Vancouver International Dance Festival
Italian-born and Munich-based, Yvonne Pouget has developed a reputation as one of Europe's leading choreographers. Her skills were very much in evidence on March 5, when she performed Il viaggio – la smorfia della vita (which translates as 'The Journey—The Lottery of Life'), a work built around “la smorfia,” a mysterious divination tool that originates in Naples.
As part of the 2011 Vancouver International Dance Festival, Battery Opera offered a duet simply titled "Lee Su-Feh and Chung Jung-Ah," which is inspired by "the encounter by two women [...] with hyphens in their names." I entered into the evening thinking "this is a pretty abstract point of entry into a non-verbal work of art -- practically speaking, what does this mean?"
My final stop in this dance marathon was Evidence, A Dance Company, which features choreographer and Artistic Director Ronald K. Brown, who has choreographed for the likes of the Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre. Based in Brooklyn, Evidence, A Dance Company fuses traditional African dance with contemporary choreography, the result of which is an original, colourful and vibrant rendition of the struggles, tragedies and triumphs of the human experience. Moreover, this company seeks to bring African American culture and African rhythms to a variety of audiences, and they do so with rare beauty and power.
I followed up these two voyages into excellence with a rude awakening, something of a descent into disappointment and even irritation when I went to see VIDF’s presentation of Kickstart, a series that features artists with various mobility issues. The first piece, Geometry of the Circle choreographed by Peggy Baker, featured dancer Alison Denham along with Mark Brose, a Toronto-based musician who has MS and gets around in a wheelchair. Throughout the piece, Brose’s abstract vocalizations were mingled with Denham’s graceful dancing as the two engaged in a duet that explored the creativity that can emerge from a relationship. This creative piece seemed to be, at least in part, a quirky love story that took two very different types of art and merged them into a dialogue that was at times comical and at times filled with longing. While these themes and emotions emerged clearly from the piece, I simply did not experience this piece as a very cohesive one.
My next night out took me to see New Zealand's powerhouse of a company, Black Grace. This show was a mixed repertoire show that included 7 fairly short pieces all created by the company’s Artistic Director, Neil leremia. The company of extraordinarily athletic dancers took to the stage, devouring the space with what felt like an explosive energy and a voracious appetite. What was immediately striking about these dancers is their exceptional level of commitment to every aspect of the dance: physical and spiritual and their extraordinary ability to coordinate speed and grace while maintaining a high standard of unison and technical excellence. The first piece, Fa’a Ulutao used five male dancers, and the combination of their radiant vitality and the nearly primordial sounding drum music drew me well into the dynamic and vigorous world of this company.
Out Innerspace Dance offered by far the most dynamic interpretation of the love, sex, and death themes that were the subject of the VIDF's free performances this year. David Raymond and Tiffany Tregarthen have a powerful rapport, and their vocabulary is intricate, intimate, and refined. The performance lived up to the company name, in that movements implied a physical and an emotional space simultaneously.
The Brooklyn dance company, Evidence, lives up to its name. Talk about giving a lesson in showing, not telling.
The founder and artistic director of the 25-year-old company, Ronald K. Brown, has said he uses movement, sound and storytelling to stage the histories, tragedies and triumphs of the African Diaspora. What else is dance if not the human experience put to rhythm?
On March 16, Flamenco Rosario offered audiences a look at the second installation of L.S.D., a work in progress that will culminate in a 2011 collaborative performance with Kokoro Dance.
Toronto Dance Theatre's Dis/(sol/ve)r explored gendered movement in ways that were thoughtful, impassioned, and unironic. A great deal of dance that I have seen lately has tended towards the cerebral, the conceptual, or the exceedingly technocratic, and so although a lack of irony can seem risky in this day and age, it was refreshing to watch a performance that dispensed with gimmicks and stated it's themes directly.
There was a rush of darkness and sound to welcome us in to the primordial soup and then….
A First Back appeared – and the wonder of it all !! A clavicular face !! Awash in light in the bottom corner of a gigantic back drop. An engulfing appliqué notion of decay, of mountain ranges, shimmering. Subdued. Earthen ground.