Canada Review: "Fall for Dance North"

Photo credit: Bruce Zinger from Skanes Dansteater (performers Peder Nilsson and Madeleine Mansson).

Photo credit: Bruce Zinger from Skanes Dansteater (performers Peder Nilsson and Madeleine Mansson).

  • Joe Szekeres, Chief Toronto Critic

Attending several dance and movement productions the last while has altered my understanding of the art form. Again, I must state that I have no background in dance and movement at all, so I am unable to offer any critical feedback from that perspective. Nevertheless, to look at these pieces from a theatrical presentation has most certainly made me appreciate and value this specific art form as part of the LIVE TO culture scene.

I received an invitation to attend the first night of the 5th anniversary of FALL FOR DANCE NORTH, Toronto’s Premier International Dance Festival. There were four dance presentations ranging in length between 20-30 minutes.  The companies were in respective order: TORONTO DANCE THEATRE, THE NEW ZEALAND DANCE COMPANY, Sweden’s SKANES DANSTEATER and Brazil’s GRUPO CORPO.

Toronto Dance Theatre’s creation of GH 5.0 by independent choreographer Hanna Kiel was at the invitation of Artistic Director Christopher House, part of a project to reimagine selections from his choreographic repertoire for TDT’s 50th anniversary show GLASS FIELDS in 2018.  The original reference from 1983 was Glass Houses.

This showcase used electro-acoustic percussion instrumentation by composer Greg Harrison and friends. Last week I had attended a production of ‘Resonance’ by Ms. Kiel so I was rather intrigued to see another work by her and Mr. Harrison. What drew me to this piece was the fact that I didn’t have to see a story line presented, but just appreciate the movement of the dancers while closing my eyes and listening to the music.

And I did just that. I liked the use of the percussion instruments as the sound quality piqued my interest. The bright colours of the dancers’ clothing and the bright lighting were highly effective to sustain my interest.  The dancers evoked an energy and rhythm from this bright lighting with the accompanying music. From my seat, they appeared to draw energy from each other for that creative energy and drive.

This almost day like setting was contrasted nicely with THE NEW ZEALAND DANCE COMPANY’s near night setting of its piece ‘Sigan’, choreographed by Jae Duk. This presentation evokes a traditional Korean martial art of Taekkyeon which integrates the whole body in a quicksilver style, according to the programme. For me, this production was presented with frenetic energy and tempo. I loved what I believed was a ticking sound of a clock which showed that time was passing by quickly and how much we cannot get time back. The dark clothing worn by the dancers was a sombre and sober reminder of the fact time cannot be rolled back at any cost.

After intermission, my favourite piece of the evening (and which appeared to be the audience’s as well) was Sweden’s SKANES DANSTEATER choreographed and performed by Peder Nilsson and Madeleine Mansson. What a tremendously evocative piece of sensuality, seduction and intimacy between two dancers.  Ms. Mansson was in a wheelchair for this entire movement piece. Mr. Nilsson was able to lift Ms. Mansson in her wheelchair during the performance in a loving manner that was never brutal.  Personally, I felt there was a strong synergetic chemistry between these two performers.  From my seat in the house, I noticed their eyes were locked on each other so much.  An extremely brave, moving and rousing expression of joy and intimacy between these two dancers that the audience was on its feet at the end of the piece. Simply beautiful to watch.

The last piece was Brazil’s GRUPO CORPO. Choreographer Rodrigo Pederneiras wove ‘Danca Sinfonica’ from elements of previous works he created over the company’s history to celebrate its fortieth anniversary in 2015. This production, again, offered a solid juxtaposition of dance style in comparison with the Swedish production. I noticed many elemental styles of jazz, some tap, modern and swing.

FALL FOR DANCE NORTH continues to October 6, 2019.  For further information, please visit www.ffdnorth.com.