at the Enwave Theatre
as part of Harbourfront's World Stage
Danceworks presents Toronto debut of Ottawa’s
“Dance speaks to the mind, body, and soul in a way that goes beyond the power of words and its social impact and its capacity to engage should be celebrated. As an art form dance can be impressive but expression is its fundamental nature.”
Crazy Smooth, founder of Bboyizm dance company
“Dance to express! Not to impress.”
Bboyizm company motto
The DanceWorks presentation of Bboyizm at the Enwave Theatre was a daring and explosive confrontation between audience and artist that pushed the boundaries of theatrical expression - through dance - to the edge of post-modern consciousness. Ranging from ensemble sequences to a series of starkly presented moving tableaus of solo artists displaying beautiful athletic movements, the program also included snippets of cultural theory and a Hollywood Musical sequence in order to expose and highlight the gorgeous mixed bag of choreography, discourse, and powerfully improvised physical gesture that complex forms of street dance can embody.
At one point during the program words take over and movement subsides as dancer and founding member Crazy Smooth, with a finesse for a direct verbal expression of cultural theory, addresses the “authenticity and historical understanding of his medium.” Later in the hour-long presentation a brief 1971 black and white television clip from Canada’s Pierre Berton show appears and the audience is given a glimpse of a rare interview with Bruce Lee where he clearly articulates his philosophy of martial arts. In the context of Bboyizm, Lee contributes a layer of discourse that explicates an essential impulse within street dance. Lee discusses the need to express one’s self through forms of anger and determination as an art from - “the art of expressing the human body.” He concludes with the very telling notion that “to express one’s self honestly is very hard to do…to keep your reflexes, when you want it it’s there!” Like Lee’s philosophy, Bboyizm’s general mandate appears to be an honest expression of one’s self through aggressive and empowering movement.
As a profoundly urban expression of movement as art, street dance has had a long history rooted in forms of cultural marginalization and popular entertainment. As the first artist to receive Canada Council funding for this form of dance, Crazy Smooth, in his current show, elevates aesthetic consciousness around the divisions between more traditional forms such as ballet and Broadway choreography. By including a recording of Judy Garland singing That’s Entertainment - replete with break dance movement interspersed with classic kick lines, followed by balletic pirouettes and leaps - Bboyizm hits the cultural context head on and reveals the layered skills of the dancers as they take on a diverse array of choreographed and improvised movement. Audience response and ensuing applause becomes an eager, staccato effect that hesitates, explodes, and ends in standing ovation - generally morphing in and out of telling moments tinged with a kind of awkward comfort between artist and spectator.
Designed to inhabit a theatre through evocative lighting and costuming, yet tear away at the boundaries of conventional theatrical presentation, the overall show is a truly boundless exercise in immense skill and artistic talent as it takes on iconoclastic proportions.
“The work [IZM] develops an interplay between the artists’ intentions (which influence the viewer), and the viewer’s desires (which influence the artist). This interplay touches on the subtle aspects of dance, expressing the intricacy and passion of street dancers.”
Described as “a challenging piece both for the dancers and the audience…that brings together 10 of Canada’s most talented performers to evoke the essential nature of street dance,” IZM is a very complex piece of performance that simultaneously flirts with tradition and brazenly resists it. Through direct audience address via facial expression, and moments of physical hostility that speak indirectly of Bruce Lee’s philosophies regarding the aesthetic expression of anger and determination as a very controlled and impeccably-tempered art form, the name and the term Crazy Smooth becomes a concise signifier for the diverse rhythms being presented by ten incredible artists.
“As an art form dance can be impressive but expression is its fundamental nature…”
“Dance to express! Not to impress.”
As the entire ensemble of dancers shine in solo and group segments, the company creates a paradoxical union of the impressive and the expressive that both belies and clarifies their general mandate. Putting the human body on display often involves an essential, unavoidable meeting of physical and emotional schisms that cannot help but come together in a variety of complex ways - Bboyizm does just this with a breathtakingly beautiful and action packed athleticism.
