Thursday, October 4, 2012



L-R sitting: Louis Laberge-Cote, Johanna Bergfelt and Kristen Dennis perform in the world premiere of Expire, choreographed by ProArteDanza Artistic Director Roberto Campanella 
and Artistic Associate Robert Glumbek
proartedanza's current selection of dance programs, running until October 6th at the Fleck Dance Theatre (Harbourfront) is a diverse, thrilling, at times overly electic collection of intriguing choreographic sequences.

Roberto Campanella's Decorum, the first offering of the evening, provides a beautifully cloistered, balletic study in physical and emotional relationship-based values - originally created for Ballet Jorgen and re-worked for Rex Harrington and Evelyn Hart in 2005. Kristen Dennis and Tyler Gledhill take on this passionate, brief, and tightly conceived duet with great precision as they sustain a kind of concealed, smoldering emotion that acts as a perfect counterpoint to the intense musical selections (Tabula Rasa , 1. Ludus - Con Moto from Silencio; Part, Glass & Martynov by Avro Pärt)

Positioning Gledhill as a kind of 'straight' man who acts as secondary but crucial physical support for his paramour's skilfull and beautiful contortions, the piece leaves one with the all too fleeting sense of love gone terribly dramatic and passionately private. 

Gorgeous costuming by Melanie McNeill is in perfect sync with the emotion and the choreography as form fitting formal wear hugs Gledhill's powerful physique - while the soft translucent folds of Kristen Dennis's frock flails and flutters with delicate athletic prowess at every lift, flight of fancy, and romantic endowment.   

Robert Glumbeck and Roberto Campanella's co-conceived piece, Expire, dares to use what appears to be a large swath of tie-dyed fabric to gorgeous effect. Dancers skillfully weave in and out of what could have been a mere textile induced cliche 
in the hands of less skillful performers. Ultimately the vivacity, nuance, and sheer precision of the kinetically inclined draped forms, as they move in and out of the mind's eye with a powerful fabric-ated flair, renders the work a stunning visual study in "physiological and psychological well-being" affected profoundly by the "simple act of breathing." (program note) Filled with a myriad of somewhat disjointed moments that could use more succinct work on the transitions, Expire might have fared better at the beginning of the program (before the perfectly pitched length of the opening duet, Decorum) - and it could be shorter by at least a third. As it stands, the work manages to sustain even the most disconnected moments through choreographic diversity, skilled execution, and Melanie McNeill's evocative set & costume design.

L-R: Kristen Dennis and Johanna Bergfelt perform in the world premiere of Expire, choreographed by ProArteDanza Artistic Director Roberto Campanella and Artistic Associate Robert Glumbek

Kevin O'Day's We Will (2008) delights and skillfully estranges the ear and eye with brief, startling, at times disarming moments of spoken text that attempt to impose a kind of post-modern self-consciousness onto the dancers as they engage in a battle of "wills where two support, tease, and destroy and desire each other in mercurial fashion." (program note) This supposed mercuriality is incredibly effective, yet broken in a somewhat bewildering way by the unexpected moments that break the fourth wall with a surprising textual candor that doesn't quite gel. The repeated, spoken idea of 'starting over' - once the action has clearly begun to engage viewers - might have been handled with a more paradoxical blend of fluidity and disjointed stagecraft (i.e. - lighting, sound). Somewhat lengthy and repetitive at times, the intricate, challenging physical feats displayed by Robert Glumbeck and Mami Hata give the piece an exhilarating charm that overcomes the time-based & narrative concerns that the concept of 'expiration' evokes.

Campanella and Glumbeck end the evening with their mesmerizing Beethoven’s 9th - 1st Movement (2009). A row of chairs act as a simple starting point for a labyrinthine sequence of movements that take on a kind of Master Class effect as each dancer rises and takes their turn at paying homage to an “incomparable piece of music.” The thundering strength and familiarity of Beethoven’s masterpiece is matched by the dancers, providing a very satisfying finale to an evening that utilizes an incredible diversity of sight and sound.

Front: Delphine Leroux and Tyler Gledhill perform in Beethoven's 9th - 1st Movement, choreographed by ProArteDanza Artistic Director Roberto Campanella and Artistic Associate Robert Glumbek

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