Energy and variety on stage for Program Two of Fall for Dance North
Celebrating five years, Fall For Dance North returns to Toronto at Meridian Hall. With three mainstage programs, this review will follow program two of the festival. Program two features four eclectic works, all of which include live music. Fall For Dance North brings leading dance companies from all over the world to Toronto and makes them accessible to a wide audience as all tickets, for any night and any seat, are only fifteen dollars. Make sure to read our review of program one, which also contains more information about the festival.
The lively and supportive audience was hard to ignore at the opening night of the second program. As Executive Producer Michael Caldwell speaks on stage about this year’s festival, each point and reference he makes erupts in cheers and applause — especially when he mentions Ryerson University. Obviously, members of the school are in attendance to support classmates involved in the final piece of the night. A diverse audience of all ages and backgrounds join them; all are ready for a night of all different styles of dance.
Opening the performance was the vibrant and beautiful Shantala Shivalingappa of India and France. Performing a Tarangam solo along with live musical performance, including a flute, veena, vocals and percussion, Shivalingappa presents a work grace and strength. Part of the choreography is danced on a brass plate, which creates an effect of floating in the space, travelling without her feet ever leaving the ground. My only wish is that I could have sat closer, as the large theatre makes it challenging to see the beautiful facial choreography that comes with the genre.
Funky and soulful, Caroline ‘Lady C’ Fraser presents a street dance work that will warm your heart and have you grooving in your seat. With the strongest connection to their on-stage band re.verse, the five dancers present breaking, popping, locking and house dance styles in a new and colourful light. From fast footwork to slow bodily waves and rolls, this piece is a shout out to the younger generation in the audience, especially with an ending featuring a “hit the woah” viral dance move.
The National Ballet of Canada presents William Forsythe’s The Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude. Although personally not my favourite work of the choreographer’s, the performers seemed a little off as what I generally see from the company. There were some small mishaps and less the perfect form, although this company’s version of unclean is still way more impressive than other company’s at their peak. The piece is difficult to dance in its pressures, requiring balance, speed, and exaggerated angles. However, the rigid, circular tutus and bright green and purple costuming was my favourite of the night.
The final work was the strongest by far. Choreographed by Anne Plamondon of Montréal, FIDDLE EMBRACE is commissioned by the festival and danced by the Ryerson School of Performance. The large cast of eighteen fill the entire stage with weighted waves and back hinges that throw their bodies down to the floor. The movement is smooth, clean, and controlled. Dancers are precise in their bodily placement and intent in their focus. The piece is a slow build with smooth transitions between the group and solo/duet choreography. An exciting work to end the night, made even stronger by its supportive peers in the audience.
Although a great program overall, the timing of the night could have been a lot tighter. A late start and long pauses between performances made for a longer-than-needed night. I heard multiple audience members remark on their love for the works in the first acts, but thought they went on a little too long. The second act also opened with surprise guests from the CBC ‘Battle of the Blades’ show, but this might have been better suited as a pre-show or separate talk.
Overall, the festival is bringing out an incredibly diverse cast and audience. The energy present is nothing like I’ve seen in the Toronto dance community for years. I look forward to seeing the final program and encourage you to grab tickets quickly. Although presented in large theatres, the turn out is quite remarkable!
Photo of Anne Plamondon’s FIDDLE EMBRACE, Photo by Bruce Zinger.