Benjamin Kamino’s naked, dancing, death-head-tattoo adorned body greeted the audience as we entered la Nouvelle Scène for Thursday’s 7pm show. The stage was clad in white paper that ran up the back wall and a dinky ghetto blaster issued forth some creaky old crooner tunes. Kamino’s neo-primitive/hippy/ecstatic dance dwindled to an end and there he stood vulnerable before us, eyes scanning the gathered crowd, slowly taking us all in. Dipping into a slow back arch his mouth suddenly popped open and rivers of black gushed forth and streamed down his body. I swear I heard a collective gasp…

These first three movements of Nudity.Desire – the voyeurism, confrontation, and surprise/shock – created a wonderful palette upon which the rest of the piece – indeed, the whole evening – would unfold. Perhaps there’re too many “bath salts” headlines these days, but I couldn’t help thinking that what ensued were the demented ramblings of a chemically induced trip… Graphic images that ranged from seeking to self-identify (tracing his outline on the paper wall and floor), the collapse of nature (a surprising drawing of a tree being torn asunder), and being completely awash in paper (the arts administrator in me identified with that one) poured forth like a storm of the imagination. All of these images came with the dancer’s moaning, guttural search for language, the desire to connect & relate his experience.

Overall Kamino’s work was ghoulish and troubling. There’s a fascinating beauty in his out of control state of seeking combined with his struggle against (and willingness to succumb to) gravity. At the end he breaks the spell – my show mate suggested he wanted to let us know that he wasn’t actually totally wasted – and emerges from his whirl wind of paper singing in an almost melancholic voice. I found the transition abrupt, and lamented the breaking of the spell that he had quite masterfully ensnared us in. But wow, what a ride!

Toronto Dance Theatre followed suit with a trio choreographed by Jean-Sebastien Lourdais. I spoke with JS while queuing up for the show and asked if we were going to see something representative of his style. The short answer is “yes”, the long is that he had 40 hours to work with the group and that a decent chunk of this time was invested getting the dancers to the departure point of his physical process and that he was happy with the transmission of the physical vocabulary.

I’ve been hearing about Lourdais’ work for quite some time and was impressed with the highly detailed struggle that emerged from his dancers’ bodies. The opening soloist in particular was supercharged with restraint and a wellspring of movement contained within. What came out was like a torrent of locking/popping being forced through a much too small aperture, the pressure bubbling saliva to the surface. Étrange was indeed strange: wonderful physicality fighting its way out of three bodies and, once emerged, became confrontational between the bodies themselves.

Overall, the work felt like a window into a work, not complete unto itself, more like we’d been dropped into something midstream and then been plucked out before seeing what was around the corner. The abrupt ending was unsatisfying, but the time shared floating in their world was well spent. It raises issues around invention – of movement, atmosphere, image life/world… It’s one thing to develop fascinating characters/movement/worlds, but what do we do/say with them once they exist?

I’d say the two works at la Nouvelle Scène were wonderfully theatrical, beautifully performed, and full of dark, brooding, angst, but only Kamino’s felt complete.

Off to the National Arts Centre for the 8:30 show featuring ODD (the Ottawa Dance Directive) with works by Yvonne Coutts and Tedd Robinson. After all that earlier suffering & struggle, Yvonne Coutts Fracture was a welcome release valve full of playful dance. Her trio began life as a duet, so we’re told by one of the performers who then spends most of the piece trying to fit in, but evolved into a trio when a bit more money became available. While this information was delivered with great humour, I can’t help but feeling the choreographer is being wonderfully cheeky about our current government’s thorough lack of comprehension (and support!) for the arts.

Whatever her intention, Coutts’ themes of identity and social cohesion were what this performance was all about, and her sense of humour was thoroughly refreshing.

