Chameleon (A.H. Dance Company) – 2011 Toronto Fringe Review

I caught the opening show of Chameleon: The Experience of Global Citizens on Friday night. This New York-based dance company, directed by Alaine Handa, explored the ideas of home and identity for individuals who have been exposed to several different cultures while growing up.

There are three dancers in the production, including Handa herself. The dancers take turns beautifully dancing to various genres of music – including Southeast Asian gamelan sounds, French accordian music, and Latin American rhythms.

This show is primarily a dance intermixed with video clips of interviews of global citizens. I found their candour very interesting and relevant to the performance. When videos were not being shown, slideshows of photos would appear on the screen while the trio danced across the stage. I found the photos being shown sometimes lacked harmony and relevance to the topics that were simultaneously being discussed.

My favourite part of this show is the dancing – it is intimate, unique, and full of intent. The multimedia is a great partner to the dance as well.

The dancers used long strips of looped cardboard-looking material. I’m not sure what these were supposed to represent, but I felt that they detracted from the performance; the dancers were all petite, and these strips were clunky and seemed overpowering. I also wished they had identical costumes like in their promotional photos to lend a sense of synchronicity. I did expect more lighting effects and traditional dances from other cultures, but I enjoyed the patchwork of tales this performance tried to weave.

I asked an audience member what she thought of Chameleon, and she really loved it – particularly the life experiences and sensibilities that were showcased. This is a great show for anyone with a sociological interest in cultures and the way we perceive ourselves in relation to people we live amongst. It is definitely worth checking out. It is a living, breathing – and dancing – cultural essay.


Director: Alaine Handa
Choreographer: Alaine Handa & Dancers
Cast: Lauren Calzolaio, Alaine Handa, Anna Louise Herzog, Laura Lamp, Olivea Shure, Tsubasa Ogawa
Genre: Family, Dance
Venue 8 Helen Gardiner Phelan Playhouse, 79A St. George Street

60 min.

Fri, July 8 10:30 PM
Sun, July 10 7:15 PM
Tue, July 12 6:30 PM
Wed, July 13 4:00 PM
Thu, July 14 11:15 PM
Fri, July 15 Noon
Sun, July 17 5:45 PM


2 thoughts on “Chameleon (A.H. Dance Company) – 2011 Toronto Fringe Review”

  1. Thank you for coming to the show Tiffany! I hope you can check out another performance of it when we have a full cast of 6 later on in the week. (email me for a ticket :-) )
    The photography and the jewelry prop pieces are all representative of the experiences of the Global Nomad Photographers that submitted their stories thru photography and the jewelry designer created the prop pieces as a manifestation to constrict movement as a metaphor for her experience of being dragged around all over the world by her family. Something constricting and grotesque yet later turns into something beautiful.

  2. Hi Alaine,
    Thank you for your comment. It’s great to hear there will be more dancers, and I think your explanation of the jewelry explains its meaning more clearly to me now.

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