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Peggy Baker’s Gallery: Considering land | body | breath at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Peggy Baker Dance Projects By Ben Portis land / body / breath Peggy Baker Dance Projects

In May 2014, Peggy Baker’s land | body | breath was performed in the Thomson Collection galleries of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Reviewer Ben Portis contextualizes the work, by considering Baker’s extensive performance history at the gallery.



By Kate Morris Vancouver Queer Film Festival

Frankie, the newest and youngest member of an exciting contemporary dance company, lives in fear and dread. At work he’s mocked by the choreographer and told to “dance like a man.” Outside of work the city offers no relief: a newspaper headline asks “Should Gays Be Quarantined?” and fresh graffiti screams “AIDS Faggot Die!” The year is 1985, the place San Francisco, and the epidemic has just begun. With his bright yellow Walkman clipped on his belt, Frankie retreats into a music-filled trance.


Room with Sticks

Tedd Robinson, Ame Henderson and Charles Quevillon By Philip Szporer Room with Sticks Festival TransAmériques 2014

The first thing that struck me about Room with Sticks was the space. The locale, Espace Libre, a former fire station and once home to famed Carbone 14, was transformed into an intimate, open and very white space. (The piece has also been presented in a curling arena.) The back wall was entirely covered over in white paper, while dried branches, sticks and blocks of wood were spread out over the floor. Neon lighting gave the space an artificial glow.


No Blessed Light

By Lucy M. May Au sein des plus raides vertus Festival TransAmériques 2014

I leave the theatre after Catherine Gaudet’s Au sein des plus raides vertus needing to move on and to be alone. The same feeling befell me following Je suis un autre, her 2012 piece, which shares many of the same structures and compositional elements. However, the effect of this new piece on me is much darker. It’s as if I have just witnessed an incomplete exorcism.


Antigone Sr.

Trajal Harrell By Philip Szporer Twenty Looks or Paris Is Burning at the Judson Church (L) Festival TransAmériques 2014

As choreographer Trajal Harrell tells the audience at the start of the show, his series Twenty Looks or Paris Is Burning at the Judson Church, comes in eight sizes. We were about to see Antigone Sr., which is the large variety. Regardless of the size, the proposition remains the same: “What would have happened in 1963 if a voguer from a New York house ball strutted downtown to Greenwich Village from Harlem to perform alongside the collective of Judson Church postmodernists?”



Nicolas Cantin with Ashlea Watkin By Philip Szporer Klumzy Festival TransAmériques 2014

Nicolas Cantin seems to like things to percolate. In Klumzy, everything is set on a low simmer. The choreographer embraces a gentleness of spirit – something that he’s adopted in his work since last year’s CHEESE, a piece that grappled with ideas about memory.


Frolicking through History

Meg Stuart / Damaged Goods By George Stamos Built to Last Festival TransAmériques 2014

Time flies during American choreographer and dancer Meg Stuart’s masterfully crafted two-hour-long Built to Last. It’s a sophisticated piece crossing boundaries between theatre, dance and performance art. Travelling through time as movement aesthetics shift across eras, and swinging between everyday attitudes and extravagant fantasylands where abstract dance sections are executed with precision, but formality dissolves into moments of humour and vulnerability.


Eat All You Want/The Top?

Gearshifting Performance Works By Holly Harris Eat All You Want/The Top?

In her latest offering, the cryptically titled Eat All You Want/The Top?, Jolene Bailie invites her viewers to step into a cake-fuelled world straddling both theatre and dance.


Creaturely Empathy: Intimacy, Sensation & Duration

Antonija Livingstone with Jennifer Lacey, Dominique Pétrin, Stephen Thompson By Lucy M. May Culture, Administration & Trembling Festival TransAmériques 2014

Through the backstage area, we tiptoe in our socks into L’Agora de la danse. It has become a de facto gallery space for the performance of Culture, Administration & Trembling. Europe-based, North American choreographers Antonija Livingstone and Jennifer Lacey, with Dominique Pétrin and Stephen Thompson, are at once its curators and its artists.


Dancing with the Devil-May-Care

Generations of Dance at Old & Young and Reckless Together (#32) By Marie France Forcier Edition # 32 - Old & Young and Reckless Together

Older & Reckless, veteran dance artist Claudia Moore’s brainchild, is celebrating the launch of its fifteenth season, and the crowd’s appreciation for the long-running series is palpable and contagious.


The Subtlety of Solitude in Solitudes Solo

By George Stamos Solitudes Solo Festival TransAmériques 2014

It’s been said that placing classical music in a performance will bring it instant cultural value. It’s a device often used in dance and performance milieus. However, in contemporary dance it can be a problematic choice, as the work will undoubtedly inherit the cultural context of the classical reference and challenge the contemporaneity of the dance.


Snakeskins – A Fake Solo by Benoît Lachambre

Benoît Lachambre By Lucy M. May SNAKESKINS Festival TransAmériques 2014

It’s the morning after the closing of Snakeskins, a “fake solo” created by choreographer and dancer Benoît Lachambre, which played for two nights during Montréal’s Festival TransAmériques. Lachambre joined me at Place des Arts for a dialogue about the work and my impressions. When we meet, I take a moment to admire the intensity of his brilliant blue eyes, his long ash-coloured hair and uneven gait. In them, I recognize aspects of the same person who astonished me onstage with both physical endurance and humility. Lachambre is stooped but resilient; a shape-shifter.


Enter the Phoenix

tiger princess dance projects By Bridget Cauthery SoloDuet

In her letter from the artistic director, Ng explains the genesis of Metamorphosis of a Solitary female Phoenix and Magnetic Fields, the two pieces in SoloDuet. Metamorphosis first debuted as part of Christopher House’s 12 Solos commissioning project for Toronto Dance Theatre in 2007 while Magnetic Fields, on the other hand, is a new work for dancers Mairéad Filgate and Luke Garwood.


(Nevertheless …)

Fujiwara Dance Inventions By Ben Portis EUNOIA

The first choreographic adaptation of Christian Bök’s pièce de résistance, his conceptual prose poem Eunoia (2001), as conceived by Denise Fujiwara is tremendously delightful, witty and entertaining, yet nevertheless … somehow … a letdown.

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