Roy Assaf enjoys circularity. Whether it is three men with linked arms rotating through quick patterns of the feet, a body spinning around its own axis, or a compositional arc that repeats almost verbatim a striking beginning cross, the circle runs deep for Assaf. Even when very obvious nods to folk dance movements surface in the work or four hands relentlessly attempt to join but fail, such moments rarely resist this inevitable circularity.
Alberta’s artistic sensibilities were on display with a delightful assortment of performative teasers at the Alberta Dance Showcase Wednesday afternoon. From performances ranging from emerging independent artists to -arguably - our provinces’ most successful company the showcase gave a hint of what Albertan artists are exploring. As you may expect the interests, methodologies, and organizing principals of these works were as diverse as our weather patterns; however, the commonality was an interplay between physical mastery and intrigue.
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 Nielson, and Polyhedron by Catherine Hayward and Shayne Johnson.
He walked onstage – a straight-legged, up-shouldered, plaid-shirted, short-haired, regular-looking white boy. Then he blew me away.
Tap dance is not easy. In its true essence, it is more music than movement; more ear candy than visual delight or stimulation. This is because the dancer has four taps (heel and toe of each foot) to generate intricate rhythms while actually bearing the weight of the body. If you have to think about weight transfer to free up the “other foot” to make a sound, you will never be a tap dancer.
A fusion of many art forms, Stunning Ancient Time Warpers combines live and recorded music, spoken words, and movement. Speaking as someone who has never witnessed a performance which combines art forms, I was completely unprepared to be so moved and inspired. I found it difficult at times to keep my ears open to the words and sounds, as I naturally gravitate to what is clearly visible, but when I reminded myself to pay attention to everything else as well, I was in awe of how seamlessly all aspects moulded together.
Denise Fujiwara’s EUNOIA submerges the audience into a rare side of contemporary dance, where dance is fused with poetry and speech. She uses the work of Christian Bok, with boundary-pushing choreography that rivals the individuality of his poetry. The dance is split into chapters, each based on a specific vowel, and the performers use excerpts from Christian Bok’s poetry, with one person speaking while the others are dancing alongside.
It is always interesting to consider the relationship between music and dance, especially when it happens in a live performance. Dance is often considered a response to music, but sometimes music can be a response to the dance that is happening onstage. In some cases, the two art forms go back and forth and seemingly 'talk' to each other...