The Alberta Dance Showcase; or a search for mastery and intrigue.

By Mark Kunji Ikeda

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.

In this context, physical mastery implies an awareness of space, rhythms, and the body; it includes both technical precision and difficulty. The perfect example of physical mastery could be glimpsed in Kimberley Cooper’s work with Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, an exert from Better Get Hit in Your Soul featuring seven company members that showed why DJD is worthy of their dazzled followers and upcoming performance space. On another end of this particular spectrum, physical intrigue implies a focus on character development, performative task, or narrative; it draws in an audience with Aristotelian plot points, or clear motivations. Krista Posyniak’s physical ode to Canada exemplifies this concept while ushering the audience through the Great-White-North-isms that light-heartedly embrace our stereotypical behaviours while slowly undressing from a tundra-ready parka to a white-tailed deer bodysuit. 

Each Albertan performer found their niche among this spectrum, navigating their technical ability and artistry to relate an aspect of humanity. The most successful works were aware of this balance and pursued each with a truthful rigour; I particularly commend the works of The Good Women Dance Collective and Pamela Tzeng as beacons of young dance professionals who excelled through balance between physical mastery and intrigue. As Albertan dance continues to survive in a politically and geographically disparate climate, I trust the physical skills alive at the heart of this afternoon performance will prove why Albertan Dance will be showcased on grander scales in the near future.

Mark Kunji Ikeda is a Calgary based artistic chameleon, who has trained extensively with Denise Clarke of One Yellow Rabbit, is part of DSW's Dance Action Group, and was awarded the Enbridge Emerging Artist Award in 2015 by the Calgary Arts Development Authority.

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