Tedd Robinson’s Trembleherd Bells carried on the evening’s overall feeling of struggle and angst, though like Yvonne’s work, incorporates humour as a means of disarming the deep pathos embodied within. Robinson is a master at this game: his little family of 5 performers (4 dancers and a musician) so uniform and comic in their energy and intensity, it is only as the work progresses that we can identify the deep sense of panic that has been bubbling below the surface. White costumes on a white patch of floor, it is almost like we are looking through a microscope and some isolated petri-dish community exploring the limits of their boundaries but seeking to signal whatever lies in the beyond. Is it the future that is so frightening? The unknown that lies just out of reach? Uncanny how Tedd wraps his tentacles around the audience, at first it is like a caress but eventually we realise he has us in his clutches and we’re going for a ride.


On a closing note, the post-show receptions have been fun: so nice to have a place to gather immediately post-show. It’s not Chez Jack, but after too many years of little buzz, it’s welcome relief to walk into a room where the vibe is up and dance people are celebrating all the hard work that we do.

(My night #3 at the Canada Dance Festival)

OK, so I’m a pig. Thanks George (Stamos) for helping reveal my inner reality! It’s not like I was consciously hiding it, but yesterday’s activities (too much sitting in closed rooms with easy access to platters upon platter of sugary concoctions) ushered me to that single moment where my hand unthinkingly reached forth and snatched a pink, butter cream laden cupcake from its silver serving tray and unceremoniously stuffed it into my mouth. But how could I resist? There was George talking about how cupcakes and burgers were the new rage, and voila! his beaming face in front of mine tempting me to the dark side with his sugary offerings.

In all fairness, I wasn’t the only one; in fact there was a whole room full of people awaiting the tray’s arrival so that they too could fulfill their desire (for cupcake). Why, Sara Coffin even asked for another, though she claimed it was because her first was vanilla and she ardently wished for chocolate.

And so unfolds Stamos’ LikLik Pik, a playful look at the animal power of the human body and features the delightful onstage pairing of Stamos and Dany Desjardins. The work is rollicking good fun but is by no means limited to humour and sweets. There’s a sense of ritual that emerges in both the sound score and the dancers’ repetitive gestures, and as with Raven Spirit’s work from the night before, the need/desire to connect with the audience becomes more than apparent. Enter the cupcakes…

George Stamos’ evolution as an artist has arrived at a wonderful place where his grasp of choreographic tools and dramatic structure fully serve his stunningly rich imagination and highly inventive movement vocabulary. LikLik Pik is provocative, poignant, and full of temptation.

Licking butter cream off its fingers, the audience streamed out of La Nouvelle Scène and made its way up Rideau St to the National Arts Centre to catch Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers. Their show, 97 Positions of the Heart, choreographed by Brent Lott, was inspired by the life and writings of Elizabeth Smart. A true fan of Can Lit, I am embarrassed to admit that I have never read Smart’s work; following this show I am full of desire to do so!

Unlike Stamos’ work, which is firmly rooted in the here-and-now of contemporary dance, with this work Lott’s artistic direction is grounded in the past. For whatever it’s worth, Brent is the first one to admit this. Whether their different approaches simply reveal two distinct artists’ voices or are symbolic of work originating from two wildly different communities, I find their individual styles served each piece admirably.

Lott worked with poet Jaik Josephson to create a verbal score that acts as through line upon which the wonderfully talented dancers navigate the piece. The text was rich and heavy – as it seems was Smart’s life – and the dancers pulled it off with aplomb. All too often, when dancers are required to open their mouths the results are less than satisfying. Dramaturge Debbie Patterson must’ve cracked the whip hard cuz this ensemble thoroughly engaged the public with their ability to deliver Josephson’s evocative text. A simple decor and lighting served to put focus where the focus needed to be: on the richly woven physical performances of the six dancers and the words they so deftly embodied.

In the post show chat, Brent Lott revealed that he didn’t want to create just a dance piece or even a dance/theatre piece, but that he wanted to embrace the spirit of Smart’s writing, particularly as revealed in By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, and transcend (or defy!) easy categorical boundaries. In this, Lott and his wonderfully talented group of collaborators were bang on.