Perhaps Bruce Lee said it best in the full version of the 1971 interview when he remarked that his chosen art form cannot be perceived as “pure naturalness.” Rather, like street dance, his measured and intricate movements embody a kind of “natural unnaturalness” - a superb form of “unnatural naturalness.” Shot through with an elegant virtuosity that dazzles the eye and mind with a frequent array of seemingly impossible bodily contortions, Bboyizm is an amazing Canadian cultural tour-de-force within the world of dance.
IZM RAN AT THE ENWAVE THEATRE (HARBOURFRONT) ARPIL 13-14
"There ain't no colored people in Clybourne Park!"
A Raisin in the Sun (1961)
There can be the tendency, in some Pulitzer-Prize winning plays (e.g. Doubt, Proof), to represent social concerns in a sharply naturalistic way that sheds light on the some of the most complex things we experience in life, but the light frequently appears to be less self-reflective, and more glaringly enigmatic and placating as it implicates its audience in a rather amiable and complacent manner. Clybourne Park is a case in point as the script dwells on conversational entanglements about exotic climes and problematic suburban neighbourhood conflicts, but never fully addresses any workable way of actually dealing with some of the most complex issues that arise. A barrage of racist and sexist jokes is perhaps the most complicated and uncomfortable part of a script that cleverly creates a first act set the during nineteen fifties, with the aftermath of the Korean War looming large upon the narrative horizon, and culminates within a more contemporary setting where the same conflicts still seem to lurk within a landscape where resolution seems more and more difficult as time passes.
A very clichéd and sentimental ending, depending upon the proverbial tormented letter from a distraught tragic figure, appears too neat and tidy given the expectations around very serious racial issues that are presented at the outset. But all in all, these convoluted narrative strains work together to create a profoundly entertaining and mildly thought provoking piece of theatre.
The current studio 180 theatre production of the acclaimed Bruce Norris dramedy, seamlessly directed by Joel Greenberg, does justice to a clever and sharply worded script that runs the gamut from cliff-hanging stories and jokes that don’t always get fully told, to bickering neighbours who frequently lapse into cleverly conceived transitions from race politics to tourism and place names. This is the strained beauty of Norris’ script as it reveals the superficial wanderings of some suburban lifestyles. But the ending doesn’t quite fulfill that dramaturgical task at hand.
A superb ensemble never falters as Michael Healey leads the cast through his paternal nightmare about the tragic circumstances of his son’s profoundly conflicted experience as a solider in the Korean war. Norris has woven the personal and the political into a tightly layered, closely knit package of serio-comic mayhem. Healey’s mannered and engaging performance becomes the sticky glue that holds everyone together within a form of collective chaos as the second act doubling of all the characters from the first act turns him into a subservient subject who literally unearths the key to an anti-climactic finale.
Sets by Jung-Hye Kim add a powerful television-like naturalism to the plot, reminiscent of a sitcom environment suitable for an episode of All in the Family or Maude. Jeff Lillico, Sterling Jarvis, and Mark McGrinder deliver seamless performances as an array of characters ranging form Lillico’s brash member of the clergy to Jarvis’ protective husband and McGrinder’s bumbling concerned citizen intent upon a misidentified form of political astuteness.
Kimwun Perehinec gives a virtuoso performance in the dual parts of the indignant housewife and the hearing impaired, over-protected spouse as she approaches very difficult roles with an emotional intensity and subtle charm that turns to disgruntled outrage in the second half. Maria Rocssa’a grieving mother and brittle lawyer match Perheninec’s skill for distinct characterization as she jumps from the archetypal emotional confines of a fifties housewife to the dubious liberation of a very direct caricature of a modern working woman.
As a response to Lorraine Hansberry’s acclaimed Raisin In the Sun, Norris has created a scathing commentary on the ways in which some things don’t change all that much over a period of fifty years, in life and in the theatre. A 2010 Guardian reviewer said it best with words that strike home in the blanched frequently under-subscribed seats of many Toronto theatres:
Ironically, there is no clearer reminder of the fact minority communities have yet to enter the middle class than a trip to the theatre. To watch a play about what happens when black people enter a white environment and yet to still be one of only a handful of black people in the audience, is a doubly disarming experience. As long as theatre remains so white and middle-class it will continue to be a deeply flawed medium for communicating a message about what white people have, and black people don't.
