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Review: Living Dances

Posted by art On November - 23 - 2011

Living Dances
Choreographed by James Kudelka
Performed by Rhonda Baker, Ryan Boorne, Valerie Calam, Michael Caldwell, Lauren EM Chin, Luke Garwood, Andrew Giday, Tyler Gledhill, Jones Henry, Laurence Lemieux, Daniel McArthur, Michael Sean Marye, Christianne Ullmark
November 12 @ Ryerson Theatre

By Tina Chu

Living Dances opened with Fifteen Heterosexual Duets, which saw Kudelka explore heterosexuality through male and female roles. Without a hint of cliché, the choreography’s simplicity lies only in the clarity of each duet and how Kudelka is able to capture and convey personalities without any excess in stylization where each gesture felt necessary and just right.

Admittedly, there were split seconds where certain duets felt ever so slightly dissonant, but overall the piece possessed a coherent and natural progression that allowed the fifteen duets to meld into and unravel from one another.

Particularly captivating were the duets of Valerie Calam and Daniel McArthur. Calam and McArthur were the only dancers to share the same partners throughout the piece and unsurprisingly so, as their compatibility as dancers were unmistakable and aside from Christianne Ullmark and Ryan Boorne’s duet, the pair seemed to truly steal the show. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: ProArteDanza’s Season 2011

Posted by art On October - 6 - 2011

Marissa Parzei and Tyler Gledhill perform in ProArteDanza's Season 2011 piece entitled En Parallèle. Choreographer: Roberto Campanella

ProArteDanza presents
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. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: from thine eyes

Posted by art On September - 29 - 2011

from thine eyes
Presented by DanceWorks
Co-produced by Native Earth Performing Arts and Signal Theatre
Choreographed and directed by Michael Greyeyes
Written by Yvette Nolan
Movement dramaturgy by Kate Alton
Music composed by Miquelon Rodriguez
Performed by Michael Caldwell, Luke Garwood, Ceinwen Gobert, Sean Ling, Shannon Litzenberger, and Claudia Moore
Ran September 22-24 @ Enwave Theatre

By Tina Chu

Death and dying may be an indefatigably intriguing theme common to art, but as the subject matter for the opening production to DanceWorks’s 2011-2012 Mainstage Series, it comes as something of a surprise.

Thought it’s difficult and obviously sombre subject to approach, from thine eyes presents a collection of four narratives that examine the idea that the unknowable truths of one’s life and of oneself are revealed through the act of dying and that these revelations are the passages into death.

Directed and choreographed by Greyeyes and written by Nolan, the narratives are not only complex thematically, but incredibly dense in detail as stories. It first begins with performer Sean Ling portraying a drug abuser who recalls the experience of himself unleashed as a murderer in a sudden fit of rage. Then, the scene deconstructs into Michael Caldwell’s performance as an abusive man re-living the violent rituals he inflicted upon his partner Ceinwen Gobert, eerily juxtaposed against memories of the recitation of the wedding vows that would begin this traumatic relationship. Next, Luke Garwood and Shannon Litzenberger performs as a couple wrestling to cope with a miscarriage and straddling the line between preserving the memory of their stillborn and being consumed with a past that will never be, a past that could ultimately destroy their relationship. Finally Claudia Moore closes with her depiction of a doctor who, nearing the end of her life begins to be haunted by visions of patients she has lost in her practice, recalling and beginning to understand how their deaths will ease her into her own inevitable end. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Nohayquiensepa

Posted by art On March - 20 - 2011

L-R: Chris Stanton, Carlos Gonzalez-Vio, Mayahuel Tecozautla, Beatriz Pizano. Photo: Katherine Fleitas

Nohayquiensepa (No one knows): A Requiem for the Forcibly Displaced
Directed and designed by Trevor Schwellnus
Choreographed by Olga Barrios
Featuring Carlos Gonzalez-Vio, Lilia Leon, Victoria Mata, Beatriz Pizano, Chris Stanton and Mayahuel Tecozautla
Sound design by Thomas Ryder Payne, Costumes by Andjelija Djuric
Runs until March 27 @ The Theatre Centre

By Kerry Freek

For just under an hour last Tuesday, audiences plunged into a purgatory inhabited by victims of corruption, both dead and alive, in a place of confusion and terror.

