Co. Erasga's Shifting Geography
Let's Talk, Let's Dance Series - Part 1

Dates and Venue 29 July - 9 August 2013 | The Cultch, 1895 Venables Street

Choreographer/Instuctor Alvin Erasga Tolentino Dancers Billy Marchenski, Alison Denham, Martin Inthamoussu, Rafaele Giovanola, Victoria Miranda and Samuel Guist.

Reviewer Stephanie Johnston

Entering the Cultch, we are not greeted by a handsome usher or a pretty lady at the box office. The front door sits open, as if to invite all creative minds – dancers, videographers, artists, painters – into the space. The stage is bare; no sets, no bright curtains, no lighting, no props or costumes. A moment later, the master of ceremonies, an attentive Phillipino man, steps into the spotlight and introduces himself as Alvin Erasga Tolentino, as the host for the afternoon and artistic creator of CO.ERASGA. He first introduces the six dancers in the piece – Billy Marchenski (Canada), Alison Denham (Canada), Martin Inthamoussu (Uruguay), Rafaele Giovanola (Switzerland), Victoria Miranda (Spain) and Samuel Guist (Germany).

With the introductions over, we watch six dancers modernize their jet-lag experiences. Their movements are repetitive, raw, and strong individually but yet fitting together to create one moving painting. The stage lights are flicked on and off repeatedly for a visual effect. The production audio is only quiet speech, the dancer's breathing and their bare feet on the stage. Once their dance piece finishes, all but five are on the side left to stretch where Messrs Tolentino and Inthamoussu set up a pair of fold-up chairs.

Instead of the obvious lines among cast, crew and patrons, a conversation unfolds between Tolentino and Inthamoussu. The latter's introduction is lengthy and impressive, citing various countries and his dancing origins with the National Ballet of Uruguay. Inthamoussu talks about his debut as a dancer; mimicking movements from behind the door of his sister's ballet class and eventually being invited by the instructor to participate. He mentions how art was banned due to the dictatorship in his native country and "being an artist was not an option." in his parent's eyes. Lastly, Inthamoussu discusses how his role evolved from training at home to working globally as an dance artist.

The contrast between the two components of the series is intentional and well organized. The concept of having dance act as a platform for their outreach to the community is a strong one. It was a very creative experience to see that six shifting and different nations could find the similar geography of dance.

To read Part 2 of this series Click here, for Part 3 of this series Click here

© 2013 Stephanie Johnston