Using two different styles of dance can open up a whole new understanding of movement for an audience. In Street vs. Stage playing at the Factory Theatre Mainspace as part of the 2015 Toronto SummerWorks Festival, producers Tina Fushell, Molly Johnson, Emily Law, and Sabina Perry deliver the joy of dance with a collection of incredible dancers.
Street vs. Stage is a dance battle without the competition, functioning as a showcase for two different but similar dance styles. The premise was originally conceived by the MichaelDouglas Kollektiv and produced by Zentre für Austausch und Innovation Köln (ZAIK) and is recreated using local talent.
The showcase, hosted by Keith Cole and DJ p ôñÿ, was split into three rounds.
Round 1 was the introduction. A dancer was invited first from the Street dancers, and then from the Stage. They were given thirty seconds to improvise movement to whatever music was provided. If you’ve ever wanted the chance to see the similarities and differences in street dance and stage dance, the back to back really showcased it. I was fascinated by the opportunity to compare and contrast every dancer’s unique performance.
Round 2 upped the ante by making each dancer complete a task in a one minute improvised dance. Each task was selected out of a hat and the dancers had the option of telling the audience what it was or not.
Some of the tasks were evident, including infiltrating the audience or baking and eating cookies. Others were hilarious such as “dancing like all 20 dancers transforming into Voltron.” And then there were really obscure items that I couldn’t figure out.
It felt strange to me that they made a big show of removing these tasks, reading them, and then never offering context to the audience. Also, considering how the dancers reacted to certain selections before they started dancing, I was curious about what they were.
By Round 3, however, my complaints were mostly forgotten. The last segment was by far my favorite.
Each dancer chose a partner from the opposing team and they created a duet on the spot. Some were chaotic parodies, some were incredibly moving, and others were awkward investigations of another body moving.
There was one duet where the audience was stunned to silence, where the two dancers — whose names I didn’t quite catch in my notes — moved like they’d always been partners. At the end of their performance, everyone erupted in applause.
In another, Street changed the rules, taking the stage two at a time and inviting two Stage members to the stage for a fun dance that mimicked wrestling.
Stage vs. Street was never about having winners or losers. Judging by audience reactions, however, a happy mix of young and old, all cheering and clapping along, I’d say the evening was a victory.
- Street vs. Stage played until August 16th at the Factory Theatre Mainspace (125 Bathurst Street)
- Individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Live Art Series tickets are free – $20. Tickets are available online at summerworks.ca, by phone at 888-328-8384, Monday – Friday 8:30am-5pm, in person at the SummerWorks Info Booth – located at SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst St). Open August 4-16 from 10am-7pm (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee)
- Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows
Photo of Street vs. Stage by Michael Douglas Kollektiv