Does the modern world disappoint you at times? Especially when a consumerist society suggests that bought beauty is equal to integrity? Or when liberalism (a big hug to JS Mill) has been subverted by infantilism?

Does it annoy you that you are part of a culture where people claim all their pleasures (rights) and dodge their pains (responsibilities and misfortunes) while masking their feelings in irony?

If so, let me refer you to the writings of ancient peoples, who (without the calming distraction of cars, electricity, MP3s and email) sought to explain and account for the terrifying vagaries of the...

Vaughn Jones & Leslie Brownlee as Eros & Psyche - the perfect couple. Photo: Pink Monkey

For the second review in a row I have to issue a spoiler warning (ironically, for similar reasons). So, if you’re seeing Crush stop reading, immediately.

We’re in small city in Ontario, we’re in a trailer park. It’s the mid-nineties but it might as well be the mid-eighties. Crush is a coming out play and yes, depressingly, the gay guy must die. Twice I’ve had to endure this in one afternoon here in Toronto. What on earth is going on? I don’t doubt the sincerity of these playwrights but really, what is going on?


Crush, dangerous triangle

This is only my second dance review for Plank. With the first one, I neatly got out of any detailed analysis by talking about Areosia’s Cumulus in broad terms. I couldn’t actually see Cumulus so couldn’t comment on its shortcomings or strengths as a dance piece.

Edge 4 provides a different challenge. A program of three works all unapologetically within the contemporary dance tradition. No tricky technology, no circus performers, no hoops of fire, simply young dancers dancing on the uncluttered, open space of the Firehall stage.

So, what to do? I’m a playwright. All my foibles are contained in...

Lunar Rouge, The Tomorrow Collective; photo: Chris Randle

It’s a mystery. Why does pure choreography sometimes create its own meaning, and other times leave you craving for context? For many in contemporary dance, the ideal is to let the movement speak for itself.

When it works, it can be ecstatic – identification with the dancers can take you out of your own body. When it fails it can leave you feeling blank. Sometimes a story can hold the movement together, at other times providing context through psychological narrative (as in the ubiquitous ‘relationship’ duet), or through references to familiar gestural codes, can feel like too much information. Edge...

Lunar Rouge, The Tomorrow Collective; photo: Chris Randle

Kokoro Dance: butoh bodies, time and space

It’s windy, golden July morning in Vancouver, and I’m standing in a grotty doorway next to Dressew Supply Ltd. on West Hastings. On the steel door, a notice explains that the marijuana dealers, who used to work from the second floor moved out in February 2004.

Further, “(t)hey did not leave a forwarding address.” And as for tagging… “It is a waste of your talent and paint and a waste of our time.”

I buzz and climb the precipitous linoleum stairs.

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Billy Rainey
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Barbara Bourget (front) is flanked by Jay Hirabayashi and other dancers in Kokoro's "Ghosts". Photo: Chris Randle

Wadded plastic, descending airplanes, and dangling mikes: memorable images graced each of the three commissioned works in Dancing on the Edge's Edge 5. Made up of two duets and a trio – Co.Erasga’s Adam-Eve/Man-Woman (Part 1), Peter Bingham’s right in front of you, and Serge Bennathan’s Slam for a Timetraveller – the program chanced to follow a classic narrative arc, from emergence in the first piece, to greatest tension in the middle, and restoration of harmony at the end.

The first and most visually arresting dance, Adam-Eve/Man-Woman (Part 1), opens with two figures conjoined at centre stage, each swathed in...

Billy Marchenski and Alison Denham connect and disconnect in Adam-Eve/Man-Woman

Titus Andronicus at Bard on the Beach last night…

I ran into Brendan after the show last night and here is our dialogue:

- Well?  Did you like it? (this is Brendan)
- It was clear, well paced, handsome and accomplished. (this is me)
- That still doesn’t answer my question – did you like it?
- They almost made me forget I was watching a show in a tent.
- Come on, it’s a simple enough question, did you like it?

I really had to think … did I in fact like...

Titus Andronicus: it's bloody early, Allan Morgan (back), Russell Roberts, photo: David Blue

The tone for Industry of Dreams, the first of two performances in Edge Three, was set with an opening, deliberately amateur film of India’s daily life mixed in with dancing. Traditional theatrical dancing mixed with dervishes fade into scenes of people riding buses. The mood is set: This is India, and India is movement.

Then three dancers make their entrance. The first one – Namchi Bazar, the choreographer of the Industry – wears a dark sari and carries a metal jug atop her head. Two others (Angie Cheng and Sara Wiskar), dressed in red saris, seem to be stoic, veiled...

Namchi Bazar steps carefully through the Industry of Dreams

Dancing on the Edge – landscape and generous space

The Dancing on the Edge Festival has wrapped for 2008, but our thoughts about it will be appearing on the Plank pages through the rest of this week. There was much to enjoy, a few things to be puzzled at, plenty of laughter and an equal number of muse-worthy pieces.

At the end of a festival devoted to dance, it’s a bit strange to realize that the only dancing I did myself in those ten days was in my living room, the night I got home from watching Edge Five (review on the way!) and clumsily attempted to demonstrate for my partner some of EDAM’s moves.

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Meg Walker
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Aeriosa makes colourful clouds against the Vancouver Public Library

The Vancouver Art Gallery wants to become known for its collection of photography. This makes sense. Photography is an art-form at which Vancouver has become closely identified, as witnessed by the success of Jeff Wall and Roy Arden.

It’s also fair to say that a strong visual aesthetic is one of the strengths of the performing arts in Vancouver. And it is perhaps a fair criticism that often there seems to be more concern about creating images that will make cool stills over the substance of the work itself.

There were a lot...

aeriosa, cool images; photo by audience member meg walker