Dance Animal (Dance Animal) – 2010 Toronto Fringe 2010

By Adam Collier

A company called Dance Animal is producing a show at the George Ignatieff Theatre. Its title shares the company name. And it goes-up as part of Fringe.

Not only was the audience huge – Dance Animal has had strong word of mouth – it was one of the most age diverse and gender equal (many shows seem to have slightly more women than men) crowds I have been in while attending Fringe.

The electronica classic “I Like To Move It” blasts and the nine-member ensemble takes the stage.

“Dance Chicken?”

“Here!”

“Dance Gecko?”

“Here!”

“Dance Salmon?”

“Here” shouts the dancer (Anders Yates) leaping, undulating as his namesake.

A raucous round of cheers and applause from the audience followed each introduction. Dance Animal begins with the high-energy feel of a pep rally. And moves into – what I can only describe as – a choreographed sketch-comedy routine.

One number for example is a coquettish flirtation between a boy and girl that winds-up going as flirtations sometimes go. Another is a take the Russian royal court under the influence of a character with a long beard named Rasputin.

Between them a dance animal takes the stage. Each offers the wide-eyed story of how Dance Tiger (Robin Henderson) allows their inner-animal to come-out.

Dance Starfish (Marc Huppler) for example was a medical resident with an innocent pill-popping curiosity, when Dance Tiger came into his life at a Montreal rave.

The writing is down-to-earth but silly and irreverent (one of the sketches is set at an execution for example). And the ensemble – that the program notes credit with the writing – is irresistibly likable for the same qualities.

Choreography is credited to Robin Henderson, with the assistance of Vanessa Kneale (also known as Dance Hippo). They have a terrific instinct for physical humor. Though there are many familiar references and songs in the show (from Missy Eliot to the theme from “Spiderman”), there’s not a hint of imitation in the look of the work.

I left feeling, like Dance Ladybug (Francis Marcil) says on watching “Billy Eliot”, almost ready to dance on cars. It’s the rare show that has so much energy and inspiration that they rub-off on the audience. So I’d strongly recommend Dance Animal.

Details

– Dance Animal plays at the George Ignatieff Theatre

– It has one more performance: Sunday, July 11th at 1:45PM