Monday, May 30, 2016

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From its inception in 1999, Power Ball thrives as an ambitious fundraising event that provides vital funds for exhibitions and public programs at The Power Plant. The party has since set the standard as one of the most influential and vibrant art galas in Toronto. Attracting a sophisticated ‘Who’s Who’ of guests, the party brings together the worlds of fashion, film, media, finance, advertising, music and the visual arts.

Power Ball is famed for transforming each gallery space into an immersive art experience, allowing guests to enjoy the luxuries of a vivacious party; all while being surrounded by site specific works of art. Notable past artists include CONFETTI SYSTEM, Jon Rafman, Jesi the Elder, Marisa Hoika and Philippe Blanchard.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

James Kudelka's Against Nature, with a beautiful and concise narrative from Alex Poch-Goldin, is an elegant and engaging piece of dance theatre that incorporates grand operatic overtones in a lush, intimate manner. The sensual and complex text, based on the novel by Joris Karl Huysmans, is a psychological jigsaw of puzzling proportions located within the Symbolist aesthetic movement.

As an example of what has formally been considered Decadent Literature, Huysmans explores the principal character's distaste for - and revelling within - bourgeois society. A well dressed retreat (gorgeous costumes by Jim Searle, Chris Tyrell, & Hoax Couture) into a reclusive, self-constructed life finds the protagonist/anti-hero indulging in art, beauty, and just plain decadent living. Oscar Wilde, James Whislter, and Paul Valery - among others - were among Huysmans' greatest fans. Wilde and Whistler considered the book a kind of bible for living.

Poch-Goldin's libretto, included as a program insert, is crafted in fascinating and well balanced free verse format - with delightful couplets and envelope rhymes carefully scattered - echoing the Symbolist poet aesthetic of the late nineteenth century, and yet ringing true for a contemporary ear through direct and accessible language that allows the drama to unfold within three distinct forms - music dance and theatre - as an elegant and powerful representational triumvirate of sight, word, and musical motif.

The beauty of the music by James Rolfe, sung by Alexander Dobson (with a strong recurring musical counterpart coming from Geoffrey Sirett) integrates well yet overwhelms slightly - as opera so successfully can - the overall narrative. Including the libretto in the program allows audiences to take home ideas and images from this extravagant and layered experience and consider the possibilities that the live dance/drama gestures toward in a variety of lush and provocative ways.
top, Alexander Dobson - bottom left, Geoffrey Sirett - bottom right, Laurence Lemieux

Laurence Lemieux, as the mostly silent servant, has the ability to retain a smooth, haunting rhythm throughout, never faltering - slithering and moving sensually across the stage, revealing slight moments of eroticism, and always in complete control of a fine dancerly form that embodies the story and the action in enthralling gestural ways. When she dances with Sirett - who seamlessly takes on the role of singer and dancer - they glide through a beautifully furnished spare playing space  (set and props by Joe Pagnan) with rhythmic dexterity - a perfect contrast to the theatrical modern dance movement that accompanies Alexander Dobson's near continual, sung narrative.

Dobson's presence opens the sixty minute piece with a subtle bout of direct musical address, and journeys through the score with vocal precision, beauty, and power. Sirett's secondary singing role, not really secondary at all, is foregrounded in perfect unison with Dobson - at times joining him in brief moments of sung text - as they take on a kind of dual reflective shadowy pose within the story that depends upon class separation, subservience, and subtly suggested erotic interplay between the three characters as duos, trios, and individual bodies commingle and conspire.

And yet it is not really about story when you are right there - confined comfortably within the Citadel's intimate performing space. It is all about an impeccable commingling of dance music voice and theatre as they wash over us and manage to bring together distinct forms in a seamless and powerful manner.
Projection by Jeremy Mimnagh provides a background framing device that consolidates the central characters taste in art through fades and focused images that create a kind of Dorian Gray effect as a large gilded frame contains lovely, haunting, and moveable images. Nell Coleman's delightful  puppet appears suddenly and surprisingly, mimicking the action and providing a snapshot of post modern reflectivity as Lemieux manipulates her own presence against the duo of male power she is surrounded by - a duo of homosocial proportions that never fulfills the continuum homosociality promises yet never fully provides. This a wildly successful example of three's company, two's a crowd, and there is never enough when decadence abounds. That was confusing - as sentences come and go within decadent and divine, faintly euphuistic symbolic modes, tra la...
                  Laurence Lemieux