Seeing these two contrasting works back to back was quite satisfying. On one hand, an artist applying current technologies and aesthetic research to create work from the edge; on the other, an artist using tried and true practices to evoke a sort of physical biography of an iconic figure (while begetting the question: do we really need to reinvent the wheel time and time again?). Two very different works that illustrate the diverse range of our national dance identity. Holy hallelujah the Canada Dance Festival exists so such things can be put in perspective.

Back in November, right in the middle of a series of three shows, my partner Elise and I had a baby (well, she did the heavy lifting) and for the second time in my life I was

Camille and proud papa totally diggin' parental leave

awestruck by the magnificent force of women in this most primal act of life. As we knew that Elise (a fabulous dancer) had a contract to perform with Lisa Phinney at the Canada Dance Festival in June, I asked my Board for a parental leave of absence effective mid-February (when Elise anticipated being ready to get back into dancerly shape).

Fast forward seven months and here we are in the nation’s capital… toute la famille, grande mère inclus. Me, freshly returned to work following 3.5 months off with my gorgeous daughter #2, and Elise in killer shape ready to rock it at the National Arts Centre. I’m pretty familiar coming to this festival and always look forward to checking the pulse of Canada’s national dance community. Bu this will be a first coming with the whole family in tow. So… while it’s all work, it’s also part vacation. Sweet! Over the next few days I’ll be checking in with reports from the 25th Anniversary Edition of the CDF, the first under the guidance of new Artistic Producer, Jeanne Holmes.

I’ll try to be as frank as possible, and let’s start with those pre-show receptions in the Fountain Room… Now lots of criticism has come in over the years about the lack of vibe at the CDF and the need to mix things up. This year it seems there are a number of pre-show receptions “hosted” by various orgs. Well, I don’t know about the rest of you, but to me a reception means Fun, Food, and Drinks (ideally free!) It’s like a party, right!? Well, last night I raced off one such event and let me tell you the fun was not happening, there was no food (what!!?), and the drinks were, well, expensive. Ugh! While part of me thought maybe it was just the way the chips fell yesterday, reports on today’s edition were that it was more of the same. I’ll take a pass on any more of these. For the record, the fun receptions are supposed to be post-show in the Fountain Room. I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Clara making waves!

I did meet a colleague in the pool this morning; apparently that is where all the big deals are happening! She told Clara, “move over girl, there’s only room for one bossy girl at a time in this pool”. Now in all fairness, Clara was giving me a hard time about leaving the pool behind and getting on with our day, but I couldn’t shake Barb’s comment: perhaps we do need to take turns being the bossy girl…

On to the shows… Saw the lovely Paul-André Fortier perform with Malcolm Goldstein last night. Now there are two stately gentlemen with amazing credentials refusing to lay down. As Malcolm coaxed a finely textured soundscape from his violin, Paul-André revealed a similarly rich physical landscape from his body. Those guys got game, and they wonderfully demonstrated how two people – two disciplines – could find harmony in the smallest of gestures.

I wish I could say the same for Raven Spirit’s work that Clara and I saw tonight. Wonderful performers and I really appreciated the in-the-round set-up and the choreographer’s desire to continually connect with the audience, but somehow the dance seemed to get in the way. Raven Spirit Dance’s founder, Michelle Olson, offered a sort of life-cycle, creation story with her “Gathering Light”, but I wished for something a little more raw and edgy. I loved the image that we are all seeds that have been scattered, and are in turn scattering seeds, especially given my show companion was my 6 year old daughter, a second generation dancer in the making, but overall found the work a little simplistic.

More to come!

OK, if you”ve passed through those lean student times you may sympathise with my predicament… There I am, freshly arrived in Montreal from Vancouver, trying to carve out a little presence in the dance community, cash strapped but very much into seeing every ounce of dance that was exploding off of Montreal”s stages. It was “91 or “92, La La la Human Steps was playing at Place des Arts, and I still hadn”t seen this juggernaut of a company… (I had just missed them a few years earlier in Vancouver when their Human Sex show sold out the Cultch in, like, three seconds flat). While my lean-times wallet said no, my heart resoundingly said yes. What”s a boy to do?

