Fall arts preview 2018 dance critics' picks: Dance travels to watery depths, hip-hop heights

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      It is a good time to be a dance fan in Vancouver. First, we have a wealth of fresh local talent creating cutting-edge new work (see the likes of Vanessa Goodman and Julianne Chapple, below, not to mention superstar Crystal Pite). Second, we have truly exciting world-class work touring here—from French hip-hop aerialists to a lavish ode to Leonard Cohen. Find time for what you can.


      Sara Calero Company

      (At the Vancouver Playhouse on September 22)

      As part of the Vancouver International Flamenco Festival, the Spanish troupe presents a timely piece on migration and displacement. Petisa Loca looks at the experiences of the female diaspora when thousands of Spaniards were forced to emigrate to America in the mid-20th century.

      The Draw: A chance to see one of the foremost dramatic talents in Spain’s flamenco scene outside of the Iberian Peninsula.

      Target Audience: Rain-soaked Vancouverites who would rather be sitting in a Madrid tablao right now.


      Never Still

      (At the Firehall Arts Centre from September 26 to 29)

      Rising choreographer Vanessa Goodman, of Action at a Distance, takes her inspiration from water and plays with social, environmental, and biological themes. Here, she works with a topnotch team of talent—Shion Skye Carter, Stéphanie Cyr, Bynh Ho, Alexa Mardon, James Proudfoot, and Lexi Vajda—and atmospheric audio-visuals by Loscil.

      The Draw: Few build multimedia worlds like Goodman, and the rippling Tyvek sheets that work as set pieces here should create a flowing new universe.

      Target Audience: Swimmers, divers, environmentalists, and the thirsty.


      Katie Duck: Cage

      (At the Scotiabank Dance Centre on September 28)

      The legendary, Amsterdam-based improviser makes her first visit here in 30 years. The constants here are a black dress, a chair, three wigs, and a sharply feminist viewpoint on the horrors of our world, but the sound and soundtrack change. For Vancouver’s show, she’s joined by musicians Ben Brown, James Meger, and Roxanne Nesbitt.

      The Draw: Unpolished, raw life.

      Target Audience: Dance risk-takers who like the adrenaline rush of spontaneity.


      Joe: A Solo Show

      (At the Scotiabank Dance Centre from October 18 to 20)

      For Vancouver dance veteran Joe Laughlin’s first full-evening solo show, the Joe Ink artistic director turns to three vastly different choreographers for new works—and voice-overs from those artists to accompany them. Amber Funk Barton, Gioconda Barbuto, and South Africa’s Vincent Mantsoe are on tap.

      The Draw: Seeing the chameleonlike Laughlin morph between creations.

      Target Audience: Anyone who likes a three-for-one special.


      Company Wang Ramirez mashes forms.

      Frank Szafinski

      Company Wang Ramirez

      (At the Vancouver Playhouse on October 26 and 27)

      In this dynamite DanceHouse season opener, the revolutionary French company brazenly mixes mad hip-hop skills with Wuxia martial arts—the latter’s superhuman soaring feats courtesy of rigging and bungee ropes. Created by choreographic duo Sébastien Ramirez—a former Red Bull BC One B-boy champ—and German-Korean Honji Wang, the gravity-defying five-dancer Borderline should blow your mind.

      The Draw: Ghostlike white hanboks, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon flying, and badass break dancing, all in a single show.

      Target Audience: Avid members of this world’s massive cultural melting pot.


      Julianne Chapple: Suffix

      (At the Scotiabank Dance Centre on October 26 and 27)

      Thanks largely to the Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award, one of the city’s most exciting young artists has a new full-length work. Expect Suffix to coolly meld dance, video, sound, light, and sculpture to explore the effects of our high-tech world and our drive toward immortality.

      The Draw: Chapple’s ability to conjure striking, surreal imagery.

      Target Audience: Techies and visual artists.