Kudleka's concept, his direction and his varied, gorgeous choreography, combined with his connection to Coleman Lemieux & Comapgnie - it all becomes an impeccable assemblage, a multi-disciplinary project that is wonderful to behold. Onstage musicians round out the spectacle with an integrated grace and costumed unity that set the stage, at the outset, for a kind of up close and personal experience of fully fleshed out dimensions.

The overall skill and precision can be summed up in a single unlikely image. Lemieux, as a gilded turtle crawling under a desk, moving out of the beautiful bodily forms she creates as one of two servants, is an example of how a perhaps odd and difficult task - performing a gesturally anthropomorphized four legged creature - can become mesmerizing. Her arms and legs, fully enabled by a wholistic corporeal talent for presenting a complex idea in a singularly evocative way, make one believe in tortoise elegance in a lovely, gradually haunting, and beautifully quirky manner. Like the title of the show, she moves against nature, becoming nature, then moving seamlessly back into a natural aesthetic presence she executes flawlessly throughout - representing the overall effect of all of the elements and artists involved.
STRING TRIO - Piano Steven Philcox, Violin Pamela Attariwala, Cello Carina Reeves
Against Nature / À Rebours
Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie
Choreography by James Kudelka
Toronto Dates:
May 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 2016  |  8pm
Sunday May 8 & 15, 2016  |  4pm
The Citadel
304 Parliament Street, Toronto
$50 General Admission
Box Office by phone: 416.364.8011 xt.1
- See more at:

Sunday, May 8, 2016


    photos by Rita Taylor

ON MAY 7TH, 2016, DanceWorks (AT HARBOURFRUONT;S FLECK THEATRE) present[ed] Company 605’s brand-new work Vital Few with and for six unique performers, a collaborative undertaking utilizing mechanisms of constant co-dependence and interrelation between the dancers. Each performer’s own distinct expression, movement, and choice making weaves together to collectively build the moving sculpture of the group body, the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Acknowledging both an autonomy and responsibility to the group, the struggle of coexistence within the set parameters and finite space continuously informs the content of this hyper connected dance. The work pushes the company into new physical territory to further explore the essence of unison and togetherness, the negotiation of group dynamics, and the preservation of self inside the collective consciousness.


What begins as a six figured human sculpture set to the nostalgic strains of Caruso singing Bizet - shot through an elegant gramophone effect - explodes into an array of sight and sound ranging from sharp shadowy projections to tech-oriented aural effect that highlights the movement that a half dozen dancers execute beautifully and rigorously throughout a 65 minute tour de force. 

The beauty of the projections battles a little and draws slight focus away from the onstage movement, and yet the simple yet complementary reflective mylar floor panels, and the casual costuming demand a fragmented back and forth attention for a thrilling evening of multi-disiciplinary dance theatre that evokes film, spectacle, athletic display - all rife with diverse influences from ballet to seemingly effortless gliding and gymnastic expertise as bodies flail and fly through a series of close knit group effort and individual expertise.

Structurally, the program moves seamlessly from the historic strains of an iconic opera singer into more contemporary musical modes and then back again - leaving the audience, in the final moments, with a thrilling and deftly executed sculptural creation assembled by the ensemble from the mylar floor they have been salling across all evening.

The men's costumes, although featuring their fine buxom presence, tend to bewilder a touch as the casual nature of their almost rugby'esque rehearsal duds might have been a little more akin to the neutral, less associative clothing the women were wearing. The gender balance is al little too cis-genderly sharp here, and given the company's pure innovation, and the eclectic presence of projections, music, and a startlingly playful sculptural finale through object and a summarizing mylar mountainscape - well, the men might have been clad in something a tad more tabula rasa and a little less track and field.

But there is never a dull moment as Company 605's newest creation moves  them  "into new physical territory to further explore the essence of unison and togetherness, the negotiation of group dynamics, and the preservation of self inside the collective consciousness."


