Sunday, December 14, 2014

Interview: Dancer Emma Hawes, on The Nutcracker, National Ballet

(photo by Aleksandar Antonijevic)

Plumming in The Best Nutcracker
by Ramya Jegatheesan, Senior Contributor
Emma Hawes was born in Delaware, Ohio and trained at the BalletMet's Dance Academy in Columbus, Ohio and Canada’s National Ballet School. She joined The National Ballet of Canada as a member of the Corps de Ballet in 2011. Ms Hawes’ repertoire includes Swan Lake, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, The Sleeping Beauty, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, La Fille mal gardée, Cinderella, Nijinsky, The Seagull, The Four Seasons, Theme and Variations and Carmen. In 2012, Ms Hawes represented the National Ballet in The Tenth International Competition for The Erik Bruhn Prize with Second Soloist Brendan Saye and won the Audience Choice Award. The Charlebois Post - Canada Senior Contributor Ramya Jegatheesan spoke with Emma Hawes.
CHARPO: When was the first time you ever saw The Nutcracker? 

HAWES: I was probably around seven-years-old. The first one I’d ever seen was actually one I was involved in. So it’s been a lifetime of Nutcrackers. 

CHARPO: What was that experience like, and what role were you playing?

HAWES: At that point, in my very young career, it was the most exciting thing I had ever been involved in. I was a party girl. I got to wear a really frilly and glam big dress. I was the Mother Ginger’s child. That was the highlight. It was really really exhilarating. To this day, when I hear the music I still think of the first time I ever danced The Nutcracker and it still brings that excitement back. I’ve been involved in a couple of different productions of The Nutcracker. That one was in Ohio, and I was in a couple of other ones. From then until now I was actually never involved in The Nutcracker until after I was in the National Ballet Company so this is kind of exciting.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Review: (Toronto / Opera) #UncleJohn

(photo by Darryl Block)

Mozart a Little, Mozart a Lot
by Beat Rice, Editor

#UncleJohn is the title character of Against The Grain Theatre’s modern  translation/adaptation of Mozart’s Don Juan. The well-known story of the womanizer who causes trouble and eventually pays for it in the end, has had its libretto re-written in English by Joel Ivany. Ivany, who is also the stage director, has envisioned the opera to take place in the here and now-literally, in the Black Box theatre, on Queen West in Toronto, the day before a winter wedding. Mozart’s complex score, with new musical arrangement by Stephen Hargreaves, generally remains the same, with a few hilarious pop culture interludes in the second act. The characters and the story also do not veer far from the original, sharing the same Italian names and relationships. Uncle John (Cameron McPhail) arrives to crash the wedding of young couple Zerlina (Sharleen Joynt) and Masetto (Aaron Durand) with his wingman Leporello (Neil Craighead), and runs into two ex-lovers, Elvira (Miriam Khalil)  and Anna (Betty Waynnne Allison). Sexual tension, miscommunication, and chaos ensue. 

Review: (Dance / Montreal) The Nutcracker

(photo by John Hall)
They Should have Called This “The Nutcracker’s Friends”
by Aleksandra Koplik, Senior Contributor

Perhaps I am not the best person to critique this performance as The Nutcracker is my all-time favourite winter ballet and holiday activity, so I take it very close to heart when a classical piece is done differently.

First off, I have to mention the incredible design that was created on and for the stage by Peter Home. It was absolutely breathtaking. Everything from the owl clock to the growing Christmas tree, to Clara’s dream world was done beautifully. The locations and acts were carefully layered with thin themed veils and the lighting (by Nicholas Cernovitch) really did its work in making them transparent or opaque.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

First-Person: Soprano/Director Robin Eder-Warren on Hansel and Gretel, Opera Mariposa

(photo by Kathryn Nickford)
Entering the enchanted forest
making opera magic with Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel
by Robin Eder-Warren

Robin Eder-Warren is an award-winning soprano and critically acclaimed stage director, as well as the managing director of Opera Mariposa, a Vancouver-based company for emerging artists. She made her operatic direction debut in 2013 with Pergolesi's La serva padrona, which was hailed as “a masterpiece of controlled mayhem” (Review Vancouver). She went on to direct Donizetti's Don Pasquale, which was praised as “well-honed,” “delightful,” and “an excellent harbinger of more well-cast and well-directed operas to come” (Opera Canada magazine). As an award-winning soprano, Robin has sung on stages around the world, from Germany to New York to Disneyworld, and has been described as “a talent beyond words” (Life in the ‘burbs). Select role highlights include Musetta (La bohème), Despina (Così fan tutte), Susanna (Le nozze di Figaro), Lauretta (Gianni Schicchi), Gretel (Hansel and Gretel), Laurey (Oklahoma!) and Cunegonde (Candide) among many others. As well as directing Hansel and Gretel for Opera Mariposa, she is currently performing as Meg in the Broadway musical Little Women with Fighting Chance Productions.

