|DanceBrazil performed Jelon Vierira’s Malungos at Toronto's Fall for Dance North festival. (Photo: Andrea Mohin)|
Toronto fell big time for the inaugural Fall for Dance North festival that took over the city’s Sony Centre earlier in the autumn. An initiative of artistic director Ilter Ibrahimof and executive director Madeleine Skoggard, the two-part program showcased exciting new dance creation from across Canada, and other points around the world including New York where the Fall for Dance franchise launched in 2004. Like the original, Fall for Dance North (so-called because of the event’s revamped presence north of the 49th parallel) offered up a variety of dance styles at a cost of $10 a ticket. The Sony Centre, which seats approximately 3,200, was sold-out for each of the three performances that took place from Sept. 29 to Oct. 1 – proof that if you make dance affordable the people will come. But that wasn’t the only reason the festival packed them in.
|Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater's Kirven Douthit-Boyd in Robert Battle's Takademe. (Photo by Andrew Eccles)|
There was stiff competition for the audience’s attention, but a company like Toronto Dance Theatre seemed actually to thrive on the pressure. TDT’s performance of Vena Cava, a seductively rhythmic work by company artistic director Christopher House, greatly benefited from the expansive dimensions of the Sony Centre which is more than seven times larger than its usual Toronto venue, the 440-seat Fleck Dance Theatre. As performed by the 12-member company, House’s choreography, named for one of two large veins carrying blood from the body to the heart, flowed with vital intensity through the wide-open performance space. The dancers had more space in which to move and took advantage of every inch, throwing their limbs with abandon into the swirling void. Vena Cava, which dates to 1998, never looked better.
No. 24, a contemporary pas de deux by rising Canadian choreographic star, Guillaume Côté, a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada, also looked re-invigorated by a change in venue. Originally presented at the nearby Four Seasons Centre in 2013, No. 24 visualizes the extremely fast scales and arpeggios heard in Italian composer Niccolo Paganini’s Caprice No. 24. The piece opened the festival with a bang. Rapidly and dynamically danced by Côté’s fellow company members, Evan McKie and Kathryn Hosier, No. 24 also featured the talents of Canadian violinist Benjamin Bowman who performed the Paganini score live on stage, positioned close to the dancers who pretzeled around him. The music and the dance formed an invigorating partnership. When the audience roared its approval it was clear that the festival had quickly fulfilled its mandate: Everyone watching had fallen in love.
Deirdre Kelly is a Toronto-based journalist, author and internationally recognized dance critic. She writes for Dance Magazine in New York and the Dance Gazette in London, and is a contributor to the International Dictionary of Ballet (St. James Press). A staff writer at The Globe and Mail, she was her newspaper's award-winning dance critic from 1985 until 2001 before transitioning to the Style section as the fashion reporter. She has also served as the paper's rock critic and as an investigative reporter in the visual arts with a focus on art crime. The best-selling author of Paris Times Eight and Ballerina: Sex, Scandal and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection, recently re-released in paperback, she writes on dance, theatre, the visual arts and fashion for Critics At Large.