Wow. Just… Wow.... riveting—physically, sonically, and visually. By now, local dance audiences know Company 605 for its visceral embrace of hybrid forms, as displayed in productions that have encompassed ballet, contact improv, hip-hop, and jazz dance styles along with elements of gymnastics and martial arts. Speed and precision have been the troupe’s hallmarks, and those are still present in Vital Few, which often seems uncanny in the way its six dancers move with the unforced synchronization of flocking birds.... 65 minutes of excellence.”            
Alexander VartyThe Georgia Straight (Vancouver), March 2016
info below from online source: 
Vital Few highlights autonomy and responsibility within a collective consciousness.  Based on individual dancers’ choice-making within a group dynamic, the six dancers - Laura Avery, Hayden Fong, Josh Martin, Renee Sigouin, Jessica Wilkie, and Sophia Wolfe - share in the creative process, forming a moving sculpture of the group body, the whole greater than the sum of its parts.  Directed by Co-Artistic Directors Lisa Gelleyand Josh Martin, Vital Few incarnates the struggle of coexistence within set parameters and finite space in this hyper-connected dance.
Vital Few had its world premiere at the Vancouver International Dance Festival in March, then toured throughout British Columbia, followed by three dates in Quebec including Montreal and Quebec City. It heads to Edmonton (May 26-27) and then Ottawa for the Canada Dance Festival (June 9) after its DanceWorks Toronto appearance on May 7.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Fabrizio Filippo & The Summoned

Fabrizio Filippo in The Summoned 

Tony Nappo, Rachel Cairns, John Bourgeois, Maggie Huculak, Kelli Fox, Fabrizio Filippo in The Summoned (photos by Cylla von Tiedemann)

Following the death of a billionaire tech visionary, the most important people in his life are summoned to an airport hotel for the reading of his will. They know their lives are about to change, but what transpires is nothing short of a paradigm shift in the very future of technology and human nature. A world premiere from celebrated Canadian screenwriter, actor, and playwright Fabrizio Filippo.

At the heart of Fabrizio Filippo’s new play The Summoned, is a deep and abiding respect for women that is both endearing and unnerving. In a talkback session this past week an audience member suggested that there wasn’t enough back story for the central female character - the mother. And yet this seems to be part of the very complex point being made in the play, as all of the character’s seem, by degree, both deep and shallow, finally coming together by the end as complex comminglings of humanity and other plugged in planetary sources. 

A rich play between humanization and dehumanization takes centre stage. By the end we know all we need to know - and less, and more - than we may care to in a world where humanity is wreaking havoc as technology - and its minions - play sorcerer’s apprentice to what seems to be an inevitable human condition - moving as close and as faraway from our nature as humanly possible. 

Whatever nature is - constructed, deconstructed, natural, unnatural, ridiculous, and/or sublime...
Rachel Cairns, Fabrizio Filippo

Under the superb direction of Richard Rose, an ensemble cast delivers this skilful, witty, and intelligent text heavy comic drama with amazing dexterity - all directed within a long four foot wide rectangle that gives the up close and impersonal impression of a strained dysfunctional panel of sorts - gathered together to learn, to decipher, to love, and to bemoan the details of the lives they, and their closest colleagues have lived. Details that seem to have gone unnoticed in a world obsessed with the next paradigm shift that shapes our collective minds and our compromised environments…

Maggie Huculak, Kelli Fox, Fabrizio Filippo

Writer Fabrizio Filippo takes on a leading role as a narrator and a primary character within a gradually unfolding ninety minute intrigue-laden plot that begins as a complex puzzle and ends as a beautiful testament to human devotion, connection, and deception. 

Filippo’s breakneck timing, and his charismatic presence is matched by a cast that embodies the sum of its parts with impressive bravado. All of the characters have starring roles. Tony Nappo is positioned well as the slightly bumbling yet always confident Quentin, lending physical aplomb and sharp edged characterization to an absorbing performance. 

Kelli Fox, as Laura, with a fine sense of corporate sexuality and a laugh that never fails to engage and enthral, is dressed to the nines in a form fitting black dress (costumes by Charlotte Dean) that features the sensual power and the fervent finesse of a woman at the top - and the bottom - and the sideways - of her game.