      Ballet BC: Program 1

      (At the Queen Elizabeth Theatre from November 1 to 3)

      The company kicks off its artistic director’s 10th-anniversary season with some new work and an old favourite. Company head Emily Molnar gets a case of the blues, working with the musical form for her driving new untitled creation. She’s also brought back quirky audience favourite Petite Cérémonie—an appeal to the crowds who enjoyed Romeo + Juliet by the same choreographer, Medhi Walerski. And she closes out the program with a coveted work by her former mentor at Ballett Frankfurt: the Canadian premiere of William Forsythe’s physically demanding 1989 piece Enemy in the Figure, a piece that pushed ballet to new extremes.

      The Draw: Forsythe’s choreography was seminal; Walerski’s delightful.

      Target Audience: Contemporary ballet fans—with a capital C.


      Ann Van den Broek: The Black Piece

      (At the Scotiabank Dance Centre from November 6 to 8)

      The Dutch-Flemish talent explores all our fears and fascination with the dark, using film-noir touchstones (rushing footsteps; flashlight reveals) in a work with five dancers and a camera operator.

      The Draw: Seductive, elegant dance that taps all your senses.

      Target Audience: People who aren’t afraid of the dark.


      Hayley Gawthrop and Erika Mitsuhashi are part of a strong team of dancers in Public and Private.
      David Cooper

      Public and Private

      (At Left of Main from November 13 to 17 and November 20 to 24)

      Dumb Instrument Dance presents the premiere of Ziyian Kwan’s new full-length work, featuring video and a team of strong female dancers: Delia Brett, Hayley Gawthrop, Erika Mitsuhashi, and Deanna Peters.

      The Draw: Live taiko music drives the action.

      Target Audience: Empowered females, and those who know and love Kwan’s penchant for the quirky, the personal, and the kinetic.


      Akram Khan Company: Chotto Desh

      (At the Vancouver Playhouse from November 21 to 24)

      The U.K. kathak virtuoso who has wowed the world with his choreographic innovation presents a family-friendly show that will sweep you away. Interacting with richly drawn, storybooklike animation, the inspired artist tells a dreamlike tale of a boy exploring his British and Bangladeshi roots. It’s copresented by SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs, DanceHouse, Théâtre la Seizième, and 149 Arts.

      The Draw: The chance to reclaim your sense of wonder—and watch your own child unleash his or hers.

      Target Audience: Those who want to believe in magic again.


      Leonard Cohen's Dance Me

      (At the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on November 22)

      BJM—Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal—pays grand homage to Leonard Cohen. Begun with the legend’s blessing before the revered singer-songwriter-poet’s 2016 death, the half-million-dollar multimedia production debuted last December for Montreal’s 375th anniversary celebrations. Three European choreographers—Andonis Foniadakis, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, and Ihsan Rustem—created works for each of his songs here.

      The Draw: The songs, of course, matched by what is probably the most technically honed troupe in the country.

      Target Audience: Fans of the Bard of the Boudoir will say “Hallelujah”.


      This Duet We’ve Already Done (So Many Times)

      (At the Cultch’s Historic Theatre from November 27 to December 1)

      The rock ’n’ roll bad boy of dance is back. This time out, Mon­treal’s Frédérick Gravel strips things down for a fierce duet with muse Brianna Lombardo, their props an iPad for music, projectors, a chair, shoes, whisky, water, and glasses.

      The Draw: As we’ve seen here with pieces like Usually Beauty Fails, Gravel has the unique ability to raise laid-back banalities to transcendental levels.

      Target Audience: By now, the musician-choreographer has built a solid fan base here.



      (At the Vancouver Playhouse from February 20 to 23, 2019)

      Kidd Pivot’s Crystal Pite and Electric Company Theatre’s Jonathon Young—the local dream team whose Betroffenheit won a British Olivier Award and stunned houses across Europe—are back with a lighter new dance-theatre work that plays with satire, absurdity, and farce. DanceHouse presents.

      The Draw: Hands down the most anticipated dance event of the entire calendar.

      Target Audience: Anyone who saw Betroffenheit and will never forget it.