Review: Series 2 – Rebel Yells (Dance Matters)

Dance Matters presents a series of highly physical and intimate works for Toronto audiences

Series 2 – Rebel Yells presented by Dance Matters is a collection of highly physical, intimate and thoughtful dance works. Performed at the Pia Bouman School of Ballet, the show contains five pieces, mainly performed through a contemporary dance medium, with the exception of a Kathak Indian solo dance work.

‘After the smoke settles, what will we be left with, if not joy?’ was the highlight of the night. Performed by Dedra McDermott with choreographer Rodney Diverlus, the two celebrate the joy of the Black community with the whole audience. You are greeted by hysterical laughter offstage before meeting the colourfully dressed playful pair with lollipops in their mouths.

Although the dancers have a great time on stage and with the audience, I was also taken aback by there outstanding physical performance of beautiful lines, extensions and fluidity. The performers continuously break the fourth wall between these beautiful dance sequences by entering the audience to ask for some gum or to see if some viewers could move just their left butt cheek.

Diverlus describes the piece as a rejection of the ‘fetishization of black pain,’ in which the pair celebrate after the lifetime of resistance and revolution. The title states this beautifully. I could easily watch a full-length performance by the two.

‘Mother Tongue’ choreographed and performed by Elke Schroeder presents an embodied riot as she thrashes around the stage in beautiful chaos.  Although Schroeder barely faces the audience, dancing facing the back wall or on the ground, you can intimately feel her silent screams.

The program notes reveal a quote from Medusa and ‘et aliae’ meaning also spoken by others. Schroeder tells a story “from the wrong side of history’ of the infamous Greek mythology figure. Would we read the story of Medusa differently today? Or should we? How would she and other women tell their stories differently than the writers of their time? Although this work is solid in movement and theme, I would love to see a dramaturg help Schroeder pull out even more meaning for herself and the audience.

Other works presented were ‘Delicate Touch,’ choreographed by Mairead Filgate,  which welcomes the audience into delicate moments between dancers, space, everyday objects and movements. Although a solo work, ‘(a)Muse(ment)’ performed and choreographed by Angela Blumberg, felt like a duet, as Blumberg dances and argues with a soundtrack of her voice.

Overall, Dance Matters provides an essential space for the Toronto dance community to showcase new works. Although the pieces vary greatly, it is easy for everyone to find a work that they would enjoy.


  • Rebel Yells is playing at the Pia Bouman School (6 Noble St, Toronto ON) until February 24, 2019.
  • Performances are at 4:00 pm.
  • Tickets are $14 – $18.
  • Tickets are available online or at the door.

Photo of Danny Wild and Marie Lambin-Gagnon, by John Lauener.