2005 ALBERTA DANCE EXPLOSIONS
Runs until February 26
Dancers Studio West
I wish I could dance. I wish I could walk onstage, lift my feet and perform! Whats come over me? Ive just been watching the 2005 Alberta Dance Explosions Festival of Choreography, thats all.
The festivals first "week," February 10 to 12, kicked things off with works by the likes of Melissa Monteros, Wojciech Mochniej, Elissa Houk, Lisa Calverley, Neah Kalcounis, W & M Physical Theatre and Shelly Hering, among others. Herings Catalyst opened the show, with music from Lamb, Kid Koala and Money Mark. The contemporary dance piece featured six dancers who started reclaiming their choreography through spoken words, seemingly repeating movements from each other.
Graziella and Rosanna Terracciano put together the flamenco-inspired Clearing the Path, Otra Vez, which mixed the Spanish dance form with contemporary dance. A strong narrative thread ran throughout the piece, but it did not appear to be a finished work. Live guitar and the banging of flamenco steps added to the pieces imagery, which also included the elongated flamenco dress and contorted bare feet.
One of the most striking numbers of the evening was Amber Teodorovici and Edgar Gilbert-Reyess Fallen. Using music set to Zen 1 and Aphex Twin, the piece played with isolated movement, lighting and the performers relationship to one another onstage. Starting with what could be two people waiting at a bus stop, illuminated by a street lamp, Fallen appeared to play on the desire for connection, without any physical touch happening until the very end.
The outstanding performance of Week One was W & M Physical Theatres Secret Places. Featuring the choreography of Monteros, performed by Ana Krysiak, this work explored the depth of sound, space and body, and their relationship to a journey. Beginning in a seemingly confined space, the piece changed with movement, emotion and lighting. Secret Places, along with Mochniejs Secret Moments (Part 2): Peace, are excerpts from a work to be developed further for W & M.
The second week of the festival brought The Divine Touch from the MoMo Project, a work worthy of an honourable mention. It featured the talent and enthusiasm of Jessie Bishop, Michael Ho, Jennifer Roberts and Trina Rasmuson. Like actor Roberts, Bishop proved to be a born performer and improviser. The delightful performances of the group based on movement design by Laurie Montemurro, and movement creation by the dancers themselves combined an eclectic chaos with fixed, defined dance.
Su-Lin Tsengs Silence Dialogue explored the idea of bounded space, externally and internally. Tsengs notes state: "The society we live in creates a boundary around us, and so we bind our feelings towards society." The piece began with a long rope lying on the floor, a noose fastened to its middle. Dancer Andrew Travis Taylor approached the rope at various times during the piece, standing inside its circle at one point and at another allowing it to drape around his neck. Taylor was also bound by the lighting, which illuminated a square on the floor, suggesting a confined space like a prison cell. Tsengs choreography combined fluid movement with isolated, staccato-like gestures. Giving added dimension to the struggle was composer Wei-Liang Zhangs "A Question to God," which complemented the dances transitions.
Jennifer Mahood both choreographed and danced Between Frames, a piece which focused on small, isolated movements by the hands that build up into larger narratives. Mahood mixed controlled movement with its antithesis, calm with panic, and explored different levels with different speeds and lighting effects. She also proved to be an engaging performer who communicates maximum expression with both her body and her face. Im eager to see more work by this young but well-travelled artist.
The highlight of the second week was Explosions veteran Kyrsten Blairs Keyed-Up, which brought new meaning to the concept of key parties. Blair coyly explored a range of different emotions and positions to the music of Sigur Ros and Clint Mansell. Whether she was tracing shapes on the floor, laying out keys or looking back at the audience, Blairs character was simply fascinating to watch.
Other performances included Love me or leave me, a tap number by Lisa La Touche; Megan Goles Walking Through Walls; Matthew Popoffs Surrendering to Paradise (a piece which deviated from his usual tongue-in cheek humour); and CStylzs The Directors Cut, which combined hip-hop and rap numbers with an array of costume changes, fights and other elements of spectacle, all choreographed to music from artists such as DMX and Busta Rhymes & Method Man.
And then there was AfterShocks, a selection of short dance pieces that followed the regular Week Two program. The two most memorable performances I saw were Teodorovicis Me and a Gun, a moving yet disturbing piece danced to Tori Amoss song about a rape, and Stephen Schroeders A Drop in Time, a spoof in which traditional balletic movement was applied to the music of Mercury Rev.
I cant wait to see what the festival has in store for its third and final week.