Dances for a Small Stage 30 continues to stimulate

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A Movent production. At the Ukrainian Centre on Thursday (February 13). Continues on Friday and Saturday (February 14 and 15)

Memo to Movent: Belated congratulations on your new home! We’re not sure what all those skinny little dance vegans are going to make of the tantalizing odour that wafts through the Ukrainian Centre, although molecular analysis indicates that it’s 60 percent kielbasa and 25 percent onion, with the remainder divided between cabbage, sour cream, and beer. As far as we’re concerned, though, we’re just sorry we’d had supper before heading out to Dances for a Small Stage’s second venture into the Mount Pleasant venue. We won’t make that mistake again.

Congratulations, too, on the new initiative that curators Julie-anne Saroyan and Karissa Barry announced from the stage. Putting teams of musicians and dancers together in community centres around Vancouver is a wonderful idea, and we can’t wait to find out more. Readers, stay tuned!

And please accept further kudos for continuing to produce shows that are open to dancers of all shapes, sizes, ages, and genres, and for welcoming interdisciplinary collaborations, too. A more varied and stimulating program than the one we saw on Thursday would be hard to imagine.

Now, with a setup like that, you do realize that there are going to be some quibbles, right? It might be good to let the performers know that anything they do close to the floor of the stage is going to be invisible to most of the audience. (Kirsten Wicklund had a good idea, performing the first part of her gorgeous costume study Tether while standing on a small plinth.) We’d be tempted to move the row seating closer to the stage, in front of the tables, so fewer viewers would be inconvenienced.

Beyond that, we’ve got few suggestions—although you might want to fire the clown.

One of the great things about Dances for a Small Stage is that if you don’t like what’s happening at any given point, something different will be along in five minutes or less. That’s how we were able to survive tap-dancer Jim Hibbard’s stumbling take on Van Morrison’s “Moondance”; yes, we know he’s a legend, and it’s cool to see someone who once choreographed for Elvis Presley, but even he looked embarrassed by his awkwardness. That was followed by Corbin Murdoch and Lina Fitzner’s Retrospect, however, and even though this was reprised from the previous Movent event, Murdoch’s charming a cappella song and Fitzner’s potent physical reminiscences of dance school were no less lovely this time around.

Every time MC John Murphy—loud and unfunny in his Tin Man guise—took the stage, however, something inside us died a little. And then, fortunately, we were revived by movement. Highlights included Peter Chu’s marvellously sweet and supple Someone to dance with; the almost-improvised feel of Karissa Barry’s -the transformative you., a duet for the elegant Lexi Vajda and percussionist Dayna Szyndrowski; and especially Noam Gagnon’s piece for veteran actors Patti Allan and James Fagan Tait. Alternately tender and horrific, Le Temps des Cerises looked at how love can endure even through aging and illness and Alzheimer’s—a beautifully realistic riposte to all the romantic nonsense thrown around at this time of year.

Which reminds us: if you’re reading this online, and it’s February 14, and you’ve somehow forgotten to book a table at that little French bistro for you and your sweetie, don’t despair. Just head on up to the Ukrainian Centre, for nothing quite says “I love you” like a steaming plate of perogies and a hot mess of modern dance.

Comments (4) Add New Comment
Liz
Well I agree about the MC, but I have to disagree with you about my tap teacher, Jim Hibbard- he was amazing as usual and is an inspiration to many, many people in the tap world.
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Liz
I am surprised to see the negativity regarding Jim Hibbard. Have you forgotten he is 73 years old? And still dancing? He's a damn fine tap teacher, to boot. I think he was amazing, charming, and full of life yesterday night.
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J
I thought Jim's performance was one of the most genuine and certainly not embarrassing. Also, marley is terrible to tap on... cut the man some slack.
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jim
Yes, I did lose my balance at one point and yes, it embarrassed me, but the finality of your review certainly doesn't reflect the finality of my performances. I had a great time and the audiences seemed to as well. Ah, we ' legends ' are fair game though. For the most part you wrote a good review of a well produced Dances for a Small Stage by Julie-anne Saroyan.
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