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Evi-Dance is now providing space for reviews of dance performances; the hope is that there will be ongoing insightful reviewing of dance and physical theatre shows. Watch this space!



Congruence 2

Presented by Bouchardanse

Co-produced with pounds per square inch, and with FILA 13 Productions

Winchester Street Theatre, Toronto

October 10-12, 2019


Woman in Blue Softly Breathing

Choreographed by Lina Cruz

Performed by Sylvie Bouchard


Reviewed by Beverley Daurio


A large white zig-zaggy, sharp-edged geometric shape provides the defined dance area on the floor under general light. At the front, a two-dimensional rectangle and three-dimensional triangular object add black contrast. Off to the right hangs a strange towering mobile made of wire and bottles, adding curves and verticality to the horizontal array of straight lines. The piece unfolds inside the limits of this dramatic and minimalist set by Cheryl Lalonde.

Sylvie Bouchard hops into view, her long brown hair in a knot atop her head, wearing a sleeveless shirt and loose round-legged pants, bopping, bowlegged a bit, and somewhat startled. She is carrying a bottle with clear liquid in it, and pitter patters around the defined playing area as if she has just discovered herself in a strange place, bemused and curious, exploring.

Woman in Blue Softly Breathing is based out of a painting, or possibly two paintings of the same name by Picasso, in English titled “The Absinthe Drinker”—one of a Blue Period woman sleep-dreaming at a table in a bar, eyes closed, and the other of a woman with her brown hair in a knot on her head, with a bottle and a glass before her, sitting at a table, clearly in a marvellous café that embodies a certain atmosphere of European cosmopolitanism and artistic intensity.

It is interesting how Cruz never presents Bouchard’s character as a living person: she is manifesting a character from the inside of a painting before that painting has materialized. In a complex way, she is both the creator and the subject. She wanders, moves and dances among the flotsam and bits of a potential painting until she discovers how to manipulate the shapes into forms she (the absinthe drinker) can use, that will hold her up, that will create a form that beautifully solves the disarray of the original set and changes it into a formal, finished, wonderful meaningful-to-the-audience image.

The soundscape offers a nicely unpredictable avant-garde background to Bouchard’s often acrobatic and daring travels through the piece, from tinkling piano to bass beats to Bouchard blowing into the bottle she carries throughout the piece to create sounds.

Cruz, with Bouchard as her agent of magic, takes us inside the artistic process, and leads us, gently and wisely and with a lot of fun and strange moments, as Bouchard’s “character” discovers the puzzle pieces of the live “painting”, and begins to find ways to amend them and put them together. This series of explorations and discoveries forms the core of the piece, and it is a testament to Cruz’s design that we cannot predict or grasp the finished “picture” in advance, but are inculcated into the process of discovery itself. We are as surprised as the acrobatic, balancing and entrancing Sylvie Bouchard when suddenly all the parts fit and the work suddenly coheres.



Gravity of Descent

Choreography/Concept/Text by Gerry Trentham

Performed by Sylvie Bouchard and Learie McNicolls


Gerry Trentham’s Gravity of Descent also opens with an impressive and imaginatively dominating set also by Cheryl Lalonde: Sylvie Bouchard stands still as a statue, wearing one silver shoe (the other is closer to us on the floor) and draped in a fluffy white dress (that we later learn is made of paper) at the waist of a giant white cloth skirt, which is lying on the floor and radiating outward, covering more than half the stage. To her right, Learie McNicolls sits on a wooden chair then stands, dressed conservatively in a sweater vest and pants and brown leather shoes, near a strange rectangular contraption on the floor, that later gives out light and pours down measured sand, into and through his hands.

Bouchard and McNicolls have commanding presences. They are separate in their spaces yet manage to convey a powerful tension between them. They are individuals, yet at the same time produce auras of femininity and masculinity that are at once recognizable, purposefully gender-cliched, and archetypal.

The score, like the occasional extra lighting effects—for example, a spot on McNicolls as sand pours down from above and through his hands—is spare and for emphasis. Pings and noises occur from time to time. Bouchard recites poetic lyrics—“blackbirds in the air”—that repeat again toward the end of the piece and give a southern gothic feeling.

McNicolls slowly divests himself of most of his clothing, moving as if drawn by magnetism toward Bouchard and the white cloths. For her part, Bouchard slowly rustles toward us, eventually removes her white paper dress, which gains a kind of insincerity and falseness the closer she gets to us. Is it not a wedding dress, is this not some kind of coming together of two people?

