Fall arts preview 2017 dance critics' picks: Vancouver’s own dance talents dominate the stage

    1 of 4 2 of 4

      Local dance talent really takes the spotlight this autumn, with homegrown artists like Josh Beamish, Vanessa Goodman, Deanna Peters, and Shay Kuebler staging ambitious full-evening creations.

      It’s a sign our dance scene is thriving and nurturing a new generation of artists. Need more proof? Check out the 11th biennial Dance in Vancouver, November 21 to 25 at the Scotiabank Dance Centre, which showcases rising West Coast names like Meredith Kalaman, Aeriosa, and Julianne Chapple.

      This list only highlights the fall, but watch for two big shows—also by big Vancouver talent—in the new year: a double bill by established mavericks Chick Snipper and Tara Cheyenne-Friedenberg at the Firehall Arts Centre February 21 to 24, and the breathlessly awaited return of Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young’s Betroffenheit—a second chance to see Kidd Pivot and Electric Company Theatre’s seminal, Olivier Award–winning exploration of grief for those of you who missed the unforgettable sold-out run last year at DanceHouse. Take our advice: don’t mess up this time.



      At the Scotiabank Dance Centre from September 20 to 23

      Choreographer Josh Beamish returns to town with a yearning work for six male dancers. The title comes from a Portuguese word that translates loosely as a driving desire for the unattainable. Set to solo cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir’s haunting score, it explores fleeting relationships and the way they stick with us long after they’re over.
      The Draw: A team of dancers whose credits include Nederlands Dans Theater, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, and La La La Human Steps.
      Target Audience: Anyone who knows that breaking up is hard to do.


      Embryotrophic Cavatina

      At the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre from September 20 to 23 and September 26 to 29

      Kokoro Dance’s Barbara Bourget, Jay Hirabayashi, Molly McDermott, and Billy Marchenski navigate life and death and almost everything in between, all to a moving orchestral score by Polish composer Zbigniew Preisner.
      The Draw: Stripped down literally and figuratively, the show is a chance to revel in the raw power of the company’s butoh-
      inspired work.
      Target Audience: Butoh buffs and viewers who like to get at the meat of our existence.


      Vancouver’s Shay Kuebler in Feasting on Famine.
      Abbey Dutton

      Feasting on Famine

      At the Firehall Arts Centre from September 27 to 30

      Radical System Art’s Shay Kuebler turns his considerable physical and comedic chops onto the bodybuilding world, in all its obsession.
      The Draw: An early excerpt from this at the 2015 Dancing on the Edge fest turned head-to-toe shaving into high art and morphed muscleman poses into a warped stop-start ballet. It’s hilarious, awe-inducing, and accessible.
      Target Audience: Protein-shake-pounding weightlifters—and anyone who’s ever obsessed over a calorie.


      Hasta Donde…? + All Ways

      At the Scotiabank Dance Centre from October 12 to 14

      Compañia Sharon Fridman is named for the celebrated young talent who founded it in Madrid, after training and performing in Israel. The pieces on view here play complex games with contact improv—flowing, intensely physical pieces, the former a duet, the latter a swirling, urgent creation for seven crack dancers.
      The Draw: The chance to suss out a younger generation of Israeli choreographers, and see if it’s as red-hot as the one that preceded it.
      Target Audience: Contact-improv fans and those on the lookout for something new.


      Animal Triste

      At the Scotiabank Dance Centre from October 19 to 21

      Sad animals, indeed: that’s how choreographer Mélanie Demers presents us humans in her hard-driving four-hander, presented by Vancouver’s plastic orchid factory and her MAYDAY company. The quartet of dancers—plastic orchid’s James Gnam, Marc Boivin, Brianna Lombardo, and Riley Sims—are androgynous, pearl-draped creatures climbing toward civilization but ever falling into their animal existence.
      The Draw: A rare West Coast taste of the Montreal avant-garde, wrapped in those alluring pearls.
      Target Audience: Boundary pushers who like life on the edge.


      Deanna Peters and Kim Sato (behind) in META.
      Yvonne Chew



      At the Scotiabank Dance Centre on October 27 and 28

      Deanna Peters of Mutable Subject debuts the results of her well-deserved Iris Garland Emerging Choreographer Award, putting her form-mashing style together with the talents of contemporary-dance artist Justine A. Chambers and hip-hop maven Kim Sato. Local designer Natalie Purschwitz provides the threads, DJ Ice-B spins the tunes, and lighting designer James Proudfoot illuminates the action. Expect surprises, a hybrid of styles, and a touch of the surreal.
      The Draw: The combined forces on this project are simply some of the coolest talents in town right now.
      Target Audience: If you know any one of these artists, you know who you are.



      At the Vancouver Playhouse on October 27 and 28

      DanceHouse’s season opener, Finnish sensation Tero Saarinen, crafts a cracklingly fresh, contemporary ode to masculinity. A stage surrounded by swaying ropes and Esa-Pekka Salonen’s icy orchestral score adds atmosphere.
      The Draw: Saarinen’s work feels beautiful and refined yet raw and authentic at the same time. It’s somehow epic yet intimate.
      Target Audience: Fans of that crisp Nordic aesthetic and Finns who want to celebrate their centennial through art.


      Program 1

      At the Queen Elizabeth Theatre on November 2 and 4

      Ballet BC opens its season with a premiere by Cayetano Soto, its celebrated resident choreographer, and with the North American premiere of B.R.I.S.A., by Swedish star Johan Inger, an alumnus of Nederlands Dans Theater.
      The Draw: Local audiences already love the unpredictable Soto, but the return of work by Inger—whose theatrical Walking Mad was a major hit at Ballet BC a few years ago—should bring out the masses.
      Target Audience: Local balletomanes eager to see our top-flight troupe set the bar even higher.



      Wells Hill

      At the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre at SFU Woodward’s in the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts from November 24 to 26

      DanceHouse, SFU Woodward’s Cultural Programs, and SFU’s School for Contemporary Arts join forces to celebrate Canada 150+ with a locally crafted work that could not be more fitting. Vancouver choreographer Vanessa Goodman has been honing this smart multimedia ode to the philosophies of Canadian icons Marshall McLuhan and Glenn Gould for three years.
      The Draw: Wells Hill feeds your brain while conjuring an atmospheric black-white-and-grey visual world, too.
      Target Audience: Those who know that the medium is the message—and that movement can make it even better.