I had the good fortune of seeing the inaugural performance of ProArteDanza’s 2011 season at the Fleck Dance Theatre. It was my first show of theirs, but after last night‘s performance, I don’t think it will be my last.
The performance included four pieces of varying lengths, which push the boundaries of balletic and contemporary movement. Though they are all part of one show, they really require separate attention in this review.
“Verwoben” was the first performance of the evening, choreographed by Robert Glumbek. At nearly 30 minutes, it was the kind of piece that made me admire the dancers purely for their lasting power. The lilting music demands nearly continuous movement, and the three dancers onstage didn’t let up, even with frequent exits and entrances. In terms of the choreography, I especially liked a piece in the middle where they appeared to be “trapped” by the rectangle of lighting on the stage, trying to break out of it with their movements.
The second piece was “En Parallèle”, choreographed by the company’s artistic director Roberto Campanella. The piece is described in the program as an “encounter of blind chaos,” danced by one male and one female. It plays like a contemporary seduction dance – the piece is sultry at first, and becomes quicker, almost combative near the end. I liked how Campanella choreographed to silence almost as much as he did to the music.
After a short intermission, we saw “Pearline”, choreographed by Kevin O’Day. This was a fun duet performed by moonlight to the sound of chirping crickets (as well as blues music by Son House.) It was very playful and at times even humorous. This piece felt like a mating dance, as well, although in a much lighter way than “En Parallèle”. (To give you an idea of the tone, the moon was a circle of light with a sign that read “THE MOON”)
The final piece of the evening was “Fractals, a pattern of chaos”, choreographed by the National Ballet’s Guillaume Côté. This is a techno-inspired piece that really tests a group of eight dancers. As somebody with season tickets to the National Ballet, I thought I could see their influence in Côté’s work. His choreography is frenetic; at times, the movements are so quick and small as to be imperceptible.
The sets in this show are sparse, which is fine because it makes the dance the main focus. (As an aside, the Fleck Dance Theatre is a great place to view dance – which I suppose is obvious by the venue’s name. But as a small house with a steep rake to the seats, the audience is close enough to really see each muscle movement and hear each breath from the dancers.)
If there was any kind of overall theme to the evening’s pieces, it seems to be a study of physical laws. This seems to be a natural fit with an art form such as dance, and they take the concept literally, testing gravity and exploring formations and repeating patterms (Côté’s “Fractals” especially does this beautifully.)
I took another dancer, Amanda, with me to this performance. Though we both enjoyed the performance, we didn’t agree when we came to which piece we enjoyed most. (For me, it was “Pearline”, for her “Fractals.”) However, the pieces are so different from each other, it almost seems unfair to choose a favourite.
It would be hard to give individual attention to the many dancers involved in the show, especially as they were all so talented. I will, however, commend Mami Hata, who performed major roles in three out of the four pieces, performing more physical exertion in this one show than some of us do all year.
ProArteDanza’s show is also the first production in Next Step’s 2011/12 season. I encourage anyone who is a fan of dance to check them out.
– ProArteDanza performs Thursday October 6 to Saturday October 8, 2011m.
– The Fleck Dance Theatre is located on the third floor of the Queens Quay Terminal, 207 Queens Quay W.
– Tickets cost $22-$39 with a discount for students, seniors and members of the Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists.
– Tickets are available at the Harbourfront Centre Box Office, by calling 416-973-4000 or online at www.proartedanza.com
Photo: Tyler Gledhill and Marissa Parzei perform in “En Parallèle”.