I have a confession to make: directing a fairy tale is not as simple as it seems.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Review: (Montreal / Dance) Winnin'

(photo by Frédéric Chais)

No end in Sight
by Caitlin Murphy, Senior Contributor

Winnin' is a compendium of gestures that, like its truncated title, are reluctantly reaching towards completion. Choreographed and performed by the brilliant Dany Desjardins, who has previously created All villains have a broken heart (2008), On Air (2009) and POW WOW (2011), it's an accomplished and powerful piece that explores our obsession with winning, and encourages us to lay down our tools of self-inflation.

News: Opera News Awards announced, include Canadian soprano Teresa Stratas (Press Release)

News: (Ottawa) Opera Lyra announces major shifts in artistic program (Press release)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Essay: Jacob Niedzwiecki on the future of artists and arts organizations, Part III

“Build no more fortresses, build railways.” Part III
by Jacob Niedzwiecki
(reprinted with permission)
Performance photos by Vish Hansa, featuring the cast of Jacqueries, Part 1

We hang together, or we hang separately
I’m at a point in my career where I’m getting asked more and more frequently, “Are you incorporated?” As I see it, I have been lucky enough to avoid that fate. As a young artist, I watched several creators go through that process only to emerge with an incredibly cumbersome organizational armature that actually made it harder for them to make work. Since leaving the National Ballet in 2007, I have fiercely defended my independence and my creative initiative. But I also can’t overlook the way that my relationships with established companies (large and small) have made my independent career possible.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Joel Ivany, Artistic Director of Against The Grain Theatre, on #UncleJohn

Uncle John is on his way to TO. 
by Joel Ivany, Artistic Director, Against the Grain Theatre

He wreaked utter havoc in the picturesque landscape of the Rocky Mountains, and now he's taking his game to the big city.  

It's been quite an experience taking this libretto, arrangement and production of #UncleJohn from a workshop setting at The Banff Centre to AtG's home setting for its première in Toronto. In Banff, we were able to play, practice and hone our technique with some of North America's best voice, acting and music instructors. Exploration and dramaturgy made our unique product even better, and being supported by The Banff Centre and the Canadian Opera Company ensured a high quality production. I believe wholeheartedly that had we not been able to workshop this piece in Banff, we wouldn't be able to achieve what we will do in Toronto.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Review: (Montreal / Dance) Yellow Towel

(photo by Maxime G. Delisle)
All eyes on Dana Michel
by Aleksandra Koplik, Senior Contributor

Dana Michel, creator and choreographer of Yellow Towel, manages to baffle you from the very beginning of the show. She entered the room in a baggy pair of black sweatpants, New York Yankees hat, over-sized sweater and clunky white shoes with gold spikes. It's hard to believe, at first, that the man we initially see on stage is actually a woman. She uses very brief moments to get in the skin of different characters and maximizes their existence on stage, whether it's a man or a woman or a child. Breaking into all the different typical black stereotypes, Michel uses speech to narrate her performance. When she was a little girl, she wanted blonde hair, so she would wrap her head in a yellow towel. This is a re-occurring symbolism throughout the piece. I couldn't pinpoint her origins, because at different points she spoke with a fluent Jamaican, Georgian and New Yorker accent. When I realized she was actually from Ottawa, I couldn't believe it. 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Essay: Jacob Niedzwiecki on the future of artists and arts organizations, Part II

“Build no more fortresses, build railways.” Part II
by Jacob Niedzwiecki
(reprinted with permission)
Performance photos by Vish Hansa, featuring the cast of Jacqueries, Part 1

Live performance is now a premium product — or even more of one
We’re putting on live performances in the age of mechanical reproduction. When 'free' is the default price point, even a fringe show becomes a premium product. For indie organizations and companies that run close to their communities, this is only a small bump up the ladder. But organizations who were offering a premium product are now offering an elite product. They need a strategy to avoid creating a price umbrella. They need an affordable on-ramp for aspirational consumers and potential audience members. And they need to pay time and attention to social issues to keep their image positive. Cheap, high-reach activities like livestreams can help all types of organizations. Large organizations can use second companies or chamber groups as ‘flanker brands’, with the potential to negotiate contracts more amenable to reaching extramural audiences.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Review: (Montreal / Dance) Prismes

