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. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Captured, October 7, 2014

Verdi's Falstaff - about to open at the COC directed by Robert Carsen and starring the magnificent Gerald Finley - finishes with a flourish. You can find dozens of versions of the great aria, Tutto nel mondo é burla, on YouTube but you probably won't find any that are faster than this 2013 version from Korea National Opera. Normally the piece clocks in at 3m20 or even 3m40. This one races in at 2m50. Considering the lyrics are tongue-twisters (you try and say "burlone" fast three times) - it is more than amazing that the chorus keeps up. As the lyrics say, Everything in the world is a joke!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

First-Person: Sergio Augusto Flores on Opera Mariposa's Suor Angelica

(photo by Michelle Doherty)
Re-imagining a masterpiece
directing Puccini's Suor Angelica for the audiences of today
by Sergio Augusto Flores

Mexican-born actor, singer and director Sergio Augusto Flores trained at Methodica Acting Studio in acting and direction and graduated from Capilano University for music. As an acclaimed operatic tenor, he is a protégé of internationally renowned soprano Heidi Klassen and has performed to great critical acclaim throughout his home province of British Columbia and across Italy, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. His recent appearances include a highly successful self-produced concert with the Bowen Island Classical Concert Series; an English Arias concert with Opera Mariposa, where he was "a clear highlight of the evening" (The Vancouver Project); and Mozart’s Requiem with Capilano University, where he was "full of vigor, charisma, and infectious enthusiasm" (The Vancouver Observer). He is delighted to make his operatic direction debut this October with Suor Angelica, and he is also hard at work crafting a concert of Latin music for tenor, baritone, guitar and percussion. He is set to tour the Lower Mainland this December singing the role of The Gingerbread Witch in Opera Mariposa’s winter opera Hansel and Gretel.

This October, I will have the pleasure of directing Puccini's Suor Angelica with Opera Mariposa, a Vancouver company of emerging artists. I will also have the wonderful privilege of re-imagining the opera, creating a new vision and interpretation of what Puccini considered his finest score. 

The broad strokes of the most important changes were clear to me as I saw and heard the opera for the first time. I was entranced by Puccini's music every step of the way. Throughout the opera, I felt like the music was leading me towards what would happen next. Often I found myself holding my breath, hoping that the next lines would not disturb the scenes that fell into place so neatly in my mind. They never did, and it was a strangely satisfying feeling. There were silences where I needed them to be, and Puccini's sensitive changes led me to what I feel are the themes of the opera: the themes of love, forgiveness, and victory over death.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Review: (Toronto / Dance) Kiss & Cry

Michèle Anne de Mey and Jaco Van Dormael, creators (photo by Maarten Vanden Abeele)

When it Comes Together
by Kallee Lins, Editor - Dance

Kiss & Cry, created by Belgium’s Charleroi Danses and opening the Canadian Stage season, is a dance piece that takes a refreshingly wide view of the discipline. The aspect that can most readily be called dance—two hands performing duets (evoking a surprising range of dance styles) on miniature sets, filmed and projected onto a large screen above the stage action—is frequently overshadowed by the incredibly precise choreography of the spectacle at large. 

Review: (Montreal / Dance) Soif

The Art of Wanting
by Aleksandra Koplik, Senior Contributor

In honour of O Vertigo's thirtieth anniversary, one of Quebec's leading contemporary dance pioneers, Ginette Laurin, creates Soif. She brings to the stage eight phenomenal dancers: Audrey Bergeron, Sophie Breton, Charles Cardin-Bourbeau, Caroline Laurin-Beaucage, Louis-Élyan Martin, Robert Meilleur, James Phillips and Stéphanie Tremblay Abubo. Wearing nothing or black, they deliver the message of what wanting may look like. "Soif", meaning thirst in French, is what is performed on stage. The thirst for sex, affection, touch, dreams, liberty - the interpretation is in the eye of the beholder. Most of the scenes are coupled and performed in two's, which gives the body interaction more meaning and sort of mixes things up on stage, as the movements are not unanimous.

Review: (Montreal) The Muted Note (Dance)

Photo by Alejandro De Leon

The Freedom of Expression
by Chad Dembski, Editor - Dance

There was a moment in last night’s performance of The Muted Note that I felt transported back to the 1960’s.  I’m not sure if it was the jazz musical compositions, the choreographed animated through improvisation or the playful way these two worlds mixed but it felt of another time and place. There is a dark nature to a lot of contemporary dance that I see and it manifests itself often in works that are personal but pessimistic, angry and bleak. The Muted Note is on the opposite end of the scale, a joyous exploration of poetry and the possibilities of collaboration. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Review: (Montreal) elsewhere (Dance)

(photo by Jeremy Mimnagh)

Going Elsewhere together
by Sarah Deshaies, Senior Contributor

The first performer takes staccato steps in chunky heels, puncturing her jagged movements with electric spasms. The dancer who joins her is silkier, smoother… and in time, he begins to influence the first dancer, scooping her up and depositing her all over the stage.

The motif in elsewhere are dancers hiding behind semi-opaque sheets; each one steps out onto centre stage to dance and set their own pace. Followed by another performer who resets the pace, changes the game - so that the show is a layer cake of experience and influence.

News: (Toronto) Against The Grain announces fifth season (Press release)

News: (TO) Emi Forster, Benjamin Kamino named co-curators at Dancemakers (Press release)

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Essay: Approaching Dance, Part III

The Fine Art of Approaching Dance, Part III
by Kallee Lins (Charlebois Post Dance Editor)

[Introduction: Writing and talking about dance is something that intimidates a lot of people.  As a performance scholar (who is going on a lot of dates these days), I am often met with blank stares at the inevitable response to inquiries about my area of study.  Even worse, my conversational counterpart will attempt to hypothesize what the study of dance entails, asking something like, “PhD in dance? Is that mostly routines or do you look at historical and social context too?” 

Setting aside the fact that such a statement is reductive of both dance and academic inquiry, what these exchanges have taught me is that, in the eyes of many people, dance does not seem to function as art in the same way other disciplines do.  We expect art to speak to us, to tell us something about the world, to communicate something that cannot be articulated in more mundane ways. Why would artists spend years learning the conventions and techniques of their discipline and fostering their own aesthetic, and then sink weeks, months or even years into rehearsal or studio production if what they had to say could be articulated in an essay or press release?  And yet, observers continue to believe (whether they acknowledge it or not) that if what happens on a stage, canvas or screen cannot, in turn, be stated in words, then it does not have anything to say.  Dance, with its chronic underfunding and lack of visibility in schools compared to music, drama and the visual arts, is particularly susceptible to this fallacy.