Dances for a Small Stage
So You Think You Can Dance

Dates and Venue 13 – 15 February 2014 | Ukrainian Centre on E. 10th at Main

Artistic Producer Julie-anne Saroyan Lighting Designer Jonathan Ryder Technical Director Alex House

Reviewer Nancie Ottem

A very eclectic dance program was offered opening night by Dances for a Small Stage at the Ukrainian Centre. There was the flavour of a community hall event about the evening which included Ukrainian comfort food, beverages and an energy of camaraderie within the audience that rendered the evening a unique experience.

Bringing dance to an audience in an informal setting, allowing the dancers to hone their craft in an atmosphere of intimacy, enhancing the connection with performer and the audience are all central themes for the Dances for a Small Stage concept.

The evening, emceed by John Murphy, started with Someone to Dance with choreographed and performed by Peter Chu. Dressed in black with one long stemmed rose as a prop, Chu’s performance was very engaging. It had the feeling of mime about it which added an extra layer of intrigue to the meaning his dance conveyed.

What Belongs to Love performed by Jane Osborne and Bevin Poole (choreographer Vanessa Goodman) told the story of love's many phases. It was very cleverly lit by Jonathan Ryder, the lighting designer for the evening. One could interpret many aspects of love in the lighting and in the movements of the dancers. A clever and innovative piece, What Belongs to Love highlighted the theme of the evening on the eve of Valentine’s Day.

The first half of the evening included with Moondance, choreographed and performed by Jim Hibbard and Retrospect, conceived and created by Corbin Murdoch and Lina Fitzner. The latter was performed by Lina Fitzner, Corbin Murdoch, Michael Champion, Matthew Smith and Tariq Hussain.

The final offering for the first half of the evening was Bachata Tango & Salsa, choreographed and danced by Diego Sanchez with Mayumi Tsuzuki. These three pieces represented further styles of dance that were showcased on opening night. Tap, interpretive dance with acappella accompaniment and the dances of Latin America added to the tremendous variety that made this particular program so enjoyable.

The second half of the evening was every bit as innovative and engaging as the first half. Tether, a clever piece that explored the boundaries of interactive dance was choreographed/danced by Kirsten Wicklund. Le Temps Des Cherises (choreographer Noam Gagnon/Co.Vision) was performed by Pattie Allan and James Fagan Tait. Self Love, (choreographers Rob Kitsos & Scott Davis) was danced by Rob Kitsos and Conor Wylie and added a touch of humour to the program. the transformative you (choreographer Karissa Barry) was danced by Lexi Vajda with a strength of emotion that resonated with the audience. P’s Forecast (choreographer Peter Chu) was danced by Kevin Tookey with a lithness of spirit that put smiles on the faces in the audience.

There is a quote on the back page of the program by Lexi Vajda that illustrates a core principle behind Dances for a Small Stage and which so aptly illustrates the desire of these artists to push the boundaries of their art. This drive is what transforms the small stage concept into a very large stage indeed.

Lexi Vajda has a small inkling that sometimes, small things are actually not small.

© 2014 Nancie Ottem