Friday, July 9, 2010

Beyond the Status Quo

The 22nd edition of the Dancing on the Edge Festival got off to a flying start (quite literally) last night at the Firehall Arts Centre, first with Byron Chief-Moon's Essence of Life, his dance-media reinterpretation of the Blackfoot Sun-dance ceremony, and then with Amber Funk Barton and Shay Kuebler's return presentation of Status Quo (see photo above), a high-octane, high-altitude surfing/surfeit of gravity-defying movement and thumping music.

It's always intoxicating to see Barton and Kuebler--joined here by Kuebler's fellow 605 Collective member Josh Martin, and Manuel Sorge--launch themselves horizontally through the air, and the kinesthetic energy pulsing through the audience was palpable. However, I think I've had enough of the jerky convulsions and spastic gasps of air that often accompany their work. These young and immensely talented dancers certainly have a distinct and urban/hip-hop inspired aesthetic. Now I think it's time to change things up a bit, which was ostensibly the motive behind the two solos by Kuebler and Barton that preceded the quartet. In this regard, I think Kuebler's was the more successful of the two.

In her opening remarks, Firehall Artistic Director and DOTE Producer Donna Spencer mentioned that they were selling raffle tickets (at $20 a piece) to make up a shortfall in funding due to the BC Government's cuts to gaming fund allocations to the arts (and festivals like DOTE, in particular). I bought two, and I encourage other patrons to dig into their pockets and do the same. We want this Vancouver dance institution to stick around for another 22 years.

Next up for us on the program is the Vancouver premiere of German choreographer Thomas Lehman's Schriebstück at the Dance Centre on Saturday. Looking forward to what promises to be a fascinating experiment.


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