It is not. Time passes and they appear to confer, but they do not connect except in the same powerful and tense way, distantly. McNicolls, stripped to his underwear, in molasses-like but strong movements, becomes entangled in the white cloth and puts on the dress discarded by Bouchard, as she, for her part, now dressed in a sleeveless sweater and pants, has abandoned the silver shoes.

There is something powerfully non-binary operating in the physical subtext of this piece, and Bouchard and McNicolls display and embody a transmutative humanness that Trentham has captured and held.




Choreography Hanna Kiel

Sts. Cyril and Methody Church Hall, Toronto

September 26-28 2019


Reviewed by Ted Fox


Twelve dancers move massed together but isolated in their own spaces oblivious to the others around them. Their bodies and minds consumed by the loud pulsating hypnotic rock music played by a live band hidden within the darkness of the stage.


Their movement consists of wide leg and arm extensions. Heads thrown back and nodding to the relentless beat. As are the heads of us sitting watching.


The mass gradually breaks up into individuals as they begin to acknowledge and interact with each other. Lifting their partners over and above and swinging them around and back, their faces awake with humanity.


It goes on until the dancers begin to form another mass, only one made of individuals relating and supporting each other.


Three members of the band come off the stage and join them, including band leader percussionist Greg Harrison.


Followed by another performer Zsakura Del Col delivering a compelling spoken word performance written by her and Robert Soria. The text complements the feelings and ideas I am experiencing.


"The body has been infected with future from unknown answer, the answer can only tell the truth from the past, forgotten history, forgotten names"


One performer comes very close. We can see his face etched in anguish. Beseeching us. "Help" can be faintly heard. A line from the text resonates: "What if that stranger who was lying in the middle of the street had all the answers?”


Choreographer Hanna Kiel has used the large room that is Sts. Cyril and Methody Church Hall to show us a microcosm of our technological society constantly bombarded by noise isolated from others with only ersatz faceless friends.


The dancers at the end are still a mass. But now made up of individuals who can work together and perhaps bring about a revolution.


Kiel has created an entertaining, emotional and challenging work in which the dancers excel in both the physicality of their movements and their very expressive mercurial facial expressions.



dance: made in canada

Cruz Series

Betty Oliphant Theatre, Toronto

August 16-18, 2019


Reviewed by Beverley Daurio


Logarian Rhapsody

Choreographed by Tedd Robinson

Performed by Ian Mozdzen and Alexandra Elliott

Logarian Rhapsody is an inverted, upside down Adam and Eve story, in which a man and woman dancer, both dressed in white suits—possibly disco suits—are tempted to bite into a green apple that is the centre of their intense attention.

The performers add to Charles Quevillon’s at times creepy and always intense soundscape with their busy, buzzy, running dialogue of urgent whispering back and forth. We cannot make out the words, so their voices form an impenetrable constant message.

As the two dancers interact, sometimes fighting over the apple, sometimes handing it back and forth, the apple takes on a kind of quiet symbolism: is it peace, or nature, or the beauty of the bounty of our land that is off limits to busy urban people? Why are they so upset about it and distressed by their decision? They are very discomboluated by actually biting into the apple, which they finally do—but it also quiets them. Robinson has again created a meditative piece that asks us to think about how we live our lives.


Phase Wash (excerpt)

Choreographed by Jolene Bailie

Performed by Carol-Ann Bohrn, Helene Le Moullec Mancini, Aaron Paul, Sam Penner

Jolene Bailie’s Phase Wash takes us out of the everyday into a strangely imagined social place where performers dressed in black bathing suits dance in hot creamy light, organizing and re-organizing themselves in solos, duets and ensemble segments.

The piece opens with a single dancer performing extreme body builder movements to an ethereal but heavy beating soundscape that includes a lot of synth and organ sounds underpinned by grinding.

As the dancers join and separate, attitudinally harsh, sometimes hopping, sometimes gripping each other, including some very funny and intriguing lifts—at one point, a woman is held upside down, with her face in the lifter’s stomach—and throughout, shiny flakes of light keep falling over the stage.

As the piece reaches its climax, they begin bowing to each other, then running together, finally disappearing into the darkness. This is a visually powerful work.