The Guardian 2010
CLYBOURNE PARK RUNS AT THE BERKELEY STREET THEATRE (DOWNSTAIRS)
UNTIL APRIL 28TH
a post-Easter parade of performance possibility
Harborfront Centre’s exciting myriad of cultural programs enables artists and audiences to take part in unique and innovative arts activities. Designed to give performing artists the opportunity to develop new work, this year’s installment of HATCH sports a generous number of queer, and queer-friendly artists involved in projects ranging from a drumming, tap-dancing, cheerleading, band, to ghosts from faded seafaring tales, Liberace inflected dramas, and a series of connected stories about several strangers who share the same bed in the same hotel room at different times.
Operating as a performing arts residency, HATCH is comprised of four proposals that are accepted annually. Each project is then each given a one-week residency at Harbourfront where the availability of space, resources, and a guest curator contribute to a valuable work-in-progress element of the overall process so crucial to the development of new work. Each week ends in a Saturday night public presentation, followed by a talkback session facilitated by the curator. These sessions punctuate the whole program as a much-needed opportunity for artists and spectators to respond to each other as the project meets its first audience.
This year’s guest curator, and acclaimed performance artist Jess Dobkin “loves that as artists and audiences [we get] the privilege of seeing something where the focus is on process. “ She feels that this is something largely unavailable to artists on a public scale, and considers the Harbourfront program to be a valuable and much needed resource for the community at large. Her own solo performance piece, Everything I’ve Got, was developed as part of HATCH in 2010, went on to become a full production at Buddies In Bad Times Theatre, and the script has been recently published in a special volume of The Canadian Theatre Review.
Dobkin elaborates on the program when she explains that “part of idea of HATCH is to do some experimenting, to take the week in a space and kind of come in with some specific questions and inquiries.” She feels that “while there are similarities and points of connection and links [the projects] are all quite different.” Audiences are given the rare opportunity to see something being worked through, as opposed to a finished project, thereby giving the spectator and the creator a unique interactive experience facilitated by talkback sessions following the presentation.
Jenn Goodwin & Camilla Singh
aggression and enthusiasm, kindness and rage, pride & regret
Starring Jenn Goodwin and Camilla Singh, Mortified adopts the format of a band in order to encompass a range of activities. Creating a sonic experience through movement and mayhem, the performance results in a “concert” that explores aggression and enthusiasm, kindness and rage, pride and regret, through tap dancing, cheerleading and drumming.
Goodwin is from Burlington, Ont., where she fell out of a window of a speeding car and walked away. She grew up playing with Barbie, listening to Black Sabbath, hosting make-out parties in her parents’ basement, and falling in love weekly. Her academic and performance credits include a BFA at Concordia University in Contemporary Dance with a minor in Video. Her dance work has been performed all over Canada, NYC, Amsterdam, Australia and Brussels.
Camilla Singh left her role as curator of Toronto’s MOCCA to experiment with materials in her studio and probe the questions that had formed around the experience of working in an office for a decade. She is currently researching and producing a series of uniforms for curators called Uniforms for Non-Uniform Work which will comprise a solo exhibition at the Art Gallery of York University in 2013.
The Empty Whole Group
THE SHEETS, THE...
“nothing that has made contact with the sheets can ever be fully bleached away”
Governor General Award-nominated playwright and actor Salvatore Antonio will be developing, as part of HATCH, a new performance creation exploring the expression – or lack thereof – of intimacy in all its banality, disconnectedness and solitude. A revealing and unsparing foray into the human need for emotional connection, sexual release and tactile contact, THE SHEETS, THE… lays bare the incongruities and intricacies of intimate relations between individuals both together and alone. At once sexually raw, dark, emotionally complex and fragile, the stories that unfold in THE SHEETS, THE… link together several strangers who share the same bed in the same hotel room at different times. While the sheets may be washed, and the surface stains removed, nothing that has made contact with the sheets can ever be fully bleached away.
