Six world premieres commissioned by FFDN, live-streamed October 3, 2020, 2 p.m. EST.
Strange to admit, but I tuned into this year’s Fall for Dance North festival from a hotel room in Venice, something I would not have been able to do in prior years, but that has now become the norm in this new age of digital dance. FFDN commissioned six new works from dance companies across Canada on a rich program of digital content, including an augmented reality platform for social dance, a podcast, film recordings, workshops and artist chats in a bathtub (yes, they’re in a bathtub). Subtitled “The Flip Side,” this digital edition of FFDN delivers.
The Signature Program of new work was live-streamed from Toronto’s Fleck Dance Theatre almost seamlessly. A technical hitch interrupted my viewing of Flow by Jera Wolfe for Red Sky Performance, but fortunately, I could catch up later, watching on-demand. Flow was inspired by the intricate music of Chicago’s Third Coast Percussion, and I loved how the dancers maintained an unbroken energy. Wolfe’s new work, Soul, commissioned by the National Ballet of Canada for the Spotlight Series, premieres in the fall.
Joshua Beamish and Rena Narumi danced a contemporary no-touch pas de deux, aptly titled Proximity, choreographed by Beamish. In a wide pool of light, the camera played a part here too, moving around often at torso level, which was most effective when the dancers moved in slow motion, and motored backwards in a sudden change of pace.
I enjoyed Dialogue with DNA, a Gumboot performance – a South African dance by performers wearing Wellingtons – by Mafa Makhubalo, although I felt this was one dance that would really benefit from a live audience. The call-outs and escalating conversation between the onstage drumkit and Makhubalo were begging for the energy of a crowd.
Calgary-based tappers Lisa La Touche, Danny Nielsen and Laura Donaldson powered through Fool’s Gold, choreographed by La Touche. While I couldn’t quite follow the dramatic set-up to the dance itself – which was filmed after dark in Calgary’s DJD Dance Centre – I enjoyed the intensity and La Touche’s rebellious rap. Terra, a jazz dance by Kimberley Cooper, came next; my favourite work of the evening. The quartet of sneaker-clad dancers were captivating, diving in and out of the music and swishing their jewel-toned skirts.
Sonia Rodriguez, who this year celebrates 31 years with the National Ballet of Canada, danced a Spanish-infused pas de trois, Poema Ibérico by Vanesa Garcia-Ribala Montoya (of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal) with principal dancer Piotr Stanczyk and first soloist Spencer Hack. Poema, peppered with paso doble motifs and a blood-red and black set, left no doubt about its Spanish inspiration – an homage to both Rodriguez’s and Garcia-Ribala Montoya’s heritage. Poema closed the evening with the colours of the festival itself, a nod to the passion and drama of live performance even in these challenging times.
The Signature Program can be viewed until October 18.
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