I went to Place des Arts thinking maybe a scalper? A lucky benefactor with an extra ticket? A sneak? I joined the throng looking for opportunity; as luck would have it I found no one with an extra ticket for my viewing pleasure. I did however catch the eye of a couple of others who also seemed to be looking for a crafty way in. I introduced myself in my broken French of the time and lo and behold: one of my new friends had a friend who knew an usher who was going to open that door right over there in a few minutes time, be ready to go, quick it”s open and in we rushed! Up the stair well quick like harried bunnies and POP! out into the upper lobby filled with honest to goodness ticket holders! We were in! Yes!

The tricky part now was finding a place to sit without getting nabbed… the show was close to being sold out! I slowly wandered into the theatre, trying to look casual, peering around for what might announce itself as an open seat. BWOW! In a moment of pre-show hijinx that had the crowd in excited anticipation, a flash of light burst out, a dancer exploded across the stage, and blackjack an electric guitar implored our attention… While I took it in in awe a voice echoed behind me: “Votre billet s”il vous plait” Huh!? Um no, I”m just looking for a friend… “Votre billet s”il vous plait Um, I don”t understand… Monsieur, if you can”t show me your ticket I”m going to have to ask you to leave Busted! Man, I”m getting busted… BWOW!! Another flash of light, another dancer, another searing guitar riff… The audience roared, and I was escorted from the theatre.

I never did get to see Infante c”est destroy after that but did manage to see La La La Human Steps (as an honest to goodness ticket holder!) on other occasions. For those in the know, the experience is always intense: richly visual, intricately woven music and dance that feels breathless in its breakneck pace. While the daredevilry of Édouard Lock”s earlier works has evolved, the stunning force and precision of his choreography, and his dancer”s relentless ability to perform it, remains absolutely captivating.

Halifax is in for a treat come Saturday night! Make sure you have your tickets in hand.

I had the great pleasure of watching a world premiere dance performance last night. (Check out the Arts East review) Premieres are fun as you never know what you”re in store for; choreographer Tedd Robinson summed it up well in a pre-show chat when he discussed the nature of (contemporary) dance and that it is for people who appreciate adventure.

Well, adventure is to be had in Tedd”s latest work on Mocean Dance, just as it is in Claudia Moore and Dan Wild”s performance of Robinson and James Kudelka”s choreography that opens the program. For the record: I like adventure and will define it as a voyage of discovery (that does not necessarily imply travel) where our senses are treated to unknown (and unsuspected) information. All that is required of us is to go along for the ride and be receptive along the way. We may not know where we”re going but we should recognise that we”ve arrived (and perhaps even by which path).

Claudia Moore”s Dances in a Small Room – comprised of Robinson”s lone some and Kudelka”s Half an hour of Our Time – is an intimate study on inhabiting space that simply reminds me that sometimes the answers are right in front of our noses. I am reminded of a wonderful article roulette in a recent edition of Psychology Today titled To Dance is a Radical Act. In it, author Kimerer LaMothe writes: …”Humans are not rational minds dwelling in bodily containers. We are bodies. We are bodily selves whose movements are making us able to think and feel and act at all. And if we are to achieve a just and sustainable world, then we must make sure that our processes of getting there honor the wisdom and agency present in the movement of our bodily selves. To dance is a radical act because dancing reminds us that the bodily movements we make make us who we are.”

Ah ha moment! Those dancers looking like they”re depicting the ups, downs, swerves, and collisions of coupledom are pseudo-didactically doing just that! There”s no need to look further, we need simply remember that our bodily movements reveal enormous amounts of information that we may think/feel is otherwise bottled up inside our individual heads. Moore, and partner Dan Wilde, exist within a 5m X 5m square of light – their small room – and we the audience are drawn into their slipstream of time. I had that uncanny feeling of dreaming and hovering above myself looking down… almost as if witnessing a stop motion rush of life surrounded by frozen time. Simple. Haunting. Aching.