In a land of dreams and nightmares
by Chad Dembski, Editor, Dance

Montréal Danse is an intriguing Montreal dance company in that they choose a different choreographer for each new creation. Led by Artistic Director Kathy Casey, they tend to allow an exploration of new ideas and experimentation. Prismes; a highly original, bizarre and ambitious piece was originally created in 2013 at Agora de la Danse explores perception. The perception of colour, of light in space, and of body in as many forms as could be imagined. With a varied and pulsating soundtrack by Laurent Maslé and Tomas Furey the six performers display incredible virtuosity throughout the 75 minute piece.  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Essay: Jacob Niedzwiecki on the future of artists and arts organizations, Part I

“Build no more fortresses, build railways.” Part I
by Jacob Niedzwiecki
(reprinted with permission)
Performance photos by Vish Hansa, featuring the cast of Jacqueries, Part 1

I’m a choreographer, director, and coder. In the last seven years, my creative work has reached a live audience of maybe 15,000 people. In the same period, I’ve reached over 150,000 people through works for screen (directing the recent World Ballet Day livestream for the National Ballet of Canada, music videos, and other online videos, and film festivals). So if I want to reach the widest audience possible, I should focus on works for online audiences, right?

No. Online audiences don’t generally like to pay for things, and there are no arts councils in cyberspace. (Corporate sponsorship sometimes fills in, but it usually follows success rather than enabling it).

 I’ve reached ten times more people through online and film works, but earned less than a tenth of the compensation for that work. 

These comments about earnings don’t come from a place of greed, but a place of accessibility. When I was twelve, I read Arnold Haskell’s midcentury primer on ballet, which advised that it was unwise to attempt a life as a ballet dancer without wealthy parents or a rich husband. Given my hippie parents and my penchant for bohemian/artist types, I was lucky that in the intervening half-century, dancers had organized and made ballet a viable profession. When it’s impossible to earn a living from creative endeavours, artistic creation becomes an elite pastime. Online creators have struggled with this sustainability question since the dawn of the Internet, and only recently have platforms like Kickstarter and Patreon begun to help.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Captured, November 30, 2014

Another magnificent video from David Cooper which also happens to redefine what dance can be. Dancer: Linda Arkelian, Music: Stephan Moccio. Get ready to be hypnotized.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Review: (Montreal / Dance) Infinity Doughnut

(Photo: Svetla Atanasova)
The Pleasure of Being Together
by Chad Dembski, Editor, Dance

Upon arriving just on time to Monument National I saw an extremely long line for the coat check. This was the first request of many to shed your outer world belongings and join the performance space area. I left my backpack and shoes at the side, stood against the back wall and held hands with two different strangers. Then as a long line of curious audience members we carefully navigated down a flight of stairs and walked in and around the space.  This instantly brought me back to elementary school and the few exhilarating days we would visit a non-school location. There was a giddy nervousness amongst most of the crowd that chose to go along for the ride; some audience members refused to take their shoes off and join in. Still this simple, opening action helped bring an instant intimacy to the piece and for me a personal awareness of each and every audience member.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Review: (Montreal / Dance) That's It

Any Shape, form or structure imaginable
by Chad Dembski,  Editor, Dance

The solo dance performance of That’s It at La Chapelle is a strong investigation of body transformation in all its possible forms. Brussels based creator and dancer Sabine Molenaar first premiered the piece in 2012 and has toured it extensively before making this its North American première. Her incredible virtuosity and control are displayed from the first image of sitting on the ground, back to the audience and arms wrapped in a mysterious way around her body. My first thought was that this was going to be a contortionist show of intense and unbelievable body moves. This became half true over the next 50 minutes where Sabine pulls, pushes, tears and transforms her body into every imaginable form.

News: (TO) Charles Sy wins top prize at COC vocal competition (Press release)

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Captured, November 25, 2014

Manitoba Opera takes you for a fascinating look behind the scenes for its new production of Beethoven's only opera, Fidelio, now playing in Winnipeg.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

From the Archives: Sue Edworthy on emerging companies and marketing

Pretend It’s Going to Print
by Sue Edworthy
[PUB: Sue Edworthy is one of the country's top publicists and pundits on the subject. When I pulled this from the archives, I realized not one word of it needed to be changed or explained so that it is a fitting lesson to companies working in dance and opera as well. GLC]