Rachel Cairns as Isla, presents a great youthful vibrancy - replete with physical flexibility and a fun filled persona that flirts and flies in the face of the rampant manipulation that surrounds her.

John Bourgeois as Gary inserts a 'true' cisgendered blend of confidence and comic pathos as his simultaneous fumbling and overpowering emotional catharsis plays on every word. With commanding, versatile presence his performance sees and seizes every opportunity as it arises and dissolves with the flick of an algorithm - whatever the hell an algorithm is. And yet this is the beauty of a text that plays unflinchingly with complicated computer language and gives it a sharp, engaging dose of entertainment value. At the end of the play, a computer geek-filled narrative presents mind-boggling technical content that fills a poetic and dramatic vessel with impeccable theatrical flair.

Fabrizio Filippo, John Bourgeois

And then there’s the central maternal figure, played with great style and grace by Maggie Huculak, as she paces and traces the stage with immense sincerity and skepticism - forever protecting her domain - a domain constantly configured and deployed by a mostly male ruling class. Her brief summarizing exclamations at the end of the play - concerning her role as a mother - define the character with a subtle smouldering intensity that gives a sharply drawn character subtle depth and concise, non-sentimentalizing emotional import. Too much too soon would have given too much away - too soon. Huculak's Annie is a wise, wonderful, and skilfully created character whose journey is something an audience must read - between, during, on top of, and after the lines - have been spoken...

Alon Nashman’s voice emanating from the walkie talkie - most notably during a final scene with Filippo, adds the all seeing all knowing paternal God-like element. The unseen overseer possesses an eerie detachment that is beautifully and hauntingly framed by Kurt Firla’s vibrant and varied video design.

Rachel Cairns, John Bourgeois, Maggie Huculak, Kelli Fox, Fabrizio Filippo

The Summoned summons us all - and asks us - to believe in a future that may somehow be able to take technology and humanity and make them into compatible bedfellows. That remains, as always, to be seen. As one of the actors suggested in the talkback session, dehumanization may not be all bad  - indeed, in a world where humanity does not always know how to behave, to be human. Fillipo poses probing and powerful questions that only future generations may boldly behold - and begin to find some answers to.

But in the meantime - in between time - Fabrizio Filippo has plenty to say about the possibilities as he navigates final frontiers ranging from sexual taboo to lone billionaires whose final gestures may become all-consuming.

Don't miss this fabulous exploration of all we have come to know through the weird, wonderful and wild world of computerland.

playwright and actor Fabrizio Filippo 



Friday, May 6, 2016

James Kudelka & Against Nature

information below; fromà-rebours

Coleman Lemieux & Cie: Against Nature / À Rebours

Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie presents the world premiere of Against Nature / À Rebours with choreography by James Kudelka

Against Nature / À Rebours is the second in a series of music/dance/theatre pieces by James Kudelka (the first being the acclaimed From the House of Mirth), featuring original music by James Rolfe, Libretto by Alex Poch-Goldin and inspired by a book of the same name by author Joris-Karl Huysmans.  Laurence Lemieux performs in this beautiful new work with Steven Philcox on piano, Parmela Attariwala on violin and Carina Reeves on cello.

                              Geoffrey Sirett & Laurence Lemieux
                              photo by Jeremy Mimnagh

“I had come back time and again to Against Nature, a very strange novel by Joris Karl Huysmans. It is sensuous, celebrating smell, touch, colour, skin, poetry, painting, sex, and home decorating; to the point of decadence. A man, tired of the debauched and decadent world in which he has lived becomes a recluse, and aims to create his own universe within his home. What starts as a celebration of ‘nature’, however, becomes a personal disaster as he turns far away from the world.”   
              - James Kudelka, Choreographer

Geoffrey Sirett, Alex Dobson, & Laurence Lemieux
photo by Jeremy Mimnagh

May 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 2016  |  8pm
Sunday May 8 & 15, 2016  |  4pm
The Citadel, 304 Parliament Street, Toronto
$50 General Admission

for more information on the company see;