Moore”s white square of floor is transformed into white canvas squares as Robinson”s work on Mocean Dance, Canvas 5 X 5, begins the second half. I am still pondering how Robinson so exquisitely crept under my skin and crafted such a worthy and surprising adventure. Paraphrasing one audience member”s comment, this was an exceptional piece of Celtic Japanese mystic performance! Robinson harnesses Mocean”s energy and joyful spirit and thoroughly infuses it with a sense of nostalgia, heritage, and play. There IS something mystical about this work that I am still struggling to put my finger on… those blank canvasses are sooo rich in metaphor and the dancers” wonderful sense of play sooo familiar… Robinson demonstrates why he is increasingly recognised as one of Canada”s most unique choreographic voices.

Suffice to say I am looking forward to a second viewing tonight.

Yesterday marked a momentous occasion in Nova Scotia, as two pieces of legislation were tabled by Darrell Dexter”s New Democrats, the first to establish Arts Nova Scotia, a new arm”s length arts council, and the second to formalise the structure and mandate of the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council, an advisory body that will lead the development of a provincial culture strategy.

Minister Wilson
Ron Bourgeois, Pam Birdsall (MLA), Minister Wilson, Leah Hamilton, myself, Chris Shore

As part of the committee charged with the responsibility of developing the terms of reference for Arts Nova Scotia, the past several months have been an extremely exciting period that I feel privileged to have participated in (A copy of the Arts Nova Transition Committee Report can be found here). Pam Birdsall, MLA for Lunenburg, chaired a committee composed of Leah Hamilton, Chris Shore, and myself, and lead our meetings in a fashion that was wonderfully collaborative and open to very frank discussion. As a relative newcomer to the province, it was amazing to witness the collective wealth of knowledge of this province”s cultural history embodied by this group. We spent a fair bit of time discussing “arm”s length”, looking at existing models, and brainstorming how to apply best practices to our region. Given the, some would say brutal, demise of the previous casino australia online council, we were particularly concerned with creating a body that had teeth and that the arts and culture community could trust to represent their interests. The “teeth” part of the equation relates to budget: the old council was perpetually under-resourced and thus lacked the ability to be truly effective. “Trust” is another story and brings us back to the question of arm”s length. Given that any and all arts funding agencies are ultimately accountable to some political master the question becomes: what length of arm would be acceptable?

After much pro”ing and con”ing, all the while looking through the lens of today”s fiscal reality, we have what I feel is a pretty decent length of arm: Arts Nova Scotia will be governed by an independent board of directors who will have authority to hire an Executive Director, with the Chair of the Board reporting to the Minister of Communities Culture and Heritage. The offices will be housed within the space currently housing the Department of Communities Culture and Heritage and staff will be shared between the two. While this is not the ideal scenario some would have, it does, in my opinion, represent a resourceful solution to creating a new entity while continuing to get $$ into the hands of artists and arts organisations.

The run up to yesterday”s announcement was fast, with legislation being quickly produced in time to be tabled in the legislature before the holiday break. What this means is that ArtsNS could and should be a reality in the government”s next fiscal year! Rejoice Nova Scotia!

Finally, I am compelled to mention that Deputy Minister Laura Lee Langley and her staff moved mountains to make this happen so quickly and were incredibly accommodating, supportive, and collaborative throughout the whole process. While this legislation is but a first step towards the future, it bodes well that the people involved are firmly committed to making this happen.

