Fall arts preview: Dance critics' picks: This season, dance pushes the form
The dance season falls into two extremes: big-name draws and daring experimentation. In the former category, fans can feast on performances by Cedar Lake from New York City, a night of Aszure Barton, and a few appearances by our own superstar Crystal Pite. Amid the tried and true, there are also two strong Nutcrackers coming here in December: the Royal Winnipeg Ballet presents a uniquely Canadian take on the classic (think pond hockey and Parliament Hill) at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre from December 14 to 16, and the Goh Ballet brings back its sparkling traditional rendition to the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts from December 19 to 23.
Those in dire search of the avant garde can find their fix in works wired to Skype, multimedia collaborations, hip-hop fusions, and edgy new Euro talent.
What I Imagined + no comment
(September 21 and 22 at the Firehall Arts Centre)
Two veteran Vancouver dance artists join forces. Anne Cooper performs her own new work, What I Imagined, and then one by her collaborator of 20 years, local legend Chick Snipper.
The Draw: These two were in the vanguard of boundary-pushing, conceptual dance in this city.
Target Audience: Those who know that time can often enrich and embolden dance like it does a fine Cabernet.
Fabien Prioville dance company
(At the Scotiabank Dance Centre on September 21)
The La La La Human Steps and Pina Bausch alumnus brings his multimedia and ultrawired Experiment on Chatting Bodies here from Germany. In the work, Prioville invites people to show their homes and share their opinions, music, and movement via Skype.
The Draw: Joining in on Prioville’s virtual playground and watching everyday people cocreate a dance work digitally.
Target Audience: Chat-room junkies who want to see that platform channelled into art.
(September 28 and 29 at the Vancouver Playhouse)
Thank you, DanceHouse, once again, for bringing us one of the hottest troupes on the planet. Here for the first time, New York City’s renowned Cedar Lake will show what’s made it all the rage. Contemporary ballet has rarely looked this cool, and the program features fascinating, sometimes multimedia-laced work by the likes of Hofesh Shechter, Alexander Ekman, and our own beloved Crystal Pite.
The Draw: Batsheva alumnus Shechter’s Violet Kid “glowed in golden beauty and festered with relentless gloom” and “ratcheted the entire visit of the Manhattan-based troupe onto a high plane”, according to the L.A. Times.
Target Audience: New York nuts who like the idea of refined ballet with Big Apple urban edge.
(October 4 to 7 at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre)
The title of Co.ERASGA’s new work is nothing less than incendiary, its concept ambitious. Philippine-Canadian choreographer-dancer Alvin Erasga Tolentino worked with Philippine theatre director Dennis Gupa and three other artists from his homeland to dig deep into the complex influence of colonialism on that culture’s life.
The Draw: The costumes, video, and music should add layers of richness, but the real attraction will be seeing Erasga channel a history of subjugation and painful memories through his body.
Target Audience: Anyone who cares about global migration.
AWAA: Project XII
(October 24 to 28 at the Norman & Annette Rothstein Theatre)
Aszure Barton & Artists’ new work for seven dancers, brought to you by the Chutzpah Festival, rides a moving wave of emotion, from the melancholy to the joyful.
The Draw: A feast for the eyes and ears: dancers move sensually, holding big glowing red balls, to the rhythmic sounds of an original score by Lev “Ljova” Zhurbin and Curtis Macdonald.
Target Audience: Those who crave dance that speaks directly to the heart.
The Tempest Replica
(November 9 and 10 at the Vancouver Playhouse)
Vancouver’s Crystal Pite and her company Kidd Pivot dig into William Shakespeare’s most hallucinatory work, and the results should be exciting: as anyone who was blown away by her Dark Matters in 2010 knows, Pite can be deeply intellectual but is always accessibly theatrical and witty.
The Draw: We love it when Pite creates other universes: here, her work involves a maquette of Shakespeare’s isolated island and a nostalgic cityscape.
Target Audience: Pite’s growing legion of fans and those unlucky enough not to have experienced her magic.
Ballet British Columbia
(November 22 to 24 [In/verse] and January 24 to 26 [Encore] at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre)
Our local dance stars continue to leap across the cutting edge, with a season opener that boldly breaks new ground for the city, and a roundup in the new year of some of its edgiest, most unforgettable work since Ballet B.C.’s rebirth three years ago. November’s In/verse program features the North American premiere of A.U.R.A (Anarchist Unit Related to Art) by ultrahot Italian choreographer Jacopo Godani and world premieres by American choreographer Nicolo Fonte and BBC’s own artistic director, Emily Molnar. Meanwhile, January’s Encore finds a program featuring William Forsythe’s wonderfully bizarre and ridiculously difficult Herman Schmerman, alongside two unmissable highlights from the recent past: Jorma Elo’s exhilarating 1st Flash and Medhi Walerski’s surreally whimsical Petite Cérémonie.
The Draw: For the pure chance to see something new, we’re most stoked about Godani’s A.U.R.A, set to the music of German electroacoustic duo 48nord—the first time his work has ever been seen in Canada.
Target Audience: Adventure hounds who don’t like their ballet to play it safe.
(At the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts from November 28 to December 1)
One of the newer forces in town, the plastic orchid factory is making a name for mashing up multimedia forms and pushing dance forward with new artistic collaborations. Now cofounder James Gnam is ready to debut his newest creation, working with media artist Josh Hite, lighting genius James Proudfoot, sound designer Kevin Legere, and five dancers—including his brother, Ballet B.C. standout Connor Gnam. The topic mentioned in the title? The way we “chunk” memories together to remember tasks.
The Draw: Entering one of POF’s worlds conjured out of light and sound.
Target Audience: Multimedia nuts and memory specialists.
(At the Scotiabank Dance Centre from December 6 to 8)
Shay Kuebler reworks his clever, physically pummelling take on Japan’s high-pressure office culture into a new, full-length piece. Set to live taiko drumming and electronic music, the martial arts– and hip hop–inspired artist’s earlier, shorter version in 2011 was breathless and fun: suited men alternately fell into orderly formations and exploded.
The Draw: Here’s hoping Kuebler has kept his maniacal re-enactment of Tokyo’s infamous anger booths.
Target Audience: Had any frustration in your cramped cubicle today?
Gravity of Center
(February 20 to 23 at the Cultch)
Montreal’s RUBBERBANDance Group presents its latest hybrid of hip-hop, classical, and contemporary dance, inspired by the global financial crisis and ideas of abundance and scarcity.
The Draw: Choreographer Victor Quijada creates compelling characters on-stage, but the real attraction is his liquefied movement, a flowing, brazen fusion all its own. As he told the Straight before his last appearance here: “I want to get back to where dancing is you and you lay what you are on the floor.”
Target Audience: B-boys, ballet dancers, and bankrupt former stock brokers.