Inspired by violence in a Colombian river town and reports on the activities of Canadian mining conglomerates, Aluna Theatre’s Nohayquiensepa is a tattered eulogy expertly layered with dance, theatre, projection and sound. It premiered last week at The Theatre Centre. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Are You Okay

Posted by art On March - 8 - 2011

Michael Healey and Peggy Baker. Photo: John Lauener

Are You Okay
Peggy Baker Dance Projects, in association with Necessary Angel
Choreographed by Peggy Baker
Written by Michael Healey
Performed by Peggy Baker and Michael Healey
Directed by Daniel Brooks
Runs until March 13 @ Factory Studio Theatre

By Tina Chu

Described as a kinetic conversation and a mutual autobiography in space, Are You Okay is a continuous, hour-long, physical and verbal dialogue created and performed by Peggy Baker and Michael Healey, which ponders, like an unending late night debate, irresolvable questions surrounding human faculty, artistic creation and its significance.

Matching bare thoughts with minimal set, the performance is witty and candid, fortunately lacking the kind of austerity and aloofness that could easily swallow up such dissections of artistry. Read the rest of this entry »

Black Swan Reviewed

Posted by film On December - 9 - 2010

Black Swan
Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Fox Searchlight, 2010

By Sean Kelly

I wouldn’t usually be interested in seeing a film about ballet, but with Darren Aronofsky directing (best known for Requiem for a Dream), I knew that this wasn’t going to be your average ballet film, something which was confirmed when I saw the trailer for the film. This film initially piqued my interest when it played at the Toronto Film Festival a few months ago and now, with its general release, I finally got a chance to see the film.

The film centres on Nina (Natalie Portman), a dancer for a ballet company in New York. She is given the duo lead role in a production of Swan Lake. While her director (Vincent Cassel) is confident in Nina’s ability to play the innocent role of the White Swan, he is not so sure if she could handle the dark and seductive Black Swan. This leads to Nina having a rivalry with fellow dancer Lily (Mila Kunis), in which the events seem to be mirroring the ballet itself. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Denise Fujiwara and Susie Burpee

Posted by art On March - 6 - 2010

Denise Fujiwara's solo Lost & Found. Photo by John Lauener

DanceWorks presents
Denise Fujiwara and Susie Burpee
Part of Harbourfront’s NextSteps Series
Runs until March 6, 2010 @ Enwave Theatre

By Helen Fylactou

Choreographed and performed by Fujiwara, Lost & Found is the story of the slow progression of a woman losing her mind. Fujiwara exclaims to the audience, “I know I have issues, but who would I be without my issues.” It’s a heart-wrenching performance examining the duality of a woman dealing with mental instability; she’s struggling to find herself while trying not to lose what defines her. Fujiwara appears in multiple outfits and with an empty nest on her head. As the performance continues, Fujiwara begins to shed the layers, enacting different stages of her depression.

Fujiwara expresses so much without much movement — Read the rest of this entry »

Review: confluence

Posted by art On March - 2 - 2010

image via

Presented by Peggy Baker Dance Projects
Part of Harbourfront’s Next Steps series
Ran February 24-28 @ Enwave Theatre

By Helen Fylactou

confluence is loosely inspired by scientist Lewis Thomas’s essay “Lives of a Cell” and Sylvia Safdie’s artwork on insects. Divided into three contemporary dance works, confluence results in a complex interconnectivity between isolation, embodiment and performance. An original evening of dance, it features two works choreographed by Peggy Baker herself – a new solo and a trio for three dancers, plus a duet by legendary New York choreographer Doug Varone.

The first work of the evening was the solo piece performed by Baker. Titled earthling, it exposes Baker on a dimly lit stage, crouched on the edge of a sloping platform.  She takes the form of some unidentified creature that is drained of all emotion. Her movements are reptilian-like and as she rocks back and forth, she begins to resemble a beetle stuck on its back. Considering Baker’s age, her athleticism and strength is remarkable. Her infamous extensions did not fail to impress. Baker’s tightly choreographed solo reflects how solitary one person can feel despite the fact that they are part of something much larger.

The world premiere and centrepiece of the evening Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Pteros Tactics

Posted by art On February - 18 - 2010

Photo of Linnea Wong by Kristy Kennedy.