Check out the Art Attack in the Coast

Cycling in to work this morning I was trying to remember the first time I saw O Vertigo founder Ginette Laurin”s choreography. After much wrestling into the murky depths of my grey matter I am convinced the answer goes back to 1988 when I was studying dance at Simon Fraser University and saw Full House (at the Cultch or the Firehall!!??). Curious to refresh those synapses, I googled Laurin Full House and, if I may digress, two sites of interest popped up: The first was connected to the Government of Saskatchewan”s Grade 6 Arts Education curriculum – Model Unit for Teaching Dance, Lesson 4: Looking at a Choreographer”s work. Holy…! Kids in Saskatchewan are studying Ginette Laurin”s 1987 work Full House! That is SO cool! Here is an excerpt: Explain that sometimes choreographers observe movements seen in daily life and change or abstract the movements for their dances. Discuss what abstraction means to students. Show examples or have students think of examples best online casino bonus they have seen in visual art or cartoons. Discuss ways every-day movements could be abstracted (for example, by modifying the elements of dance). Make connections between abstracted every-day or environmental movements and movements seen in the dances of various cultures. For example, the grass dance is inspired by the movement of prairie grass.

The second site was for a series of dance films by Moze Mossanen – The Dancemakers. There”s a short promo clip that contains a great excerpt of Ginette Laurin dancing back in the 80″s (check out the duet about a minute or two in). Wow! I”m assuming the choreography is hers (it shows the partnering that has largely come to symbolise her work) and is really interesting to see in context of other work being made at that time.

I don”t pretend to be a dance historian, but the “80”s were a heady time for dance in Montreal: Jean-Pierre Perreault, Édouard Lock, Marie Chouinard, Paul-André Fortier, and Ginette Laurin were at the forefront of a movement revolution that was defining Montreal as THE global dance capital. Interesting looking at those names and imagining their individual styles… What I witnessed in 1988 was a full speed charge of gloriously muscular bodies engaged in wild duets where push and pull were fueled by big energy. Lyrical? Yes, but these bodies were not so much about technical prowess as they were about resilient strength and physical passion. For me, as a young student, O Vertigo was unlike anything I had seen up until then – bold, unabashed, and a little in your face – and was one of the reasons I moved to Montreal a year later.

Over the years, Ginette Laurin has mastered the art of framing her dance within visual surroundings that heighten the themes she addresses. This is perhaps best illustrated by La Chambre Blanche”s superb decor, but truly every one of her works contains visual elements that lend a distinct tone, and Onde de choc is no different: it”s sound and light boxes permit an unprecedented interactivity that are splendid to witness.

Twenty-five years and counting – Halifax is finally going to get a taste of O Vertigo!

A quick tour around Bill Coleman and Laurence Lemieux’s website (Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie) reveals a pair of artists who know no bounds. While a good chunk of their individual and collective experience includes an abundance of works made for the stage, it also includes a number of projects others would only dream of. You know, the “wouldn’t it be cool if…” kind of musings born from good drink and spirited company. Wouldn’t it be cool if we took over a town in the middle of the prairies and invited a who’s who collection of artists to come and make work and got all the townspeople to be involved and then did a performance in Grasslands National Park? How about:  Wouldn’t it be cool if we made a play list of Sun Ra songs, assembled a kick ass ensemble of dancers from across Canada, and then invited the Arkestra to come and play live us? Ya, we could even go on tour with them!!

I don’t know where they get their ideas, but what ideas they get. The Grasslands Project (Where Heaven Meets Earth) happened in 2004 (and the Gros Morne Project in 2006), and Hymn to the Universe has been touring on and off with the Sun Ra Arkestra since 2008. Around that same time, Coleman and Lemieux invited James Kudelka to be the company’s resident choreographer (why not ask one of North America’s most celebrated ballet choreographers to join the fun?) and secured the rights to remount three classic works from his repertoire. Dream big or go home, right!?

From Grasslands to Gros Morne to music halls with the Arkestra to… a balletic evening full of glorious pas de deux, sweeping gowns, and amazing dancers in full flight underneath the limelight. Wow, talk about extremes, but it seems that this is where Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie thrive. While this diverse repertoire accurately encapsulates their artistic interests, performing classically derived work is by no means unusual; ie. they are as comfortable on stage as they are in site-specific situations, perhaps thanks in large part to the “compagnie” part of the bargain.While Bill and Laurence are the artistic motors, each project involves a select group of collaborators whose talents and experience are suited for the project. For a project such as In Paradisum, dancers of exquisite technical calibre need to be engaged (as Kudelka’s work is notoriously challenging). There’s nothing like the right person(elle) for the job, and Bill and Laurence seem to have an endless list of stellar collaborators to bring on board.