Janus is a god

Directed/choreographed by D.A. Hoskins

Performed by Danielle Baskerville

Janus is a Roman god of two faces, each looking in opposite directions, and is considered a god of “beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings… he looks to the future and to the past.” According to the program notes for DA Hoskins’ Janus is a god, these references are highly apposite, as the work samples and refers to and takes parts from pieces that Hoskins and Baskerville have worked together on over more than twenty years of performance and dance, and look to their past and future works together.

To the left of the stage hangs a massive plain white globe. Does it represent the moon, a whitened earth, or perhaps, a balloon? Around the stage are arranged small stations of props—here a mic and mic stand, there an upright post holding a bundle of soft brown stuffed cloth, there a pile of items including musical instruments, there a chair. Baskerville appears in full light, unrolling a long wire and setting off a loud red alarm, to the sound of persistent, heavy beat music, wearing a kind of skin tight space suit overall, and dancing vertically in the space with angular grace, arms extended.

At one point she covers her face with a grey scarf, hiding her identity; at another she removes her shirt, exposing vulnerable skin. The music shifts and shifts, from choral to rock to Baskerville herself speaking into the mic a poem about “Your body.”

Throughout, Baskerville exercises an easy grace and fluidity, with delicate balance in complicated turns, making the transitions from one station on the stage to another look like a journey through lands we would love to visit. At one point she plays a bugle; at other times she returns to the original position of the opening, centre stage and dancing. At the end, she unpacks the brown cloth bundle—it is a large, soft human shape, that she carries with her off stage. A beautiful, commanding performance of a challenging and intriguing piece.



dance: made in canada

Morrison Series

Betty Oliphant Theatre, Toronto

August 16-18, 2019


Reviewed by Beverley Daurio


La vie attend (excerpt)

Choreographers/Chorégraphes: David Albert-Toth, Emily Gualtieri

Dancer-collaborators/Danseurs et collaborateurs à la création: Joe Danny Aurélien, Marc Boivin, Simon-Xavier Lefebvre, Milan Panet-Gigon, Nicolas Patry

Dance Artists/Interprètes sur scène: David Albert-Toth, Joe Danny Aurélien, Simon-Xavier Lefebvre, Milan Panet-Gigon, Nicolas Patry


La vie attend, from Montreal’s Parts + Labour, begins with a man, mostly hidden behind a table that has been upended vertically, bragging in a bright spotlight about how fantastic his dance troupe is and how incredible the show we are about to see will be. This piece will “top all other performances,” he exclaims, “brace yourselves for the most vulnerability” and for “revelations” and “a new era.” This sounds funny and charming and also strange.

After the table comes down, five men, wearing casual jackets and slacks, begin to run about in between some tables and chairs onstage, to fight with pretend guns, as if we are watching a western or gangster movie. There is mayhem. “They will never take our freedom,” says one. This segment is madcap and fun. Slowly these interactions change into sports, into games, and dance, where unusual lifts—one man holding another like a plank, the held man with his hand over the other’s face— take good advantage of the male performers’ strength, and the piece morphs into stronger cooperation and dance, either with the entire troupe in synch, or in duets or trios.

The original bragging positioning is important, because the show, in which only male performers are included, slowly declines from heavy archetypical masculine uber competitiveness, into a more co-operative, gentle, nuanced engagement among the men as they dance in beautiful ensemble work, eventually gathering together and staring at us, the audience, as if we are intruders; and then they raise their arms and softly, softly fall back.


Glorious Fragility (excerpt)

Choreographed by Karine Ledoyen, with the performers

Dance Artists: Jason Martin, Simon Renaud

Design, manipulation and performative processing of video on stage: Andrée-Anne Giguère

Artistic Consultant and Repetiteur: Ginelle Chagnon


In this excerpt from Glorious Fragility, there are two performers seated at a table typing on a computer, and what they type is displayed in large letters on the back wall of the stage. Two other performers interact with and react to these texts, and later are reflected on this back wall.

The piece is built partly from the voices of 20 former dancers and choreographers, who speak, sometimes plaintively, sometimes joyously, sometimes philosophically, about what they miss about dancing. Their voices conjoin and separate, so that sometimes we can hear them clearly as individuals, and other times they are a muddy chorus of jumbled voices. The piece is broken into segments that follow from section headings projected on the wall: in “Entangled Bodies” the two male performers and the two women group together, one of the women holding a mic out for the men to speak. Another section is called “How much of yourself can you reveal?” and this invokes a different impulse in the physical expression of the dancers, as does “Abandon Yourself,” “How far can you push yourself?” and “VERTIGO.”

