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Reviews

 

Festival Roundup

Dancing on the Edge: Festival of Contemporary Dance By Eury Chang

Since 1988, the Dancing on the Edge festival (DOTE) has been presented at the Firehall Arts Centre and a growing number of partner venues throughout Vancouver. As the city’s longest-running contemporary dance festival, DOTE serves the professional dance milieu through an eclectic program consisting of full-length, mixed bill and site-specific dance works. This year a mixture of emerging, established, local and visiting dancers took to the stage and, like previous years, there seemed to be no particular or overarching aesthetic. However, it would be safe to say that innovative, experimental and works-in-progress foregrounded the entire event. I ventured out to view a handful of such works, which left me with the some lasting impressions.

 

Stretch

Dancing Between Boundaries at SummerWorks By Kathleen Smith SummerWorks Performance Festival

Dance and dancers were all over this August’s two-week SummerWorks Festival in Toronto – yet they weren’t only dancing. Within the festival framework, the sensibilities of these artists, their respective positions concerning tradition, technology, engagement and cross-disciplinary collaboration, became highlighted in a provocative and energetic way.

 

A Difficult Dance: Radical Ballet and the Politics of Reception

By Marie France Forcier Red Light Green Light: radical ballet

Five guys. Playing games. What is going on in their minds?­ These production taglines for DNA Theatre’s newest radical ballet were the extent of the dramaturgical information available for the audience to process Red Light Green Light.

 

Peggy Baker’s Gallery: Considering land | body | breath at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Peggy Baker Dance Projects By Ben Portis land / body / breath Peggy Baker Dance Projects

In May 2014, Peggy Baker’s land | body | breath was performed in the Thomson Collection galleries of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Reviewer Ben Portis contextualizes the work, by considering Baker’s extensive performance history at the gallery.

 

Test

By Kate Morris Vancouver Queer Film Festival

Frankie, the newest and youngest member of an exciting contemporary dance company, lives in fear and dread. At work he’s mocked by the choreographer and told to “dance like a man.” Outside of work the city offers no relief: a newspaper headline asks “Should Gays Be Quarantined?” and fresh graffiti screams “AIDS Faggot Die!” The year is 1985, the place San Francisco, and the epidemic has just begun. With his bright yellow Walkman clipped on his belt, Frankie retreats into a music-filled trance.

 

Room with Sticks

Tedd Robinson, Ame Henderson and Charles Quevillon By Philip Szporer Room with Sticks Festival TransAmériques 2014

The first thing that struck me about Room with Sticks was the space. The locale, Espace Libre, a former fire station and once home to famed Carbone 14, was transformed into an intimate, open and very white space. (The piece has also been presented in a curling arena.) The back wall was entirely covered over in white paper, while dried branches, sticks and blocks of wood were spread out over the floor. Neon lighting gave the space an artificial glow.

 

No Blessed Light

By Lucy M. May Au sein des plus raides vertus Festival TransAmériques 2014

I leave the theatre after Catherine Gaudet’s Au sein des plus raides vertus needing to move on and to be alone. The same feeling befell me following Je suis un autre, her 2012 piece, which shares many of the same structures and compositional elements. However, the effect of this new piece on me is much darker. It’s as if I have just witnessed an incomplete exorcism.

 

Antigone Sr.

Trajal Harrell By Philip Szporer Twenty Looks or Paris Is Burning at the Judson Church (L) Festival TransAmériques 2014

As choreographer Trajal Harrell tells the audience at the start of the show, his series Twenty Looks or Paris Is Burning at the Judson Church, comes in eight sizes. We were about to see Antigone Sr., which is the large variety. Regardless of the size, the proposition remains the same: “What would have happened in 1963 if a voguer from a New York house ball strutted downtown to Greenwich Village from Harlem to perform alongside the collective of Judson Church postmodernists?”

 

Klumzy

Nicolas Cantin with Ashlea Watkin By Philip Szporer Klumzy Festival TransAmériques 2014

Nicolas Cantin seems to like things to percolate. In Klumzy, everything is set on a low simmer. The choreographer embraces a gentleness of spirit – something that he’s adopted in his work since last year’s CHEESE, a piece that grappled with ideas about memory.

 

Frolicking through History

Meg Stuart / Damaged Goods By George Stamos Built to Last Festival TransAmériques 2014

Time flies during American choreographer and dancer Meg Stuart’s masterfully crafted two-hour-long Built to Last. It’s a sophisticated piece crossing boundaries between theatre, dance and performance art. Travelling through time as movement aesthetics shift across eras, and swinging between everyday attitudes and extravagant fantasylands where abstract dance sections are executed with precision, but formality dissolves into moments of humour and vulnerability.

 

Eat All You Want/The Top?

Gearshifting Performance Works By Holly Harris Eat All You Want/The Top?

In her latest offering, the cryptically titled Eat All You Want/The Top?, Jolene Bailie invites her viewers to step into a cake-fuelled world straddling both theatre and dance.

 

Creaturely Empathy: Intimacy, Sensation & Duration

Antonija Livingstone with Jennifer Lacey, Dominique Pétrin, Stephen Thompson By Lucy M. May Culture, Administration & Trembling Festival TransAmériques 2014

Through the backstage area, we tiptoe in our socks into L’Agora de la danse. It has become a de facto gallery space for the performance of Culture, Administration & Trembling. Europe-based, North American choreographers Antonija Livingstone and Jennifer Lacey, with Dominique Pétrin and Stephen Thompson, are at once its curators and its artists.

 

Dancing with the Devil-May-Care

Generations of Dance at Old & Young and Reckless Together (#32) By Marie France Forcier Edition # 32 - Old & Young and Reckless Together

Older & Reckless, veteran dance artist Claudia Moore’s brainchild, is celebrating the launch of its fifteenth season, and the crowd’s appreciation for the long-running series is palpable and contagious.

 

The Subtlety of Solitude in Solitudes Solo

By George Stamos Solitudes Solo Festival TransAmériques 2014

It’s been said that placing classical music in a performance will bring it instant cultural value. It’s a device often used in dance and performance milieus. However, in contemporary dance it can be a problematic choice, as the work will undoubtedly inherit the cultural context of the classical reference and challenge the contemporaneity of the dance.

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