Given their track record for pulling off feats of magic in the most unlikely of circumstances, I am sure In Paradisum is going to be a memorable evening of beautiful dance. Don’t miss it: Nov 18 at 8PM in the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium

Years ago when I was paying the bills working as a theatre technician I remember a TD saying something like: “90% of the audience has no idea we change the lights between shows”. While I won’t speculate on the accuracy of this statement, I think we can agree with its point: the audience pays to see the talent on stage, not the behind the scenes blood, sweat, and tears of the tech crew.

As the crew is working full speed right now, preparing for BJM’s World Premiere of Fuel tomorrow night (Nov 2), I thought I would give a big shout out to all the behind the scenes heroes whose modus operandi is truly: The show must go on!

First thing – every theatre is different, possessing its own stage dimensions, sight lines, technical equipment inventory, etc. One of a company TD’s (technical director) primary jobs is to make any show look more or less the same in every theatre it visits. When theatre specifications are similar this involves pretty basic application of available resources. However, when there are substantial differences the TD and their crew have to work magic. The Rebecca Cohn Auditorium is a grand old dame of a hall that has its fair share of particularities: the stage is asymmetrical and relatively shallow for starters, and the number of overhead (light) hanging positions has frustrated more than one visiting company… Suffice to say, this venue challenges pretty well every dance company that finds itself on its surfaces. I visited this morning and pros and cons were being weighed, solutions were being found, the show must go on.

People were pretty excited by the high jump pits that I delivered. That took some searching… What on earth does a contemporary ballet company need with a pair of high jump pits? A big shout out to LeMarchant/St. Thomas and Westmount Elementary for lending us theirs…

I guess we’ll see tomorrow how it all comes together. Just remember when you’re watching those beautiful dancers: A dedicated crew of technicians worked tirelessly to pull this show together. I applaud their efforts along with the performers.

I had a great visit to Calgary this past week to take part in my very first Fluid Festival. Wow! Great fun in a city that is going through dramatic changes – this classic boom/bust city is booming right now! They’ve just been named Canada’s Cultural Capital for 2012 and there seems to be a steady stream of cultural activity and investment. Fluid is growing rapidly and I give a great big tip o’ the hat to AD/programmer Nicole Mion for her wonderful vision and stout community building skills. Her festival has regularly included international stars as well as a stellar round up of local/regional artists.

Cayetano Soto's Fuel

Aside from seeing a bunch of shows, I also took part in Fluent, a dialogue about the change and growth our industry is going through. Ah growth… Communities change as a whole quite slowly but for individual organisations it can be quite rapid. Take for example les Ballets Jazz de Montréal: founded in 1972 by Geneviève Salbaing, Eva von Gencsy and Eddy Toussaint, the company’s early direction defined it as a force to be reckoned with in the classic jazz genre, ie. a blend of “traditional ballet technique with loose-hipped, more percussive and syncopated movement at times reminiscent of American show-dancing”. Enter Louis Robitaille as the new Artistic Director in 1998 and a whole sea-change began to take place. The overtly populist roots were trimmed and a whole new era of choreographers were ushered in to redefine the company. Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal became BJM Danse and the re-branding began. BJM is now recognised as a contemporary ballet company with highly skilled dancers (that can still do the “loose-hipped” thing when called upon).

Fuel duet

I haven’t personally seen their latest creation, Fuel by Cayetano Soto, but the word I heard from some peers in Calgary who were invited to an avant-premiere performance is that it is HOT! And Halifax gets the World Premiere!

More great news, the company has added Locked Up Laura to the program. I’ve been going back and forth with the company on program details and this duet by Anna Lopez Ochoa is divine fun. November 2 promises to be great fun for the world of dance in Halifax.

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