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Flash Review 3, 2-15: Scoop it Up,
Love and Other Duets Fested
By Shena Wilson
Copyright 2002 Shena Wilson
TORONTO -- Before During After, the
inaugural program of the Dance Festival of Duets seen Saturday February 9 at the
Winchester Street Theatre, home to Toronto Dance Theatre in downtown Toronto's
Cabbagetown district, was a tweak and a treat. Produced by three independent Toronto
dance companies, the Chimera Project, Edgedanceworks and Muses, this indie fest
of new dance was presented in three sections of four choreographers each, diplomatically
juggled into rotating time slots to fill three evenings at the Winchester. I was
immediately drawn to choreographers familiar: William Yong, Nicola Pantin, and
Malgorzata Nowacka, for example. And I appreciated the pure efficiency of discovering
12 pieces by some of Toronto's finest emerging and established choreographers
snuggled into one slick little eve. Other creators included: Kathleen Rea, Tanya
Crowder, Julia Sasso, Rebecca Todd, Yvonne Coutts, Eryn Dace Trudell, Monica Gan,
Jeanette McGarry and Maegan O'Shea.
Couple love, infirmity love, sexual
love, self-love (in the form of vanity -- hush now), rough love, tough love and
dance-for-me darling love -- it was all there. I had initially expected more explorations
between "characters" and perhaps even more sexy stuff. However, my fantasies aside,
we saw a juicy plethora of styles, an uncommon use of silence and live sound,
and, because some pieces are spanking new or in development, there was a completely
acceptable variance in the level of polish or sophistication.
In the space we have here, and in
keeping with the theme du jour, I've chosen to focus on my loves-at-first-sight
and a couple of quirky crushes, which, considering my dating habits, says a whole
bunch. (That is a joke, n'est-ce pas?)
Yong's piece, "Visitation," which
I saw as a celebration and remembrance of a deceased love, was simply exquisite.
Just writing this, I can feel again the gorgeous emotion of what Yong created.
Dressed simply in black trousers and shirts, Christopher T. Grider and Yong compliment
each other in every possible way and mesh the physical, the fantasy and the emotion
with ease, sensuality and class. The many lifts were airy, the overall elegance
and complicity palpable. Could an evening-length creation be developed?
Kathleen Rea's offering "Elysiam"
I found fabulously original. I so look forward to seeing even more of Rea's work.
Grace, bumps, speed, stillness, unpredictable twists and even some nifty disco
nonsense were offered up. It worked so incredibly well. Set to music by Clint
Mansel and played by the Kronos Quartet, dancers Courtnae Bowman and Amy Hampton
were a joy to watch. Hampton, in particular, has a way of presenting movement
to look like it was always supposed to be done that way, and no other, and this
is accomplished with glow and soul. Just since I last saw her at the modern dance
festival fFIDA in August, she has refined her strengths with depth and polish.
What a pleasure to witness in evolution.
Nicola Pantin's piece, an excerpt
from "Little Freedoms," has quirky moves and a delightfully subtle story arc.
Two sleepy women, sisters perhaps, wake in the wee hours of the morn hunched on
each other near their makeshift Hobo cart. Reminiscent perhaps of those who were
Waiting for Godot, these folks however have no existential major worries, other
than perhaps poverty and fleas, thorns, an itchy butt, pins-and-needles numbness
in various limbs, and a stubbed foot or two. They prod each other into a silly,
but not goofy, and intriguing flow of motion until they load up and wander....
It was all adorably danced on the 9th by Robin Calvert and Neesa Kenemy.
While all of the fest choreographers
used original vocabularies of physical expression, there was what I'll call the
'love-scoop,' which gradually became the signature move of the evening. I guess
we've all seen, done and dreamed the "love-scoop" at some point: one person curves
into a c-shape on the floor, or standing, and another dancer scoops themselves,
in some format, into the little comfy hole. That's fine, but in some pieces it
became the 'um' in the flow of their physical prose. It's logical, I suppose.
As humans who care for each other, we do this. We scoop, cradle and huddle. It's
beautiful. Whew. There was a whole lot of scooping going on.
Rebecca Todd presented "Nine Degrees
of Freedom" to live on-stage sound created by Susanna Hood. Hood spoke phrases,
such as, "It takes time to come home" which were re-recorded (or looped?) onto
other sounds. forming a dizzying, grating crescendo. Meanwhile, Yves Candau and
Eryn Dace Trudell interacted with and narrowly missed a gigantic mobile. The mobile
was composed of rectangular wooden stretcher bars (as used by those who stretch
their own canvases to paint), some uncovered and empty, some covered in blank
canvas. A very brief multimedia use of live video of the dancers' faces projected
onto the back wall but, curiously, not onto the moving canvases and frames. Ah
the potential! Notwthstanding the desperate 'get me outta here' gesture of my
witty companion PG during this cacophony, in the end, I found the raw stuff of
this assembly somehow memorable. The piece looks like it could go somewhere deep
and meaningful and find nine degrees of freedom. (Aren't there nine layers in
purgatory? Nine in hell? Someone call Dante.) As for the beauty of love or duet
or whatever . . . never you mind. Haven't we all experienced "love" that spins,
looks incoherent and sounds kinda ugly? It's a big risk to take. In love, and
in art. Bon courage!
Malgorzata Nowacka, dancer and choreographer
of "Transitions" with Piotre Biernat asked us to reconsider indecision. Such energy!
I'm not sure exactly how we got to indecision between the dancers or in general.
In fact, I'm still, er, undecided on that, but, I was engaged by the charismatic
tossing, spinning, and strutting. And, speaking of tantalizing, there was "Imagining
Beauty: 1. Vanity, and 2. The Image". While I yearned for more vamping and interaction
in this piece (but that's just me), I was certainly intrigued by the sly and groovy
Tanya Crowder, who chose to duet with herself in mirrors. By reflecting herself
in hand mirrors and then in part two, reflecting us back to ourselves in a large
mirror, Crowder enabled the audience as well to become her partner as she explored
love-hate, virtue-vice to music by Amon Tobin. Clever.
Clever is the final word on this
Festival of Duets where originality roams free and good creative vibes vibe. What
an ambitious undertaking for these three independent producers. (Who also, just
for the record, know how to assemble a snazzy salsa-style fund-raiser eve.)
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