dance: made in canada: Morrison Series: Shows by Parts + Labour, Karine Ledoyen and Sashar Zarif


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.