Sue Edworthy Arts Planning offers Marketing + Communications + Planning – For Your Art. This is what my business card says I do. What I actually do doesn’t quite fit on a business card – what I actually do is the current culmination of nearly 20 years of working in not for profit arts and culture, all disciplines, all areas, but with a firm focus on marketing for your show or arts organization. I work with organizations from an independent artist putting up her first gallery show, to small arts orgs working their way towards operational standing, to government run arts orgs. I run (market?) the gamut.
In case you were wondering what else I do when I am doing that, I am Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Toronto Fringe Festival; Arts Advocacy Committee; Artsvote Toronto; Dora Jury, Harold Award recipient, ACCA member. I see a lot of plays, I see a lot of movies, I read a ton of books, I am what I call a “city enthusiast” and I talk to anyone who will listen about the amazing art and artists in our city and the impact all of this has in making Toronto an amazing place to live. I did a 12 hour art marathon earlier this year to prove it could be done.
That is some of what else I do. You may be wondering why this matters, but I’m telling you about it because it really kind of shows that I am fully immersed in the arts community in Toronto, and that MarComm for the arts is something I literally love to do. Some friends give me a time limit to talk about it, as I could go on for hours. I’m the type that gets mad when you mute the commercials, because I want to see them.
CharPo asked me to write an article on me and my company, and “what you see as marketing mistakes on the part of emerging companies”. And my first thought was, “where do I begin?” – Not in a snarky way, but in a “which ones should I talk about that would be most effective to hear about?”

Friday, November 21, 2014

Captured, November 21, 2014

This odd and troubling and beautiful teaser for That's It from Belgian Sabine Molenaar playing at La Chapelle in Montreal this week. The description of the piece says "logic has no place". Indeed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Captured, November 19, 2014

The National Ballet's production of John Neumeier's Nijinsky opens this weekend. The title-"character" is an icon of modern ballet who had a life as stormy as many of his great roles.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Bathtub Bran with Artistic Director Riley Sims of Social Growl Dance

Bran talks with Riley Sims of Social Growl Dance as he prepares for his December production of Are You Still Coming Tonight?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

From the Archives: (Dance / Montreal) Review - Dance Me to the End On / Off Love

When Even "Hallelujah" Feels Revitalized
by Caitlin Murphy

[Ed: We ran this review during the initial run of the piece; it is back for a short run - November 19-22 - at Centaur Theatre in Montreal.]

On the heels of its triumph, Trad, the Centaur Theatre is offering another enigmatic and enchanting ‘import,’ this one from further afield.  Dance Me to the End On / Off Love, a Granhøj Dans Production from Denmark, presents a surreal landscape of theatre, movement, and performance art, through the lens of some very familiar melodies and beloved lyrics – those of  Montreal’s own, Leonard Cohen.

A bold programming choice for the Centaur, Dance Me is clearly interested in challenging and teasing its audience, playing with our desires to see clearly, understand what we’re looking at, and be able to read well.  At various times, we are sung to through a megaphone or nylon stocking, shown Cohen’s lyrics re-written on overhead projector, temporarily stunned with a blinding light, or made to decipher what’s being written in body paint on a dancer’s back.   

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Review (Montreal / Dance) 6,3 Évanouissements

How I Fell In Love With Contemporary Dance
by Aleksandra Koplik, Senior Contributor

There's something about this performance that is strangely captivating from the very beginning. As the audience gathered in the vestibule, waiting to be seated, one of the choreographers and performers (Benoit Lachambre), approached a few individuals and told them that something was going to happen in a few minutes, asking them to freeze at the appropriate moment. At this point I knew this was going to be interesting. As predicted, everyone froze at the right time and looked in the directions we were told. We found that five performers had been among us the whole time. They too were frozen, at first, but then started convulsing in a range of motions. We were then all slowly invited to be seated. Before we sat down, we find one of the dancers on stage alone. She is light and windy in her movements. There's always a fine line between an enticing-weird and uncomfortably-weird contemporary dance show. This performance by Danse-Cité and Agora de la Danse was most definitely fascinating, even to the untrained eye. Six incredibly talented artists come together for 6,3 Evanouissements: Fortner Anderson, Marc Boivin, Sophie Corriveau, Michel F Coté, Benoit Lachambre and Catherine Tardif. They create a space in time describing the act of fainting. Where one's consciousness or spirit goes, in a very relatable and humorous way.

Bathtub Bran: Kristen Carcone and David Norsworthy of TOES for Dance

The Boy In The Bathtub offers us a threesome today with Kristen Carcone and David Norsworthy of TOES for Dance. Upcoming shows in Toronto on November 15 and 16.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

First-Person: Michael Hidetoshi Mori, Artistic Director of Tapestry Opera

Shout Out In Joy and Frustration!
by Michael Hidetoshi Mori

Michael Hidetoshi Mori of Tapestry Opera is both Canada’s youngest professional operatic Artistic Director and the only Asian-Canadian to ever hold such a role. Now in its 35th year, Tapestry produces contemporary and Canadian opera, filling a crucial and innovative niche in the country’s cultural landscape. With a history boasting over 15 major world premieres and 175 opera shorts premieres, the company regularly engages the nation’s best composers, writers and singers, including Judith Forst, Sally Dibblee, Krisztina Szabo and Ted Berg. It has also collaborated with esteemed ensembles and companies such as The Gryphon Trio, Edmonton Opera and Scottish Opera. 

