Spring arts 2013: A diverse season dances our way
Death-obsessed Victorians in black funeral garb and Nordic amazons in nude body suits: yes, this spring’s dance season has it all. Throw in a few Canadian dance legends, a glistening new rendition of the ballet Giselle, and visitors from as far away as New Zealand and Israel, and you have a near-ideal mix of goodies to choose from. Here are just a few of the highlights.
(March 2 to 23 at various venues)
The festival returns with shows both large-scale and intimate, local and international, for much of the month of March. Among the bigger names are two Canadian dance icons looking back on a quarter-century: in The Light Between, Margie Gillis explores 25 years of research with painter-sculptor Randal Newman (March 16 at the Vancouver Playhouse), and Vancouver’s Joe Laughlin puts together a diverse retrospective from Wednesday to next Saturday (March 6 to 9 at the Scotiabank Dance Centre). Meanwhile, returning soloists like Denmark’s Kitt Johnson X-act (March 7 and 9 at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre) and Montreal’s Jocelyne Montpetit Danse (March 19 and 20 at the same venue) conjure more of their strangely beautiful magic.
The Draw: Black Grace’s combustible, ultracharged mix of contemporary dance and Samoan tradition wowed audiences here in 2010, and the kiwi troupe promises to blow the roof off the Vancouver Playhouse again (March 12 and 13).
Target Audience: Dance fans with diverse tastes who expect the unexpected.
(March 22 and 23 at the Vancouver Playhouse)
Bet you didn’t know Norway had its own national contemporary-dance company, let alone one with a French name. And while you process that, consider that the work the Bergen-based troupe is bringing here on its first visit is by an Israeli duo, Sharon Eyal and Gai Behar; their intensely physical style was no doubt born out of their backgrounds at Ohad Naharin’s famed Batsheva Dance Company. And so it is that DanceHouse wraps up its season by bringing Vancouver audiences another company they might never have had the chance to see.
The Draw: The Nordic cool of dancers with matching skintight, pale body suits, white hair, and supposedly even freaky white contact lenses.
Target Audience: Those curious about the Norway beyond fjords and Vikings.
(April 24 to 27 at the Firehall Arts Centre)
At the 2011 Dancing on the Edge Festival, Israeli Arkadi Zaides’s Quiet found four men, two Jewish and two Palestinian, pummelling it out on-stage. His new work, Land-Research, has similar themes, but its dancers, hauntingly, never meet: instead, each member of the culturally diverse, multilingual troupe (from a Russian immigrant to a Palestinian artist) performs a solo in front of projected images of landscapes.
The Draw: Zaides’s mix of the deeply personal and the explosively political gives the conflict in Israel new complexity and depth.
Target Audience: Artists for social change and those searching for clarity on the Middle East.
(April 25 to 27 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre)
One of the classic tutu ballets of all time gets an exciting, cutting-edge make-over by thrilling Ballet B.C. resident choreographer José Navas. We can’t wait to see his en pointe take on the story of the doomed peasant girl and her spurned love. Upping the visual feast are components created by Quebec graphic artist and illustrator Lino. It’s Navas’s final work of his three-year residency, and a bold step by the company back into the realm of narrative contemporary ballet.
The Draw: Anyone who saw Navas’s Bliss last season—a trio of works that literally brought people to tears and cheers—knows he has an eye for whirling, high-speed movement and deeply felt emotion.
Target Audience: Die-hard romantics with a cool contemporary streak.
(April 25 to 27 at the Scotiabank Dance Centre)
Veteran Toronto multidisciplinary artist Marie-Josée Chartier is a true renaissance woman, working in everything from opera to dance over her more than three-decade career. Now the West Coast has a chance to see what the buzz is about, as the Dance Centre brings her solo show Stria here, complete with movement, music, spoken text, and reportedly even a puppet. The artist melds impressions of Alberta’s Badlands with personal memories, touching on themes of love, loss, and the traces that are left behind.
The Draw: A show of luminous beauty with the resonance that comes from a mature dancer.
Target Audience: Artistically adventurous penny pinchers looking to get a taste of all the art forms for the price of one.
(April 30 to May 4 at the Cultch)
Tara Cheyenne Friedenberg has always mixed horror into her twisted humour in solo shows like the heavy-metal-hilarious bANGER and the crime-obsessed creepfest Goggles. But she may never have had such a perfect outlet as this warped send-up of Victorian funerary culture. This time, the genre-busting dance-theatre artist sets the movement on an entire cast of dancers powdered in deathly pasty white and decked out in gothic black.
The Draw: If an excerpt at a Dances for a Small Stage show last year was any indication, it’s watching Friedenberg translate her arch, off-kilter antics onto others.
Target Audience: Those who like to laugh in the face of death.