All posts by Mark Mann

Everyday Oppressions (The Cheshire Unicorn) 2015 Toronto Fringe Review

Photo of Everyday Oppressions by The Cheshire Unicorn

In the closing monologue of Everyday Oppressions, a work of dance-theatre by The Cheshire Unicorn on stage at the Toronto Fringe Festival, audience members are invited to acknowledge their privilege. Let me do that now: I’m a straight white man in my early thirties. I am not routinely subjected to the type of everyday oppressions that are the subject of this performance.

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Review: Gridlock (Larchaud Dance Project)


This immersive dance performance explores pleasure from aggression on stage in Toronto

Art worlds tend naturally to implode. Whatever the medium, practitioners veer toward making work that’s best appreciated by their peers, not wider audiences. It’s an understandable impulse and can lead to exciting work, but ultimately it has a shrinking effect. After a while, only insiders pay attention.

Contemporary dance in Toronto seems to have suffered this fate. The audiences are small, the runs are short, and the money is scarce. Since 2004, Larchaud Dance Project has made a concerted effort to push back, combining mainstream influences with contemporary techniques to entice new audiences to dance. Their latest offering, Gridlock, showcases the exciting in-house style that has emerged from this effort.

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Review: This Is a Costume Drama (The Dietrich Group)


Dance ode to playing dress-up, This is a Costume Drama plays on stage in Toronto

This Is a Costume Drama is not a costume drama. There are lots of costumes in this gruellingly fun piece of dance theatre, making its world premiere at the Harbourfront Centre, but no drama. In order for there to be drama, there has to be something to care about. Something has to matter.

Of course, no costume drama is going to call itself a costume drama. So what is this show, if not that? It’s a display. Choreographer DA Hoskins and his collaborators in The Dietrich Group offer audiences little else but a vision of their own droll posturing. They’re good at making a spectacle of themselves, and no doubt some people will enjoy watching them do that.

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Review: locus plot (Peggy Baker Dance Projects)

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Peggy Baker’s newest dance piece takes on mathematics as aesthetics on stage in Toronto

Veteran choreographer Peggy Baker has been creating dance in Toronto for more than forty years, but until now has only made shorter works, most of them solos. She’s an artist who understands the power of doing just what she means to do, no more and no less. It takes courage and intelligence to be that clear.

But with every choice she’s made over the last four decades, it seems that something else has been at work for Baker, something slowly building beneath the surface that’s now being let out.

On April 24, locus plot debuted at the Betty Oliphant Theatre, Baker’s first ever full evening ensemble performance, and her biggest, longest, and most ambitious work to date. What inspired this sudden, late career expansiveness? Mathematics.

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