These days it seems taboo to love publicly and be passionate about things of substance, unless that energy is expressed via social media for trending bursts of time. I want to change that. Shout out in joy or frustration; break something against a brick wall; sing and dance on impulse regardless of where you are…love or hate things with greater passion and less pragmatism!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Captured, November 9, 2014

The opera Silent Night - which will be playing a little everywhere this season but is starting out at Calgary Opera, tells the story of a wondrous and blessed time in the history of WWI when enemies came together. The magnificent photographer, Trudie Lee, has captured a moment in the opera which could just as well be the actual moment in history. The colour looks applied, the balance of light and dark perfect, the groupings of standing and sitting characters captured lovingly. It is dececptive too: posed as if for a camera from the first decades of the last century, but also strangely natural. The opera - and the photo - are a brilliant tribute on this, the hundredth anniversary of the war that was meant to end all wars.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Review: (Toronto / Dance) The Four Horsemen Project

Text, Sound, Poetry, Song
by Jasmine Chen,  Senior Contributor

“Language has been so misused by merchants, politicians, evangelists and materialists. Language has become abusive; sullied and souled by ulterior motives. Sound Poetry was an abandonment of language.” – Paul Dutton

This quote rings out with particular clarity in our contemporary society, when a single miscalculated comment can send the media into a frenzy or the twitterverse into a firestorm. When language can be manipulated towards different agendas, it is refreshing to step back from what we know as language. What the Four Horsemen and Volcano Theatre with Crooked Figure Dances and Global Mechanic are able to do is strip language of meaning so that we begin to listen to pure sound. When we begin to listen to sounds produced by the voice and human body, we stop relying on language to convey meaning. The result is a fully embodied form of expression that is exposed and surprising.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Review: (Dance / Vancouver) No. 29

White Act (photo: Michael Slobodian) 
From Athletics to Cerebral
by Jay Catterson
The Ballet BC 2014-2015 season launched on Thursday night with No.29, a bold collection of works from choreographers Jacopo Godani, Fernando Hernando Magadan, and Lesley Telford, which commemorates the 29th anniversary of the company as well as the 29th original work since the renewal of the company in 2009. 

The Abominable Showman; Baritone Étienne Dupuis

The triumphant homecoming of Etienne Dupuis
After receiving accolades across Europe, Montreal baritone Etienne Dupuis returns home to star in The Barber of Seville at L’Opéra de Montréal 
by Richard Burnett 
(Rehearsal photos by Yves Renaud)

Montrealers remember seeing rising baritone Etienne Dupuis when he was part of a flash mob of opera singers staged in the busy Marché Jean Talon market in his hometown of Montreal, to promote L’Opéra de Montréal in 2010. “I love people’s faces when I start singing opera in an up-close space,” Dupuis told the Vancouver Straight alt-weekly. “We were standing right in front of them and they just became statues. People don’t realize the nature of that sound and what it does to you. It can make you vibrate.”

Watch the clip here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Letter From New York: The Death of Klinghoffer

Alan Opie (Leon Klinghoffer) and Jesse Kovarsky (Omar) in The Death of Klinghoffer. Photo credit: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Mixed Emotions.
There's a lot of post-9/11 baggage on this cruise. 
by Lisa McKeown, Senior Contributor

[PUBLISHER'S NOTE: In the past we have asked our contributors to send in reviews of productions in cities they were visiting: art as seen by Canadians abroad. In this case we asked Lisa McKeown, one of our most politically astute contributors, to review a highly controversial piece playing at the Metropolitan Opera both because it has become an international story, but also because it is a work which may, in some incarnation, make its way to Canada. I am very proud to be presenting this piece; Ms McKeown cuts through the noise. GLC]

The very controversial opera, John Adams's The Death of Klinghoffer, is currently playing at the Metropolitan Opera (Met) in NYC. The opera is based on the 1985 hijacking of a cruise ship by Palestinian terrorists. In the course of events, they shoot Klinghoffer, a disabled Jewish man who was celebrating his wedding anniversary, throwing his body and his wheelchair overboard.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Captured, November 3, 2014

This is one of those performance photos where you don't need to do a lot of blah blah blah to explain it's greatness - you just need to say, "Look at it!" Trudie Lee captures dancer Natasha Korney from Decidedly Jazz Danceworks for Year of the Horse, the completely fictional adventures of Josephine Baker.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Captured, November 1, 2014

Celebrate 25 years of Toronto's Kaeja d'Dance with this electrifyingly kinetic video!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Review: (Montreal / Dance) Gustavia

