Mascall Dance

521 BBZ-mini

Dates 9-12 July 2007 Venue Mascall Dance Studio (1130 Jervis, Vancouver)

Performer Ron Stewart Choreographer Jennifer Mascall

Reviewer Ed Farolan

In everything in this universe, there are two sides: the good and the bad, the ying and the yang, the thesis and the antithesis, the traditional and the modern. We can apply this to dance: the classical and the modern. In these days, however, there are no more clear-cut boudaries.

It's hard to tell now what's good and what's bad, what's a man and what's a woman, and in modern dance, the style nowadays is to mix things up--add dialogues or monologues into dance, thus mixing up two genres. And that's exactly what Ron Stewart does.

Choreographed by Jennifer Mascall, this 50-minute piece (which ended up being more than 50 minutes because the show started late) was a mishhmash of monologues and dance. In-between, Stewart would talk to the audience, useless chitchat, as he does costume changes. At one point, he takes off all his clothes, gets a bottle of water, pours it around his body, wipes himself, and then changes into his fresh costume.

Now I ask myself: What's the point? Nudity is good if it's incorporated in the dance. Then it becomes an art form. But when you do it for no reason but to change to another costume, then it doesn't make sense.

Mascall's choreography was good. Now I don't know whether Mascall asked him to reinvent the choreography to fit his style. I suspect she did coach him to do that, because when she introduced the show in the beginning, she said that she let Stewart pick up the choreography of others and adapt it to his own.

The first dance was a somewhat comic cowboy dance. The sounds were confusing because Stewart was doing his monologue while the music (with words) was going on. My suggestion is if you talk, cut out the words of the music, or just have music without words on tape.

The second dance was something from Michael Jackson, and I could see an adaptation of his movements. The next one had to do with flying to Scotland, and I suppose this piece was meant for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where he will be participating in August. The last piece was a personal one. He spoke about his grandfather from Esquimalt, his family, and the sea and the trees in his backyard. The sound effects were good, as well as the visuals. But he should enunciate more, work more on his diction because I couldn't understand half of what he was saying.

I had mixed feelings about this performance. I suppose for Fringe Festivals, it's typical to show performances of this nature. But for normal audiences, I think they would expect something that is closer to pure dance.

Since this deals with a Theatre Festival, then I would go for it, because theatre encompasses all, and thus, you could mix different genres, as in this case where monologues and audience dialogue participation is encouraged.

Again, I would say go for it ... call it Dance Theatre because this isn't just dance but dance and theatre combined.

© 2007 Ed Farolan