Review: Porch View Dances (Kaeja d’Dance)

Porch View Dances takes the front yard as its stage to create community theatre in Toronto’s charming Seaton Village.

A crowd gathered.

Its ratio of children and dogs to adults easily rivaled that of a Starbucks on a Saturday morning.

The focus was the modest steps and landing of 84 London Street; porch number one of five, as part of Porch View Dances, July 19th until July 22nd in Seaton Village.

Though not a veranda or a large covered platform, an image which may first come to mind with the word “porch,” it seemed well suited to this solo by Diana D’Amelio.

The work, aptly titled Volare as there is a bit of flight, was choreographed by Maxine Hepner and co-created by Ms. D’Amelio.

Ambling to the next location – 416 Clinton – for Chip, Grro, Venk, Yenk, Yenk, I felt like I was in the midst of a street fair. Volunteers blocked off a sizable chunk of Clinton, so there were no cars. And the audience procession was, I’d guess, a hundred people.

Chip, Grro, Venk, Yenk, Yenk, choreographed by Nova Bhattacharya, is powered along by stomping and a chorus of sounds, the latter of which share the title of the work.

I’m a sucker for ritual like this in performance. And I was totally charmed by the cast of performers, including Jacqueline Chin-Loy, Amarai Endes, Lori Endes, Devin Leishman, Flynn O’Dacre, and Adda Shapiro.

Throughout the show, the ambiance of Seaton Village, evidently a haven for families, swept over me.

For example, while Robin Noya and Margo Small performed to laughs in Boogie Back, the fourth number of the Porch View Dances, off down the street a group of boys played tag.

“You’re it!”

No, I said ‘T.O.’”

“He said ‘T.O.’ I heard,” added another little voice.

And, there were intermittent barks and yowls from neighborhood pooches, big and small, as the music played.

On the note of music, I was very impressed by how technically fluid Porch View Dances turned-out.

Considering the outdoors must pose a challenge for setting-up speakers and finding the right volume, the audio was crisp and right on cue. Sharon Dighnova deserves kudos for her technical direction.

The evening concludes with a massive, collective performance in Vermont Square Park. It underscored, in my mind, what already seemed like a major communal effort, that showcases a gorgeous neighborhood.

Shows like this, of such an ambitious nature, whether they succeed or fail artistically are always interesting I find, and Porch View Dances doubled as a cool, informal walking tour of Seaton Village.