                                                                   (photo: Marc Coudrais)
The Itch
by Caitlin Murphy, Senior Contributor

As a new mother, when my son was crying in public, I often felt compelled by the eyes of strangers to perform the role of concerned mother. And the problem wasn't the concern of course, but the performance. I'd quickly vacillate between stinging resentment and a strange compulsion to keep up appearances. This odd dance – between begrudging what's expected of us, while simultaneously delivering it – may not be a uniquely female experience, but it often feels so. It's a feeling that's being hotly-debated in the media at the moment, and one that is rendered exquisitely palpable in Gustavia.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bathtub Bran: Brandy Leary, AD Anandam Dance Theatre

This month: the Boy in a Bathtub talks it up with Brandy Leary, artistic director of Anandam Dance Theatre and co-director of Collective Space

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Feature: Curators Benjamin Kamino and Emi Forster on Dancemakers

Here we are. Here we go
by Benjamin Kamino

There is an overarching question we now undertake as we look forward to a future at Dancemakers that is — what is Dancemakers becoming?… and in order to see clearly where it is we are going we must undertake where it is we are now.

The position of dance curator is a burgeoning field for the dance sciences in Canada and was put in place at Dancemakers by Michael Trent, former Artistic Director. Now, as curators  Emi and I are open to an immense potential, namely — the potential to work both iteratively and to exist anew — because of this, we find ourselves asking the question…

What is Dancemakers? 
so what is it? really? 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Review: (Vancouver / Opera) Stickboy

(photo: Tim Matheson)

by Jay Catterson, Editor, Dance

Stickboy, the new work being presented by Vancouver Opera is based on spoken word artist Shane Koyczan's novel about a boy who gets bullied by his peers, and the effects of bullying on himself and those around him. Koyczan returns to provide the libretto, with music by Neil Weisensel. 

Now is it really an opera, and were they successful in bringing this story to the stage? This show is more multi-media performance art in the style of opera rather than a true opera, and at times the show brilliantly works, but most of the time it did not. The music by Neil Weisensel was evocatively lush, and his score is performed by a brilliant cast. However, the major problems lie with Koyczan's libretto. The audience is immediately thrust into a scene where Boy (brilliantly performed by tenor Sunny Shams) is being bullied by a bunch of schoolkids in a snowy playground, and similar bullying scenes occur so frequently throughout the first and second acts that we don't really have a chance to empathize with Boy's character. If they excised a few of these scenes to give the story (and the audience) a chance to breathe, perhaps spacing out Boy's journey with a few more moments of joy, we would really feel the impact of those horrific bullying scenes more.

News: (Toronto) COC Annual General Meeting report (Press Release)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Profile: Baritone Phillip Addis, Barber of Seville (Edmonton)

Catching up with Phillip Addis
Figaro in Edmonton Opera's Barber of Seville
by Sable Chan
(reprinted from The Choir Girl)

Metallic shelving units line the perimeter of the Jubilee Auditorium rehearsal hall. They are laden with props. A quick glance around the room reveals a barber’s chair in one corner. There is a side cart decorated with razors, combs, and a tall glass jar ready to disinfect any used combs. The stage manager helps me to clear a spot on the wooden prop vanity to interview Edmonton Opera’s leading man, Phillip Addis, playing Figaro in the Barber of Seville. Addis relaxes back in his seat with a sense of calm. He is no stranger to Principal roles having sung the title role in Pelléas et Mélisande with the Opéra Comique in Paris and Il Conte Almaviva in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro with Pacific Opera Victoria earlier this year; however, this is Addis’ Figaro debut.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Review: (Vancouver / Dance) Dances for a Small Stage

Falling Short
by Jay Catterson, Editor, Dance
The 31st installment of Dances for a Small Stage at the Ukrainian Hall (famous for its regular Ukrainian pierogi dinner) combines for the first time live music from Toronto's all-female Cecilia String Quartet with this popular Vancouver dance showcase through a collaboration between MovEnt and Music On Main's Modulus Festival. In fact, the true standout of the show was the brilliant Cecilia String Quartet, who flawlessly performed Tchaikovsky's String Quartet No.1 in D Major in Act One, and briefly returned in Act Two to perform a John Oswald piece inspired by Beethoven. But to have the 'Dances' show framed within the confines of the Modulus festival is where this dance show fell short. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: (Montreal / Dance) Le Délire Domestique

The everyday spectacular
by Chad Dembski, Editor, Dance

Le Délire Domestique is the latest creation by choreographer Deborah Dunn featuring seven solo dances focusing on daily domestic life. Based on rituals of cleaning, making food, and taking care of animals the seven dancers each take their own stab at the proposition. With a strong sense of how women are still forced into these roles of housekeeper even when also attempting to pursue careers. We all may say it’s a new world where men or women can take care of the home but there is still an automatic assumption that home duties fall to women.  

