York U Dance Innovations Premieres 36 Works

By: Nov. 13, 2015
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Thirty-six new works will debut in Dance Innovations: Strong/Light, a choreographic showcase of York University's Department of Dance, running November 26 to 28. York's rising young dance artists step into the spotlight with three distinctive programs of original choreography, presented in the McLean Performance Studio, 244 Accolade East Building on York's Keele campus.

Dance Innovations is directed by celebrated independent choreographer, writer and York dance Professor Carol Anderson.

Photo: York Dance Ensemble performs work by Tracey Norman, Photo by David Hou

The title Strong/Light refers to the continuum of effort from strong to light in the Laban system of movement analysis. Students are working with choreographic investigation of dynamic variation, and motif and development in their choreographic projects.

Most of the featured choreographies are created by fourth-year students in York's BFA program in Dance. Works by MFA candidates and an ensemble piece created by Professor Darcey Callison for third-year dance majors round out the program.

A remarkable feature of Department shows is that the crews - including board and lighting operators, assistant stage managers, projections, and many of the front of house positions - are students in the production course led by Dance Innovations' production director Professor William Mackwood. The show is also a collaboration with the Department of Theatre with the majority of the student work lit by faculty member Steve Ross' lighting students.

Callison's Post Baroque brings together the structural inquiry of postmodern dance (1962 - 1979) and the decorative sensibilities of baroque dance (1690 - 1750). Although these two periods are often viewed as aesthetic opposites, they both valued the harmonious connections between the body and patterns in nature, and attempted to show intrinsic order within disorder.

Several student choreographers found inspiration for their works in the many facets of human relationships. Mariah Awaiye's untitled duet explores the overwhelming power of attachment. Natalie Chung's trio Linked is about getting to know one another. Becca Graziano's duet Perhaps I am a tumbleweed investigates intimacy through space, touch and eye contact. Testing the limits of mind and body is the theme of Tori Kelly's Begin, Risk, Stop. Jessica Irwin's Unbound and Rosie Kimble's Alone, Together look at how secrecy plays out in relationships. Disintegration, a quintet by Stefanie Stefanov, explores the battle underlying the dissolution of love.

Looking inward and examining the self is another thematic connection within Strong/Light. Colleen Dingeldein's Two looks at how it is possible for us to feel trapped in our own bodies. Emily Griffiths' Em's Gems is about self-expression, and Jessica Mannara's (IN)Consinnus, questions elegance and vanity. Saudades (Longing) by Kyle Manraj is inspired by traditional Portuguese fado music. Dedra McDermott choreographs a soul's awakening, while Deuana Robinson's Posy compartmentalizes the female body. Juliana Roman sextet Interius Daemones (Inner Demons), explores overcoming addiction. Rebekah Spence's duet Faith focuses on the relationship between religion and hope. Heart Cry, a duet by Selina Twum, explores struggle and strength.

Four students dance around the clock, looking forward or back in time. Madison Burgess' among the memories recalls the distant past. Moirai by Marivic de Vera explores destiny and memory. Natalie Feigin's duet Raisa is a eulogy for a girl who did not survive the Holocaust. Victoria Gubiani's A Cry of the Romantics explores the free expression and rebellion that empowered art and literacy in the Romantic Era.

Other choreographers take inspiration from the natural world. Heather Carter's From the Ground Up evokes a plant's metamorphosis from seed to maturity. Crystal Finn-Dunn's sextet is driven by qualities of an amoeba. Tenzin-Tara Haines-Wangda's quartet In the Lab is about clearing one's mind. Tempest by Kate Kovach embodies the dynamics of storms from different perspectives. Danielle Wake's trio Predatory shows the animalistic physicality of a cheetah pursuing its prey.

The geometry of dance is also a thematic focus. Oblivion, a trio by Amber Davis, explores improvised movement through space. Chloe Munday's A Sense of Rush! deploys strength and dynamism in diverse spatial patterns. Christina Logan's trio Embers displays directionality, contact and focus while Bianca Trulli's quintet One-off is an exploration of movement.

Six choreographers from York's Graduate Program in Dance contribute arresting new works to the playbill. Ashley Burton's playful duet, vin pour deux, s'il vous plâit, takes the audience on a Parisian adventure. Caitlin Elmslie's trio, Next Level, illustrates the effects of similar movements expressed at various levels in space. With(in) Thyself, a quintet choreographed by Rose Hajas, explores one person's experience of dissociation and disconnection from reality. Em Leonard's Romeo and Juliet focuses on lesbian, gay, polyamorous and asexual stories. Suzanne Liska's Elemental explores the journey around uniting elemental states. Lexie Strachan's Convergence stems from the idea that a dancer's creative possibilities are endless.

Admission to each program of Dance Innovations: Strong/Light is $18, or $12 in advance (before Nov. 22). For more information or to purchase tickets, visit ampd.yorku.ca/perform/boxoffice or call 416-736-5888.


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