Erasga's Shifting Geography
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
Round two of Shifting Geography with Alvin Erasga Tolentino's CO ERASGA’s Let’s Dance was choreographed this time by Rafaele Giovanola. She sits anxiously on the side stage to see what improvements are needed. She follows the movements with her eyes and the audio is heard from a small laptop. The six dancers take the stage. Their individual solos mimic bumpy movements, as if on a journey by train or bus. This was a very short number. We are then moved into the Let’s Talk portion of the show.
The introduction to Let's Talk, Let's Dance is facilitated again by Alvin Erasga Tolentino, who is interviewing two independent Vancouver based dancers, Alison Denham and Billy Marchenski. Tolentino steers the discussion into what role models the two dancers have had and their challenges living in Vancouver.
Denham started her first steps in dance training in Vancouver at the young age of 15 with Vancouver's Arts Umbrella, originally hailing from Vancouver Island of a supportive small sports-centred family. She explained how dance "was just easier" as her sister had already been placed in ballet and "instead of having a babysitter," she would participate. Denham was the recipient of the Isadora Duncan Dance Award in 2006, while training between Ontario and British Columbia. She also has been dancing for nearly twenty years, and many past-times with her family were spent attending dance festivals.
Marchenski's roots stemmed from his theatre education at Simon Fraser University. Some of his works was with Radix Theatre and he is also the founding member of Screaming Flea Productions. He explained two contrasting male role models-- his father and a childhood pastor. He cited Mark Diamond as a main influence. He also stated that stating that most theatre people were "orphans of some kind" which motivated him to connect with his biological mother who was an artist. Today, Marchenski runs between dance and theatre.
Lastly, their discussion turned towards their challenges of living in Vancouver. Vancouver is quoted to be the least supportive of the arts nation-wide. Furthermore, Vancouver's high cost of living, make it frustrating for Marchenski and Denham as dance artists. Denham discussed the physicality of having to complete two to three rehearsals a day only for 6-8 weeks of work. They also discussed that there must be more genuine curiosity for dancers to follow that instead of always seeking recognition or gratitude for their dance.
While their discussion turned to challenges as an artist, Tolentino opened the topic up to the audience to give their insights. Most people in the audience felt similarly to Marchenski and Denham’s challenges.
© 2013 Stephanie Johnston