It's that time again when I hand out the Citron Dance Awards for the good, the bad and the ugly of the year. Looking back over 2009, there wasn't a lot of dance that swept me away. On the other hand, there were a number of worthy pieces - which lands the last 12 months a 7 out of 10 rating overall. What follows are my highlights in no particular order.
MOST EXCITING CHOREOGRAPHY
Shoot the Moon by England's Paul Lightfoot and Spain's Sol Leon, performed by the sublime Netherlands Dance Theatre at Toronto's Luminato festival in June. Ferocious choreography, combined with a miraculous storybook set and inspired video design, showed different perspectives of a relationship in turmoil.
Brazil's Grupo de Rua at Festival TransAmériques this spring. While Bruno Beltrao's hip-hop fusion H3 was a bore, his nine machismo dancers defined onstage sex appeal.
INSTANT CANADIAN CLASSIC
Montreal choreographer Deborah Dunn's Four Quartets, inspired by the poetry of T.S. Eliot. Performed at both Vancouver's Dancing on the Edge Festival and St. John's' Festival of New Dance, Dunn's subtle and coy solo is a magnificently crafted fusion of text and movement.
CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR
Punto Ciego by Montreal's Rubberbandance Group. Choreographer Victor Quijada tried his hand at a full-length hip-hop/ballet fusion about shifting perspectives - good concept, but overlong.
MOST OVERSTAYED WELCOME
Brazil's Grupo Corpo. The company played dates in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver. While the dancers are terrific, the work of choreographer Rodrigo Pederneiras is becoming predictable.
BEST SITE-SPECIFIC DANCE
Edmonton choreographer Gerry Morita's Spatial Pull at St. John's' Festival of New Dance. The dancers followed each other in a terrifying slow-motion tumble down the steep steps beside Newfoundland's Supreme Court building, ending up trancelike along the water's edge.
MOST HYPE, BEST RESULT
Juliette Binoche and Akram Khan in the dance-theatre duet In-I, which was part of Montreal's Danse Danse series. The French actress, 44, and the British choreographer, 33, created a passionate love story with a dark side.
MOST HYPE, WORST RESULT
Jorden Morris's Moulin Rouge - The Ballet for Royal Winnipeg Ballet. Never has Belle Époque Paris looked so bland.
MOST DARING MIXED
The National Ballet of Canada's Innovation, which featured world premieres by Canadian choreographers Peter Quanz ( In Colour), Crystal Pite ( Emergence) and Sabrina Matthews ( Dixit Dominus). Pite's brilliant exploration of collective consciousness captured all four Dora Mavor Moore Dance Awards.
MOST STARTLING PHYSICAL IMAGES
Berlin-based Sasha Waltz's Korper, which appeared at both Ottawa's National Arts Centre and Montreal's Festival TransAmériques. " Korper" means bodies, and by the time Waltz was through, she had used breath-taking physicality to evoke genocide, religion, tyranny, the sale of body parts and cosmetic surgery - not to mention love and death.
MOST CREATIVE USE OF PROPS
Toronto's Susie Burpee, who turned up in three different Toronto shows and St. John's' Festival of New Dance. Whether the diaphanous draperies and telephone of Mischance and Fair Fortune, the suitcase and high heels in The Rolling Parlour Cabaret, or the plethora of boom boxes in A Mass Becomes You, Burpee made incisive statements about the human condition through objects.
MOST PROLIFIC CHOREOGRAPHER
James Kudelka, who made pieces for Ballet British Columbia, Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie, Claudia Moore and School of Toronto Dance Theatre. Luckily, Kudelka continues to create inventive and intriguing works.
MOST INTERESTING FOREIGN CO-PROS
A three-way tie. Toronto Dance Theatre's Berlin Project, with German choreographers Christoph Winkler and Felix Marchand setting works on the TDT dancers. COBA's BaKari E. Lindsay and England's Bawren Tavaziva co-choreographing City of Tribes, performed jointly by both companies. National Ballet School's Assemblée Internationale, showcasing 13 different ballet schools in choreography reflective of their heritage and student-created dances performed with international casts.
MOST SURPRISING CASTING
So You Think You Can Dance Canada winner Nico Archambault as Rudolf Nureyev in Moze Mossanen's eponymous television film. In a Nureyev wig, and with judicious editing, hip-hop Archambault actually looked balletic.
MOST DISAPPOINTING KUDO
The choice of best male dancer at The Eighth International Competition for the Erik Bruhn Prize in Toronto. American Ballet Theatre's Cory Stearns didn't figure on anyone's radar, but the judges went for clean - if colourless - technique.
Toronto's Thakkar family: Sudha Thakkar Khandwani, 75, artistic director of Kalanidhi Fine Arts; Menaka Thakkar, 65, artistic director of Canada's oldest Indian dance company; and Rasesh Thakkar, 73, who is creative angel for both sisters. This dynamic trio keeps pushing the buttons of traditional and contemporary Indian dance.
GONE BUT NOT FORGOTTEN
Vancouver's Lola MacLaughlin. As her evocative piece Provincial Essays, inspired by the natural beauty of her beloved British Columbia, was travelling the country, she lost her battle with cancer. The tour became a testament to her art.
2009 in review
We'll spend the next two weeks looking back at the year that was in arts and entertainment.
Tuesday / Film by Liam Lacey
Wednesday / Music by Robert Everett-Green
Saturday / Architecture by Lisa Rochon
Mon. Dec. 28 / Theatre by J. Kelly Nestruck
Tues. Dec. 29 / Books by John Barber
Wed. Dec. 30 / Visual arts by Sarah Milroy
Thurs. Dec. 31 / Television by John Doyle
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