Vancouver’s beloved Dances for a Small Stage is about to launch an invasion of Ottawa. And true to the show’s mixed-bag programming, it will take place on several fronts.
First and foremost, the company is breaking into the esteemed Magnetic North Theatre Festival, a nationwide event that happens in Ottawa every two years, and elsewhere across the country in alternating years.
“Basically, it’s kind of a coup because we’re a dance company going to a theatre festival,” says Small Stage organizer Julie-anne Saroyan, of the producing company MovEnt, speaking to the Straight over the phone while juggling the logistical details of heading to Ottawa with a national lineup of artists.
She credits her ability to bring the show called Small Stage Canada to Magnetic North to her long association with that festival’s artistic executive director, Brenda Leadlay, who used to be an arts administrator in Vancouver (helping to found the Chutzpah Festival and acting as artistic director of Presentation House Theatre).
“We started to bounce around ideas and the first thing we thought about was theatre-dance collaborations,” says Saroyan, adding the Canada Dance Festival is coproducing the shows in Ottawa later this month.
To make it a truly national undertaking, Saroyan began recruiting artists from across the country who have had a relationship with Small Stage in the past, including onetime Vancouver dancer Sara Coffin from Halifax, who will work with 2b Theatre Company’s Anthony Black, and Frédéric Tavernini from Montreal, who works with such dance-theatre renegades as Frédérick Gravel.
Among the Vancouver participants in the show, which will have a preview of all the local work on the program at the Emerald, are Patrick Pennefather, Chengxin Wei, Vanessa Goodman, Burgundy Brixx, and Karissa Barry. Billy Marchenski emcees the evening.
The theme of the show is another point of fun-loving insurrection: styled after 1920s German cabaret, the politically charged program will gamely skewer Canada’s political climate.
“We’re going to take advantage of the fact that we’re in the shadow of the Parliament building,” Saroyan says.
And the other act of invasion for the show? Taking to the revered National Arts Centre, of course—a comparatively large platform not only for Small Stage, but for the local performers headed to Ottawa with Saroyan.
“There’s not a lot of opportunities across the country these days, and I think this is a really important one for young people,” Saroyan enthuses, and then adds of the program’s burlesque dancer: “And I’m taking Burgundy Brixx to the National Arts Centre!”
Small Stage Canada previews Tuesday to next Thursday (June 2 to 4) at the Emerald.