A MOVE: the company presentation. At the Vogue on Friday, November 25. No remaining performances
In his earnest welcoming comments at his recent show held at the Vogue, Josh Beamish explained that the evening was a departure for his five-year-old contemporary-dance troupe, MOVE: the company. “You’re going to see pointe shoes and tutus, and that’s going to be fun for us tonight,” he said.
The evening was more than a good time. It was also the chance to see the work of a wunderkind.
Beamish was just 17 when he started his company here, and since then he’s made several memorable pieces at home and abroad. The Edmonton native, whose mother taught ballet, seems to have no shortage of fresh ideas. He’s already made a name for himself with an inventive vocabulary that blends everything from hip-hop to jazz to modern. The fact that he can also produce a full evening of complex choreography rooted in classical technique is nothing short of astonishing.
The troupe performed four works, including Atonement, an ensemble piece that recently had its world premiere in Bangkok in celebration of 50 years of Thai-Canadian political relations. (As a nod to that relationship, Beamish invited the locally based Thai Dance Company to open the program.) Based on Ian McEwan’s book of the same name and set in interwar England, Atonement centres on the plight of a young author whose life is altered by love, lust, and lies.
Beamish effectively conveys the tale, but after a while I began to lose track of the story line—in the best possible way. Completely absorbed in the movement, I lost myself in it. With 21 dancers (11 female and 10 male), the work has passionate pas de deux; a joyful wedding scene; intricate patterns of women marching one minute, rotating their shoulders the next, then slicing the air with sharp arabesques; and groups of men charging forward only to seemingly encounter gunfire, stopping in their tracks, and arching their backs to extremes. Set to Dario Marianelli’s delicious score for the movie, with the sounds of a typewriter tap-tap-tapping against the plinking of minor piano chords, it’s all executed with ballet’s razor-sharp precision and clean lines.
The troupe’s synchronicity was consistent throughout the program. The Red Nocturnal, a fusion of ballet and tango, had dancers whipping their heads back and forth faster than a raging bull. Full of sexy energy and fast, Latin-inspired footwork, the work for 16 dancers rivalled anything to come out of La La La Human Steps.
Les Oiseaux was a playful if fierce take on the key roles from Swan Lake and The Firebird. In the latter, Heather Dotto was positively scary: with her lips painted as dark as her blood-red costume, her wild blond hair flying about, and her pirouettes just plain maniacal, she brought to mind Courtney Love in a tutu.
All of the ensemble pieces offered the thrill that comes with seeing so many beautiful bodies moving together in perfect unison. Yet just as powerful was Beamish’s solo, Suite for Solo Cello, an excerpt from his piece Allemande, set to the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. His swift gestures brought to mind Crystal Pite, his isolated motions somehow fractured and fluid at once. He mesmerized.
What a night, indeed.