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Dance festival in Toronto takes performance to new horizons

Toronto’s William Yong (Steer) creates visual images generated by movement.

David Hou

dance: made in canada/fait au canada
Princess Productions
Betty Oliphant Theatre
Runs Until
Saturday, August 17, 2013

A curated festival with a fringe element thrown in for good measure, the biennial dance: made in canada/fait au canada (d:mic/fac) has surprise and interest baked into its very structure. Producer Yvonne Ng and two guest curators (dance photographer Cylla von Tiedemann and Vancouver choreographer Serge Bennathan) each select two or three dancesmiths. And for the late night series, WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), five performances are chosen by lottery.

For this year's festival, Ng and Bennathan selected two works each, while von Tiedemann chose three from choreographers from Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver, to make up seven mainstage and five late nights performances, which is presented in four distinct series that are repeated twice, all crammed into four days.

This is only the second d:mic/fac, but the festival has become an important element in Toronto's dance scene, with the three mainstage series attracting large crowds. (Curiously, the late-night program, which begins at 11 p.m., is still struggling to find a following.) For the performers, a success at d:mic/fac can lead to an engagement elsewhere– I spotted key presenters and programmers in the audience.

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The mainstage series includes three world premieres and three Toronto premieres, which certainly is of audience interest. The wild card late-night series also contains strong performances. Over all, the late-night dancing is almost, at times, better than the choreography. Much of the music has been composed specifically for the dance at hand, and dance benefits from original music, which is tailored to the choreographer's vision. Electronica plus ambient sound design is the preferred choice of delivery.

Ng's selections choices are built around innovation – choreographers who are taking dance to new horizons. Toronto's Femmes du Feu (The Water's Edge) create aerial dance, while Winnipeg's Gearshifting Performance Works (Hybrid Human) merges dance with technology.

The Bennathan series also includes a choreographer entranced with technology – Toronto's William Yong (Steer), who creates visual images generated by movement. Bennathan, however, links Yong's high tech with Benjamin Kamino's low-tech approach.

Von Tiedemann was inspired by dance that expresses stories and ideas through movement. Louis Laberge-Côté's male duet (…et meme après) analyzes the separation anxiety of lovers, while Lucy Rupert (The Speed of Out Vertigoes) was inspired by the 100th anniversary of Einstein's theory of relativity. Von Tiedemann's third choice is a charming quartet (Canvas 5x5) about Celtic heritage, choreographed by Tedd Robinson.

The vibrant WYSIWYG includes works by Toronto's Throwdown Collective, Amy Hampton, Shannon Litzenberger, skindivers dance company/Hanna Kent, and Vancouver's Jamee Valin/Valence Movement dance theatre. The works encompass three solos, a trio and a quartet.

In the final analysis, d:mic/fac gives an important dance profile to the dog days of a Toronto August. We await the 2015 festival with anticipation.

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