Writer, actor and director Salvatore Antonio founded The Empty Whole Group as an i
nclusive extension of his independent creative work; bringing together other progressive performers and creators – both established and emerging – in a collaborative spirit with the purpose of exercising their artistic strengths, and stretching newer branches of their creative expression. The end result is a fresh, yet informed, new vocabulary for theatrical performance. Around a central idea or story, Antonio brings together well-suited artists to help build and “flesh out” a new work, with the specific focus of blurring the line between theatre, music, dance, and visual art. The end result is a more experiential performance extending past the perceived boundaries of most traditional artistic disciplines.
Paper Laced with Gold - Paper Laced Productions
truck stops, daydreaming, and waiting tables
Paper Laced Productions is writer/co-director Maggie MacDonald and producer/co-director Stephanie Markowitz. They focus on themes of gender, physical difference, class, and environmental issues, pursuing social justice through art that communicates passionately, and without irony. Their choice to work with artists from a mix of disciplines as performers is one of the ways they achieve a raw, innocent, performance style that minimizes the feeling of separation between audience and performer. MacDonald and Markowitz first collIn 1959, the St. Lawrence Seaway opened the heart of North America to seafaring ships, and the river lost its rapids and twisted where it used to turn. The young people who lived on its banks saw their roots washed away in the current. Now that the industries that asked the river to reroute are crumbling, the ghosts of the Seaway’s lost towns mingle with the living, forever looking for a place to settle. Paper Laced with Gold is a new musical about two of these lost characters, living on the banks of this once thriving part of Ontario. For 10 years, Betty has been waiting tables at a truck stop, day-dreaming her life away. One night, Kevin, a young thug with a familiar face, tries to steal her car. While awaiting the police, Kevin recognizes Betty as his old babysitter, and she recognizes him as a frightened, closeted teen. Slowly they reveal their mutual recognition, and Kevin tells the story of what brought him to the truck stop.
2005 with their post-apocalyptic musical, The Rat King Rock Opera, which was successfully mounted three times – at the Alchemy Theatre in Toronto, Indie Unlimited Fest at Harbourfront Centre and at the Lucille Lortel Theater in New York City. This year, Belle and Sebastian's Stevie Jackson joins the duo as musical collaborator on Paper Laced with Gold.
Pantheon - Kids on TV
“an apocalyptically gay band”
Kids on TV emerged from the Toronto party Vazaleen in the spring of 2003. John Caffery, Minus Smile and Roxanne Luchak have collaborated with musicians such as Boy George, Man Parrish, Shunda K of Yo Majesty, Julie Faught, Katie Stelmanis of Austra, and Diamond Rings. Throughout its history, the group has made short films and videos that have screened at festivals internationally. In addition, Kids on TV transform environments with live video projections. The party-starting band has played in clubs, warehouses, farms, festivals and bathhouses. Kids on TV have worked in schools as music teachers in collaboration with Mammalian Diving Reflex as well as facilitators at Converge, an annual conference in Toronto dealing with gender and sexuality. Since its inception, the group has toured Canada, the US and Europe, has played over 250 shows, and released music on several labels, most notably Chicks on Speed Records and The Co-operative of Blocks Recording Club. Kids on TV honours local roots planted by General Idea, Fifth Column and Will Munro. Kids on TV is an apocalyptically gay band.
Combining bouncy house music, old-school hip hop, Liberace piano drama, mutant super-hero roller-disco battles, love songs between closeted 20th-century artists and epic choral arrangements, Pantheon celebrates the historical and fictional figures of Kids on TV’s personal and collective mythologies. It explores inspiring, strange and obscure figures of resistance and sexual revolution. The works liberate and create positive space, and do so by referencing queer history, struggle and culture through music, dance, film, performance, and politics.
DON'T MISS HATCH!!! RUNNING THROUGH MID MAY
for further info re. tickets and times see http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/hatch/