A very thoughtful piece, that makes one think about nostalgia and gesture and how we experience our vocations.


Kismet, Opposing Destiny

Choreographer/Composer/Dance Artist: Sashar Zarif

Dance Artists: Mateo Galindo Torres, Luke Garwood, Yiming Cai, Sebastian Oreamuno


Five male dancers in black tunics and black pants stand in a circle while Sashar Zarif in similar costume sings in Arabic and plays drum. The beat is hypnotic and the feeling is of a kind of ritual. I did not understand the words but the singing has the air of sacred places. The work, says the program, “is informed by the Sufi and Shamanic transformation ritual.”

As the piece continues, the five dancing men clap hands, stamp, circle around each other, re-arrange themselves and are in constant thrall to the lovely sounds Zarif is making. They form and re-form in different groupings, and the movement becomes faster and more frenetic.

Zarif is a hypnotic performer, and at one point leaves the percussion station to dance with the other men. When he returns to the drum and his singing, it is as if a journey has been completed. Kismet won the d:mic Audience Choice Award.


Four Works from Summerworks

August 8-10, 2019

Reviewed by Beverley Daurio



A movement installation

Directed and Choreographed by Jenn Goodwin in collaboration with Sarah Doucet, and performers Lua Shayenne, Sarah Doucet, Brandy Leary, Ravyn Wingz, Anita Nittoly; Diana Reyes (aka Fly Lady Di); Francesca Chudnoff; Costumes by Sarah Doucet; Sound by Paul Shepherd & Valerie Calam/Company Vice Versa

Summerworks Festival Lab programming

Site-specific work: Laneway running south from Queen Street, Toronto


After a walk through the sunny afternoon from the Toronto Media Arts Centre on Lisgar Street south of Queen Street West, the audience members for Jenn Goodwin’s site specific piece, Closer, are seated outside, on stools or folding chairs at the corner where two Toronto laneways meet. Our view is a long one, maybe 300 yards to the south. Two lines of garages in varying states of repair, with colourful doors, line either side of a stretch of rough grey asphalt, defining the laneway and framing our view.

Music starts, an ambiguous but pleasant soundscape that implies ocean waves, shopping malls, wind, background music with a vague rhythm—an un-pin-downable sonic accompaniment by Company Vice Versa (Valerie Calam and Paul Shepherd). Suddenly, far down the laneway, a rectangle of pink smoke puffs thickly up, obscuring the view, and a line of performers somewhat magically appears, walking together toward us, all wearing white. The effect is impressive—the dancer/performers give off strength and presence, even at such a distance—and as vague as the music. This vision of far away women in white—united—are they a sports team? models? soldiers? bakery workers? brides?

It is the genius of Goodwin’s abstract structuring that the performers themselves offer a clinic in how we, as a culture, are used to defining people, particularly women, by searching through stereotypes—are they TV doctors? Reality TV stars? Nurses?

The women process through a variety of struggles and get closer to us, fighting off spirits, making their way  through more pink clouds, disagreeing with each other, being affectionate, struggling together, some falling, some going back to help them up.

Things change. The music is suddenly emitting, not just smoothly from the large, expensive, manufactured speakers, but from a range of small, distinctly different devices each dancer holds, and the music is no longer clear and silvery—now it has edge, grind, and hiss and buzz—it is not simple and homogeneous.

As they approach, the individual faces and expressions of the dancers become readable and present to us; their postures and attitudes and costumes are unique. They disappear out of the stereotype of distance, and emerge, each person, as themselves. A lovely, moving piece.



Choreographed and performed by Anne-Flore de Rochambeau; Rehearsal direction and artistic advice by Marijoe Foucher; Lighting design by Hugo Dalphond; Sound design by Hani Debbache

When Anne-Flore de Rochambeau appears, in silence, out of the pitch dark of the stage in Fadeout, we cannot see her face or upper body or arms. She is standing facing us, behind a metre-wide strip of harsh white neon that hangs above waist level at centre stage. She is wearing khaki jeans, her feet bare.

Slowly, she begins to writhe, her hands appearing in the light, looking pained, twisted, crooked, and her lower body movement is uncomfortably limited and seemingly controlled by the small area that is lit. It is as if she is pushing her way out of a container of electric light, or an imaginary egg of darkness. The powerful white light of the neon shines into the eyes of the audience, making it hard to look directly at Rochambeau, so that we are as discomfited watching as she is in moving.

