Dreamwalker Dance Company’s current presentation All of our Dreaming, dramaturged by Sarah Chase opens with an intimate performance in the antechamber of the theatre of Grace Theatre Centre. The audience sat in a semi-circle on the floor, cushions, and camp stools enclosing company founder and artistic director Andrea Nann as she delivered In a Landscape, a solo choreographed by Peggy Baker that comes across as highly personal. This modern dance piece is accompanied by a rippling piano piece of the same name by John Cage. The walls and ceilings are draped with back-lit sheets, upon which were projected stencils of flowers and patterns (designed by Elysha Poirier), heightening the cocoon-like feel of the space. The experience, characterized by impossibly supple and graceful gestures by Nann, set the tone for the performances that followed on themes of nature, transformation and spiritual discovery.
After Nann’s powerful opening solo, the audience is guided into the theatre. Each performer engages in autobiographical storytelling juxtaposed with modern dance and original music developed by an experience team of creative collaborators.
When the audience is seated in the theatre, the performance continues with Caught up in Dreams, songs by Josh Finlayson and Andy Maize performed by Andy Maize. Maize sits alone with his guitar in the centre of the sizeable space. Singer-songwriters pieces in a folky vein are performed in a straightforward and open manner by Maize, whose voice is easy to listen to and clearly engaged the audience.
After this, Nann returns to the stage for another solo, paired with a moving story about the death of her first child just before the birth of her second child who is now a young man in his 20s. The piece entitled A Crazy Kind of Hope is conceived, choreographed and directed by Sarah Chase. While the story is gut-wrenching it is also inspiring because it celebrates her daughter’s brief life and finds the joy within the pain of this devastating experience. The dance solo echoes the emotional themes of forging strength from grief. Nann’s confident and precise movements are captivating.
The final piece, Dual Light, consisted of solos and a duet performed by Yuichiro Inoue and Brendan Wyatt, choreographed by Andrea Nann, and dramturged by Sarah Chase. Inoue’s effortless control over his lithe physique is obviously the result of a lifetime of high-level training, and yet there is a raw, primal quality to his movements that speaks to the viewer in a way that transcends the skills of formal training. The performance is visceral and provocative and Inoue oozes performative electricity on stage.
Inoue and Wyatt’s duet was similarly magnetic, featuring athletic lifts and floor work that straddled the lines between breakdance and modern dance.
On the whole this was a well-designed and sophisticated performance. I am not a seasoned modern dance-goer, but this was an engaging and impressive experience. A great opportunity to get a feel for modern dance for newcomers and sure to delight aficionados. Dreamwalker Dance Company is one to keep an eye on.
- All of our Dreaming is playing until April 13, 2019 at Grace Theatre Centre (383 Jarvis Street, Toronto, Ontario)
- Show times are 8:00 PM April 9-13, with an additional relaxed performance matinee at 4 PM on April 13 .
- Ticket prices range from $22 – $30. General Admission: $30, Students/Seniors/CADA/Arts Workers: $22
- Tickets are available online.
Photo of Brendan Wyatt and Yuichiro Inoue by by Jeremy Mimnagh