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Review: (Vancouver / Dance) Music Creates Opportunity

Here to Stay
by Jay Catterson, Editor, Dance

Bboyizm, the jubilant urban dance ensemble led by Yvon Soglo aka Crazy Smooth, exuded joy and enough swagger to delight the Cultch Vancouver audience this past Tuesday evening with the opening of Music Creates Opportunity. The immensely acrobatic moves by the lithe cast were not only executed with precision, but oftentimes impressively within confined spaces defined via panels of light or between the dancers themselves. Explosive hip-hop movement would finish with control and restraint in bold bboy stances, and later morph into other synchronized movement propelled from one breaker to another. 

Review: (Montreal / Dance) Nobody Likes a Pixelated Squid & Chorus II

Chorus II
A Beautiful Contradiction
by Chad Dembski, Editor, Dance
After one of the most bizarre mixes of two diverse companies I left the Cinquième Salle last night curious how programming decisions are made. Artists often have control over their own work to a certain extent but not always where and how their work is presented. Sometimes two very different shows are put together as a way to show two sides of similar research or at other times a common theme in a body of work. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Captured, October 21, 2014

Another stunning dance video by David Cooper. This time it is Karen Pitkethly with Karen Flamenco. Take less than three minutes to watch this and you will make your day better.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

First-Person: MovEnt Artistic Producer Julie-anne Saroyan on Dances for a Small Stage

John Oswald, Holly Small (photo by John Oswald)
Crossing the Divide: Music meets Dance 
By Julie-anne Saroyan

MovEnt’s Artistic Producer, Julie-anne Saroyan loves sharing dance with everyone.  She co-founded MovEnt in 2001 and kicked off the series Dances for a Small Stage in Vancouver.  Since then, Ms Saroyan has produced many dance events including all instalments of the MovEnt series Dances for a Small Stage in Vancouver, at the Canada Dance Festival (2006) and at BC Scene (2009) and The National Arts Centre in Ottawa.  Her background includes a degree in dance combined with technical theatre from York University and an internship in stage management at The Banff Centre. But it’s the excitement of sharing dance with regular people that inspires her to continue to develop and support dance artists and push boundaries that connects them with audiences. Ms Saroyan has established herself in the dance industry as a skilled and dedicated professional in identifying, developing, and mentoring emerging dance artists. She has successfully developed Dances for a Small Stage as a breeding ground for new choreographic talent and as a stable, sustainable artistic venture. Julie-anne Saroyan has had the pleasure of working with many dance artists and companies including  Ballet BC, Lola Dance, Margie Gillis, Emily Molnar and Crystal Pite/Kidd Pivot. She was also on Faculty at Simon Fraser University from 2005-2007 as the Production/Stage Management Instructor in the School for the Contemporary Arts and currently sits on several committees including the programming committee for PAL (Performing Arts Lodge) Theatre.

Dances for a Small Stage 31 will lift the curtain October 23 on an adventurous, audacious, outrageous group of artists. Presented by MovEnt with Music on Main as part of the 2014 Modulus Festival, Small Stage dancers will be joined by live musicians – a cheeky new twist for our small stage – who will share the spotlight side-by-side in an exhilarating evening of no-holds-barred, awe-inspiring music and dance collaborations. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Review: (Victoria / Opera) Das Rheingold

                                    (photo by David Cooper)
Girl Meets Wagner          
My Return to the Opera Oeuvre
by Morgan McPherson, Senior Contributor

I have an interesting relationship with opera. It used to be this strange, mystifying form of Art with a capital "a" to me. Serious stuff, foreign languages, fat ladies singing in horned helmets. I'm still a little intimidated when it comes time to go to an opera. I never feel well-enough dressed, am worried that the other patrons won't be friendly, or that I'll be out of place. Every time I go, however, I'm always reminded of what a gorgeous art form opera truly is. I've always been enchanted by the way it can feel classic and old, but also pleasantly young and fresh. I didn't know what to expect last night, but I was blown away.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Review: (Vancouver / Dance) Quantum

(photo by Gregory Batardon)

Innate Appreciation
by Jay Catterson, Editor, Dance
Born out of an artistic residency at CERN in Geneva, the largest particle physics laboratory in the world, Swiss choreographer Gilles Jobin's QUANTUM utilizes contemporary dance as metaphor for the forces that govern the universe: matter, time, gravity and space. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Captured, October 16, 2014

Falstaff - now at the COC - is a joyous opera, it is a lovely opera, it is a musical opera and here, without a whisper, Michael Cooper has once again captured the piece's essence in a riot of reds and golds floating in a sea of chiaroscuro. Gerald Finley, as the lecherous wino, is perfectly framed among the raised glasses and chandeliers, the antlers which are so much a part of Prince Hal's pal located downstage reminding us that this man is not to be trusted. Beautiful. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

From the Archives: Bass-Baritone Gregory Finney on starting a career

(photo credit: Scott Gorman)
F@*! I'm in the Wrong Fach
by Gregory Finney

“Move to Toronto: you’ll have no trouble finding work,” was the advice given when I asked for feedback after an audition. “Any other advice?” I asked, “Work on your singing.” Ouch!