Live bird sounds come out of the dark, and the neon light occasionally flashes off, allowing Rochambeau to appear again in a different spot, giving a sense of disjointed time. We hear thunder and rain sounds—as if Rochambeau’s body is trapped in an artificiality somehow isolated from nature.

Is she a person, or a creature, or an idea? Impossible to say, as the soundscape shifts to bombing and violence, and she very slowly extricates herself, twitching awkwardly, until we can see her entirely and she has attained independence from the small space where she was trapped.

She is crawling, extended, alive, with expressive face and delicate hands, free but under an onslaught of sound, metallic scraping and distressed voices—then she is upright, and all we hear is her breath. Fadeout is a show that seems simple, but that is emotionally complex and resonates with the audience long after it is over.



Choreography by Daniel Bear Davis and Caro Novella; Sound Sample by Gretchen Jude;
Sound Arrangement by Daniel Bear Davis;
Text by Karen Barard, from "On Touching -- the Inhuman That Therefore I am;" Special Thanks to Guillermo Gomez Peña, Saul Garcia Lopez, John Zibell and the cast of Glitchbody and Nanostalgia

Des-Echoes begins with a man in a mechanic’s or janitor’s long-sleeved overalls walking a stage that is empty except for a broom and another set of overalls hanging from a wire stage left. He moves to the sound of a woman’s voice speaking a poetic text about intimacy: “When two hands touch,” and “finding the otherness of oneself” in touch.

It slowly becomes clear that the man has another person grotesquely zipped inside his overalls—and as this person struggles to be free of this encapsulation, he seems to have four hands, then four feet, and two heads, in a humorous sequence where they roll on the floor, she pops out more, and they struggle to control their oddly connected and restrained two bodies, one suit and two wills, trying to decide what to do.

For a while he continues to lug her around, until they fully unzip and she emerges, half naked and surprised. The next sequences show the two people negotiating a relationship, as she dresses in the other pair of overalls. Work is a subtext of this piece: who does the physical and emotional work, and how does a pair of people manage their concerted activities?

Their separation, as they sweep with the broom, confront, comfort, dance around as divided into two entities, seems hard on them. The light is general and diffuse and changes little during this piece. The sound includes extensions of the same female poetic voice, and Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me,” to which they dance together. By the end of the piece she is tucked back inside his suit, with him.

Is this piece about work and drudgery, emotional and practical? About our own dual natures, the feminine and masculine in all of us, and how imbalance or division is problematic? The text is about touch and intimacy, perhaps about our own intimacy with ourselves.


Black Ballerina

Created and performed by Syreeta Hector; Movement Dramaturgy by Seika Boye; Outside Eye -- J. Adam Brown; Set Design by Wesley Mckenzie; Musical Composition by Zarnoosh Bilimoria

Before the performance of Black Ballerina begins in the intimate incubator theatre at the Theatre Centre, the show’s creator and performer, Syreeta Hector, speaks through the sound system, offering a moving, different kind of land acknowledgement, that describes her own mixed heritage comprising Mi’kmaq and other ancestry, and explaining the condition in which this work is shown.

Black Ballerina is a work in progress, presented as part of the Lab segment of Summerworks, and was currently about half (or so) of its finished length, at around 30 minutes.

This solo show proceeds in sections, each demarcated by a new costume, music and performance change. Hector is wearing a blond wig, in silence, when a British man’s voice begins to speak in a documentary way and documentary voice, discussing how octupuses manage to avoid predators. She is sitting motionless in a pool of light, while sounds of water flow around, then begins to dance on pointe. Slowly, a disco beat plays, and becomes more ominous, speeding up. She runs in place, and goes faster and faster, until off comes the blond wig and the music shifts.

Hector moves through a number of dance incarnations, from ballet to hip hop to urban to Indigenous, transforming fluidly and elegantly, with seeming effortless delicacy and power of these different forms, flowing with the changes in music. The final segment has a bittersweet charm that seems at the same time constricting and sad, as she dons a tutu and turns, balletically, while music box music plays.

Because Black Ballerina is shown in somewhat mysterious mid-process, it is impossible to guess at a solid read of where it is going, or might end up in its final form. Its inventiveness and sense of exploration and play, and Syreeta Hector’s beautiful, moving performance, make me very eager to see the finished work.