By Hilary James
At 9:30 in the evening, on Tuesday, October 29th, myself and several devoted dance fans ventured downtown to the Vertigo Theatre. The show was a double bill featuring On Foot by Danny Nielsen, and Polyhedron by Catherine Hayward and Shayne Johnson.
As we walked into the theatre, three spotlights shone on the stage. One featured a saxophone, alto sax, and clarinet, another an upright bass, and the middle a 4 foot by 2 foot wooden platform. This small platform served as the stage for a huge talent: Danny Nielsen. We were led through a set of jazz songs in which Danny hit all the rhythms we didn’t know we wanted to hear. He has the ear and technique of a master, and was accompanied by 2 master musicians. I loved to see the interaction between the musicians and the dancer as they improvised with each other, played call and answer, and truly shared their love of music. A highlight of the night was their rendition of All of Me; I couldn’t help but smile and sway in my seat as they swung the classic jazz tune to perfection.
After a short pause, we were transported to an entirely different world, as Catherine Hayward and Shayne Johnson stepped on stage with their heads completely wrapped in fabric, so we could see only the shadowy features of their faces. They wore tap shoes on their feet, but it certainly was not a typical tap dance; they moved in an alien-like way, and the rhythm of their feet flowed in and out of the music. I got the impression of a lostness, in which the two dancers relied on each other to survive. About halfway through, the rhythm of the piece really started to pick up and we could pick out the intricate patterns driving the pace. It ended powerfully as Shayne and Katherine were slowly pulled away from each other, running, the sounds of their feet getting faster and faster as the light faded to black.
I think I speak for everyone in the audience when I say that we all had a sudden urge to quit our jobs and take up careers as professional tap dancers.
Hilary James is currently a third year dance major at the University of Calgary, with a concentration on Choreography and Performance.