I took their advice and moved to Toronto in the late summer of 2005. Being affable, self-effacing, bilingual and with a knack for creative wardrobe choices I found myself making some pretty decent money in the world of corporate wireless telecommunications. Steady income, benefits, vacations, and bonuses. There was only one catch, I was chained to a desk for 40 hours a week and not singing. 

Since I was having a ball, small-town gay loose in the big city, I kind of lost track of the first month or two I lived here. But I needed to sing again. I was acting in some underground theatre, in a role created with me in mind, and killing it, but I still wasn’t singing. 

Sunday, October 12, 2014

First-Person: Choreographer/Dancer Laurence Lemieux on UPLICA

(photo by Jeremy Mimnagh)

"great dance, but could never do that stuff"...until you do
by Laurence Lemieux

Dancer and choreographer Laurence Lemieux was born in Québec City and received her training at l’École Supérieure de danse du Québec and later at the School of the Toronto Dance Theatre, joining TDT in 1986 to 1994 and dancing in works by David Earle, Peter Randazzo, Patricia Beatty and Christopher House, as well as teaching in the School’s professional program. She has also danced for such choreographers as James Kudelka, Tere O’Connor, Margie Gillis, William Douglas, Jean-Pierre Perreault and Benoît Lachambre. She presented her first choreography in 1983, and since created more than 25 works. A Dora Mavor Moore Award winner for Outstanding Performance for a 1998 solo created by Christopher House (Cryptoversa), Lemieux was a 2013 nominee for her performance in James Kudelka’s From the House of Mirth, and a 2014 nominee for her performance in the remount of her own solo Les cheminements de l’influence (both presented by Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie), which launched The Citadel in 2012, the downtown Toronto home of CLC. Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie, founded in 2000 by Bill Coleman and Laurence Lemieux, creates both intimate, small-scale performances and spectacular stage shows featuring some of Canada’s greatest dancers, as well as now-legendary site-specific events in both urban and rural settings.

Enter the beautifully physical world of Gadfly, a dance company led by Apolonia Velasquez and Ofilio Sinbadinho. Rooted in Urban dance and residing in Regent Park, Gadfly is the dance company that appeared at the doorsteps of The Citadel in the spring of 2012. The Citadel is the home of Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie, where I live and work and play. It’s a centre for dance in Regent Park. When I met Apolonia and Ofilio our worlds immediately began to overlap.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Review: (Toronto / Opera) Madama Butterfly

l-r Patricia Racette, Ella Larivière, Elizabeth DeShong  (photo by Michael Cooper)
Straight to Hell
by Shannon Christy, Senior Contributor

Have you ever been used?  Perhaps you are a trusting person who took someone at their word and paid the price.  Maybe at this very moment you are alone in your apartment taking care of some plants you don’t even like for fear that they may die while their chief caregiver and your wife/husband/partner is away. Then maybe they don’t return. Well if you have been in that position Madama Butterfly is for you.  If you have not been in that position then Madama Butterfly serves as an excellent reason why you never want to be.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Review: (Toronto / Opera) Falstaff

l-r  Russell Braun, Gerald Finley (photo by Michael Cooper)
You Ain’t Nothing But A Hound Dog
by Shannon Christy, Senior Contributor

According to Webster’s Dictionary an “appetizer is a small dish of food meant to stimulate your appetite”. If Falstaff is the appetizer then Toronto is in for a spectacular season at the Canadian Opera Company. Falstaff, Verdi’s last masterpiece, is a light show done with ribald humour, superb performances and amazing sets.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Review: (Montreal / Dance) Hors Je

(photo by Ben Philippi)
Never Alone
by Chad Dembski, Editor-Dance

Hors Je is a duet.  A duet with the audience, a duet with video projection and a duet with a vast collection of dancers, both professional and non-professional. These duets take many forms over the evening, all inspired from a choreographic phrase that Dominique Porte gave them. Since there are almost 30 diverse collaborators the results vary quite a bit from each other and yield a lot of interesting results. A highly experienced dancer, Dominique Porte carefully considers each interpretation and finds a way to connect back to each one. She does this while also staying connected to the audience and speaking to us directly about her process, both past and present.