummoogum · 12 comments

The Walrus Talks, as part of the High Performance Rodeo is an evening of thought provoking ideas.

“Part of our mandate as an educational foundation is to promote matter that are vital to Canadians,” explains David Leonard, director of events and special projects. The Walrus foundation does that through The Walrus magazine, but the Walrus talks was born a year ago. The idea is “to get smart people, put them on a stage, and gather them around a topic that matters”. Last year, a panel discussed ‘Art of the City’ and this year, it’s all about performance. The Walrus Foundation is “trying to elevate the level of conversation on a particular topic,” Leonard says.

This year’s panel includes David Ben, Ross Hornby, Will Ferguson, Clara Hughes, Jay Ingram, Jim Little, Chief Wilton Littlechild and Dan Mangan. Each panelist gets seven minutes to explore their area of performance. “We’re not talking about in the typical way you would define it,” Leonard states, “we want to define performance in [the broader sense]. How we measure it.”

Panelists get seven minutes because it’s long enough to say something but short enough that you have to be succinct. “We really make them get to it,” says Leonard, “they really have to be on point.”

Only seven minutes to make your point? It may be a little daunting. Musician Dan Mangan is a little intimidated, “I can perform playing music in front of large crowds of people and not feel anxious at all,” he says, “but this has been on my mind, because it’s something different and something new.” Mangan has done a couple of speaking events in the past, but feels that this one is more developed and is putting more time into it. “I like the idea that I’m not all that comfortable [and] I’m just going to do it anyway”

Without revealing his entire speech Mangan explains that he wants to talk about the “chemistry that makes up a moment” within performance. He will delve into the “moment of unconsciousness, [the] moment of connection.” It’s something that him and his band-mates discuss in regard to music all the time. “You [have to] have a philosophy about how and why you’re performing and what the goal is,” says Mangan, “I can’t really imagine not having a philosophy about it. It’s also something that’s kind of dangerous,” he adds, “there is this kind of intangible mystery [as] to why something is working and if you try and narrow in and focus on that element, you run the risk of destroying [it].”

“I think that it doesn’t matter if it’s in music or any other kind of format, the moment that you think you’ve got it figured out and you’re really great, is the moment where you start getting worst.” Mangan concludes.

Mangan is jumping on board because he is excited about “the premise of an intellectual format [where] we can all learn something from each other. I like the public meeting of minds,” he states.

Creating a greater dialogue is something that Leonard is hoping for. He’s hoping that the conversation will move beyond the auditorium.

The Walrus Talks, as part of the High Performance Rodeo takes place on Tuesday, January 29th. Tickets are still available online. Thanks to everyone who participated in our contest, and congratulations to our winner.

Photo Credit: Jonathon Taggart

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