Choreography by Roberto Campanella, Guillaume Côté, Robert Glumbek and Kevin O’Day
Performed by Johanna Bergfeldt, Valerie Calam, Marc Cardarelli, Tyler Gledhill, Louis Laberge-Côté, Ryan Lee, Marissa Parzei, Brendan Wyatt, and Mami Hata
Runs until October 8 @ Fleck Dance Theatre
By Tina Chu
When seeing a highly esteemed company such as ProArteDanza for the first time, there is always the question of whether one’s excessive buildup of expectations could outweigh and upset the experience of the performance.
And though anticipating nothing but the best from ProArteDanza, its Season 2011 still exceeded my expectations, with strong choreography from Robert Glumbek, Roberto Campanella, Kevin O’Day, Guillaume Côté and memorable performances from the company’s dancers.
The program begins with Glumbek’s Verwoben, a piece named in German, meaning interwoven. Initially, the title appears to refer to the dancers as they entangle and disentangle themselves from one another, but as the performance takes form, it becomes palpable how the title also lends itself to the idea of intertwining music and movement.
Performed flawlessly by Marc Cardarelli, Mami Hata, and Brendan Wyatt, Verwoben positions dance as the physical dynamic of music, so that the audiences gets a sensation of aurally and visually experiencing Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No. 3 and the music gains a facet of visuality and physicality.
Seeming to embody a cello solo here and a piano harmony there, Verwoben goes on to present variations of how these musically-derived physical dynamics respond and adjust to added human interaction, how it varies between two dancers, between three and how it adapts to a confined space or a mutable surrounding.
A personal favourite, it is breath-taking to see art interpret art and integrate art so accurately and seamlessly, and in the same regard, to see it performed with such control, stamina and clarity.
Following Verwoben is Campanella’s En Parallèle performed by Tyler Gledhill and Marissa Parzei. Opening with Parzei framed by twisting plumes of fog, En Parallèle is pervaded by an undertone of apprehension and tension between the performers.
Beginning with languishing, measured movements, the choreography builds towards a final aggressive encounter that nearly has the Parzei throwing punches. In this arduous exchange, what stands out is the range movements, where Gledhill and Parzei contrast fast-paced routines with cautious lifts and extended gestures that suspend and prolong the dancer’s fervour in an otherwise fleeting encounter.
Where En Parallèle displays tension between dancers, O’Day’s Pearline, is all about a distinctive level of comfort between Mami Hata and Louis Laberge-Côté. Apparently created as a gift to Hata and Laberge-Côté, the piece uses the rapport between the performers to accommodate an acute sense of play that makes watching the performance like watching friends settling in to a fit of drunken whimsy, completely at ease in their mischief and thoroughly hilarious.
Another personal favourite, Pearline, together with Verwoben confirms Mami Hata’s first North American performance as an indisputable success and I look forward to numerous more from Hata.
Finally, the ProArteDanza’s program closes with the world premiere of Côté’s Fractals: a pattern of chaos. Self-evidently, Fractals is inspired by its namesake and its eight performers, Johanna Bergfelt, Valerie Calam, Ryan Lee and the five previously featured dancers, construct and deconstruct themselves as the natural phenomenon, personifying fractals through the performance of a set of motions on varying scales, in solos, duets, trios, and en masse.
Though certain variations felt stronger than others in Fractals, Côté’s choreography is a conceptual achievement and a strong finish to an exceptional program of mature, well-complemented choreography, executed by a roster of stunning performers.
This is a showcase worth revisiting and one that definitely must not be missed.