To understand how remarkably diverse the programming is at the Dancing on the Edge festival, from Thursday (July 6) to July 15, you have to start by looking at the two works that bookend the 29th annual event.
The fest opens with the hypnotic, Buddhist-samsara-inspired Oath-Midnight Rain from the Beijing Modern Dance Company.
“I personally feel that Dancing on the Edge has a role to introduce international artists to Vancouver,” the festival’s producer, Donna Spencer, tells the Straight, speaking from the event’s headquarters at the Firehall Arts Centre “It’s important that we share the work going on beyond Vancouver with the Vancouver artists, and as a way to reach out to a community that may not know about Dancing on the Edge but may know about Beijing Modern Dance.”
The festival closes with the polar-opposite vibe: the in-your-face, raw, rock ’n’ roll Iggy Pop ode No Fun.
Next, you have to consider all that happens in between, starting with a vast tapas menu of short pieces, traditionally known at the fest as Edge programs. On the roster, acclaimed veterans like Serge Bennathan, Cori Caulfield, and Chick Snipper find their works served up alongside fast-emerging names like Julianne Chapple and Ralph Escamillan.
Spencer continues to see more and more short works being created, whether as works in progress or as sparkling little pieces unto themselves. She adds they’re a cornerstone of the fest: “With mixed programs the feedback we get is people will come to see one work on the program and they’ll discover someone else they’ve never heard of.”
But for a true taste of how adventurous the programming is getting this year, you have to look outside the Firehall to the Edge Off series and the site-specific works. Think Kinesis Dance somatheatro staging a work in progress in a furniture showroom, Gail Lotenberg’s LINK Dance Foundation performing a show called Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? at busy crosswalks around the city’s core, and even a mobile-home dance-and-music pop-up called RV There Yet? that takes place in and around a retro camper van.
“More and more artists really understand they want to get their work out beyond the theatre. And you have to be really fearless to do site work,” Spencer says. “Creative people need to be doing that in this world the way it is. If people are not coming to us, we need to go to them.”