Alberta Dance Showcase

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Alberta Dance Showcase today, as part of the Fluid Festival.  Today’s Showcase was Part 1 of a two part show.  As my second dance show, I was curious to see how it would compare to the first dance show I’ve ever attended, yesterday’s Prairie Dance Circuit.

Much like yesterday, I found myself surprised at the versatility of the performances in the show.  Contemporary dance seems to be a welcoming genre, open to the inclusion of other media, such as film, theatre, art, and music.

From this particular show, I was torn between two performances to hold as my favorite.  I particularly enjoyed the first performance, Melissa Monteros’ Excerpt from Triangular Theories of Love, and the third, Jason Stroh’s bang/crunch.

Excerpt from Triangular Theories of Love was a humorous look at relationships, and their patterns of behaviour.  There was a particularly striking section of the performance, emphasizing the relationship between two particular performers, involving a long rope and a bunch of flowers.  This was a poetic image, capturing a lot of feeling in one little segment.  The other section I found most beautiful was when one of the four men was making music by hitting firewood with what appeared to be xylophone mallets.  This performance also incorporated a video component, and some more theatrical sections.

bang/crunch (Jason Stroh) was an intriguing solo, performed by Hilary Maxwell.  “bang/crunch examines the awakening and ultimate demise of a being.  We witness the being struggle in controlling muscle and neuronal functions. […] Over time, the being becomes overwrought with stimulus causing an eventual breakdown of both body and spirit.” (From the program.)  To me, the piece seemed to be about reacting to unseen stimuli, whether they were in the body or not.  It was a sad and yet heroic struggle, but in the end, the performer gives in to the exhaustion of trying to (re)gain control of her own body.  It was also interesting to me that to move like that, the performer must have substantial control over her own body, but yet, in the work, it seems involuntary.

I also thought it was especially interesting with Heidi Bunting’s performance, that the work shown was actually a work in progress.   She said she would rather show the work in it’s unfinished form (in silence), than slap some music into the background.  She thought it felt untrue to the work, and I would have to agree. It did surprise me, though that most of the piece could be choreographed without picking music off the bat.  Also, I think it takes a lot of courage to publicly show work that is not finished, but I also think it was important to let us (the audience) know that, because it influences how we see it.

Anyway, again, I think dance is something I could definitely get more into, and now that I’ve had a little more exposure to contemporary dance, my whole perception of the genre has changed. Tomorrow’s show, Part 2 of the Alberta Dance Showcase, promises to be just as inspiring!

Prairie Dance Circuit

Tonight I attended the Fluid Festival‘s Prairie Dance Circuit!  It was definitely an interesting show, much different than the events I am used to attending.  As a visual artist, most of my “culture” comes from attending art openings, museums and galleries, and, once in a while, the theatre.  I must admit that this was my first actual dance show, although I get the feeling that the genre might be more experimental than I thought. Or possibly this show is more experimental than the genre.

Or, maybe I just had an outdated idea of what dance is.  I’m not sure what I was expecting exactly, but the Prairie Dance Circuit wasn’t really it.  It wasn’t at all stuffy, or boring, or girls in tutus.  Actually, clothing was an interesting common thread running through the line-up: from the amazingly furry high heels of Robin Poitras’ soft foot, to the enigmatic hoodie of Nicole Mion’s dancer in Quiver, to Brian Webb’s onstage “wardrobe changes,” to Davida Monk’s Under Cover of Darkness, where the focus of the dance is the dancer’s relationship with her clothing.

My favorite, though, of the 5 performances, did not share this clothing thread as strongly.  Brent Lott’s The Occasion of Our Passing was an enchanting duet between a male and a female dancer.  The performance seemed to illustrate a perhaps unspoken dialog between two people as they grow older… through the excitements of love, life and growing up/ growing old, highlighting their independent struggles and epiphanies, and their changing relationship with one another.  There were some particularly impressive moments where the positions of the performers were dependent on each other, using the tension between them and even their limbs to support each other.

The show was really more diverse than I was expecting- an interesting cross between dance, music, theatre, and even art.  It was an unusual experience for me, and I’m glad I went, and will likely go to more dance events in the future.  (Actually, tomorrow, I will be going to see the Alberta Dance Showcase! Stay tuned!)

——

This is a guest post I wrote for the Fluid Festival’s blog…. see it here!