Thursday, June 17, 2010

Ballet BC on a Small Stage

The 22nd iteration of MovEnt's wildly popular Dances for a Small Stage opened last night at the Legion on the Drive. For once, I'd gotten there early, which meant Joanna and I were able to secure a prime table right up front, close to the action.

Which is where one wanted to be for this special all-Ballet BC-danced program of new works by Gioconda Barbuto, Edmond Kilpatrick, Farley Johansson, Donald Sales, Cori Caulfield, Lauri Stallings, Margie Gillis, and Cherice Barton. The small space seems to have brought out the theatricality in both the dancers and the choreographers, with most of the works (some of them, very witty) straddling the dance-theatre divide. This is as it should be, as the rejuvenated company is made up of wonderfully charismatic performers, and as the relaxed, cabaret setting of the Legion definitely invites interaction with the audience (exploited most effectively in the closing work by Barton, "Temptation," a mise-en-abŷme of a noirish riff on the whole bar setting itself, all to the strains of Tom Waits).

The evening got off to a fantastic start with Barbuto's "Clique," which featured the entire company of 14 dancers on the stage collectively showcasing their amazing technique in traded-off riffs, and phrases and partnerings of no more than a few seconds each. From there, we branched off into smaller-scale works that often effectively put humour together with rather pedestrian movements: e.g., Kilpatrick's "Love in an Elevator" and Sales' "Oops Sorry LOL Sh^t." Caulfield stuck Delphine Leroux in a hoop skirt and empire wig, while Margie Gillis put Maggie Forgeron in flowing tulle: in both cases the results were amazing. Alexis Fletcher and Gilbert Small were wonderfully sexy together in Farley Johansson's "pocket full of hoyle," while Leroux and Peter Smida (together with Alyson Fretz and Connor Gnam) were riveting in Lauri Stallings "Zak."

In introducing the evening with MovEnt Artistic Producer Julie-anne Saroyan, Ballet BC Artistic Director said the program was a chance for the company to get a bit down and dirty, and to take some of that aesthetic back to the Queen E stage. I look forward to the results.


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