Toronto Dance Theatre’s Pteros Tactics
Choreographed by Christopher House
As part of Harbourfront Centre’s NextSteps series
February 15-20 @ Fleck Dance Theatre

By Tina Chu

Departing for an essay written by Anne Carson entitled Eros the Bittersweet, Christopher House’s Pteros Tactics is an exploration of the instant of desire.

As explored in Carson’s text and House’s choreography, to desire is to acknowledge a lack of something in oneself, thus it is the belief that to attain one’s object of desire would achieve a state of fulfillment.

Pteros Tactics begins with disjointed personal introductions by the dancers themselves, delivering a handful of lines like reciting snippets of personal ads about likes, best features, nice breasts, and being shy but willing, successfully eliciting more than a few laughs from the audience.

A little surprised by this beginning, and more than a bit thrown off, I couldn’t begin to guess where the performance would lead and when the lights dimmed for the last time, I felt uncertain I had been able to follow Pteros anywhere. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: roadkill

Posted by art On February - 5 - 2010

Part of Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage
Choreographed by Gavin Webber, Grayson Millwood and Sarah-Jayne Howard
February 3–6 @ Enwave Theatre

By Tina Chu

Even without understanding its exploration of agoraphobia and paranoia, I would have felt the same weighted anticipation as the lights dimmed for Splintergroup’s performance of roadkill at Enwave Theatre.

It’s not everyday a dance performance will incorporate a car and a phone booth all in one go. And while the sight of these props on stage was curious enough, seeing performers Gavin Webber, Grayson Millwood, and Gabrielle Nankivell interact with them was something the word curious cannot even begin to describe. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Displacement

Posted by art On November - 25 - 2009

Photograph by Boja Vasic.

Photograph by Boja Vasic.

Choreographed by Robert Glumbek
Visual Artist Vessna Perunovich
Composed by Christos Hatzis
November 18-21 @ Fleck Dance Theatre

By Gabrielle Charron-Merritt

The idea of displacement is easy to grasp, but it is hard to imagine such experiences, because it forces us to (re)live moments filled with uncertainty, helplessness, and prolonged pain. Watching Displacement was a sensitive experience; the small ensemble of seven skilled dancers morph into different emotional representations of displacement, while the video installation and music move, ever-changing, for much of the 62-minute piece.

Displacement is a multimedia piece presented by Vitek Wincza, artistic director of the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts Dance Theatre. Composer Christos Hatzis provided two compositions, The String Quartet No. 1 (The Awakening) and The String Quartet No. 2 (The Gathering), as the score. Visual artist Vessna Perunovich’s artwork came  from past installations and performance art pieces. Although both music and art had been created some years back and are being reused for this current production, the original choreography by Robert Glumbek synthesizes the three art forms, resulting in a performance that connects the artists’ ideas in a renewed and relevant way. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: ¡Lorca! In Search of Duende

Posted by art On November - 17 - 2009

Esmeralda Enrique

Esmeralda Enrique

¡Lorca! In Search of Duende
Choreographed by Esmeralda Enrique and Juan Ogalla
Part of Harbourfront Centre’s NextSteps 2009-10
Ran November 12-15th @ Fleck Dance Theatre

By Helen Fylactou

Last week saw the second of two recent Lorca-inspired performances in Toronto (see Daina Valiulis’ review of Des Walsh’s Rocking the Cradle). This dance event, however, fused Lorca’s poetry with passion-infused flamenco.

Lorca, a Spanish poet and dramatist, was involved in the Generation of ’27 — a group of artists famous for their avant-garde art movement in Spain. As his work became more successful, Lorca’s personal dichotomy between his fame and love-sick self intensified. Lorca’s better-known plays and poetry explore love, pride, passion, and death. The sold-out performance of ¡Lorca! In Search of Duende connected with Lorca’s intensity and radiated passion, strength and love.

Choreographer and dancer Juan Ogalla opened the evening with the sensational performance entitled Jinete/Rider (Soleta por Buleria). The prominent theme of passion and sex made Ogalla’s presence unavoidable. Accompanied by a live flamenco band, he maintained a rhythmic dialogue between himself and the musicians, and exuded sexual energy that was palpable, commanding attention with rapid footwork that followed the intricate melody. He expertly wended through the music, showing off the control of his upper bodywork and sculpted arm movement. Oozing with masculinity, Ogalla is a dancer of raw talent and virtuosity. Read the rest of this entry »



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