photo by Koh McRadu
Gretl, Snow White, Goldilocks and the Magic Mirrors
by Estelle Rosen
Dyana Sonik-Henderson is a dance instructor, choreographer, and Artistic Director of the Victoria-based company Broken Rhythms. Since returning to Victoria after seven years of travel and study, her productions and choreography have been performed locally at the You Show, the 2012 Fringe Festival (winning Pick of the Fringe), and UVic Dance Company. She has been commissioned to set choreography for local companies and has participated in community events around Victoria. Her show Grim toured in the 2013 Island Fringe Festivals. She has also toured nationally and internationally with Carnival Cruise Line; OIP Dance where she worked with Luther Brown from SYTYCD in Toronto; Royal Winnipeg Ballet; and Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, Calgary, in their show Live and Insync. Dyana has also had the opportunity to study dance and theatre at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music in Greenwich, England, and has performed in shows in Italy; London, England; Vancouver; Calgary; Toronto; Hawaii; Las Vegas; Texas; and Cuba.
In Hansel and Gretel, rather than focusing on the victimization of abandonment, I tried to recapture that feeling of wild excitement we have when first liberated from strict parental rules. In the dance, the brother and sister, away from their parents for the first time, manically play video games, hit the clubs, and finally, after experimenting with drugs and having hallucinations of ginger bread houses, fall into a bad trip. They’re not adults but they’re not kids either. The dance expresses that in-between stage when adolescents do things they know they shouldn’t, when the moral voice is absent and they’re testing boundaries.
I’ve found that fairy tales also offer a perfect vehicle for the style of dance that I’ve created (Rhythmical Contemporary). The animal inspiration and quirky movement suit the various storybook characters. The style of dance allows the dancers to render something fantastic and larger than life, but at the same time, something authentic and true.
I’ve enjoyed working with some of my favorite fairy tale characters in Grim and presenting alternate interpretations for their motivations. For example, Goldilocks is a spoiled narcissist who gets chased by a family of sprit bears, and the rats in the pied piper are crafty but eventually succumb to the piper’s hypnotic spell. In Rumplestiltskin, I’ve enlarged his foot stomping rage by cloning him.
The element of “story” is incredibly important in the way I choreograph and in the way the dancers embody the show, and I believe we’ve all found that these fairy tales have opened avenues of expression to us that we wouldn’t have been able to explore otherwise.