TEN, Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre, Toronto, until Feb. 11, 2017
Anyone who skipped last night’s performance of TEN because of the snowstorm has cause for regret. The Birmingham, UK company ACE (African Cultural Exchange) gave probably the best performance ever presented by the 23-year-old dance series Dance Immersion.
TEN is a show inspired by stories of migration, choreographed by José Agudo, a one-time Flamenco dancer who is assistant choreographer with the Akram Khan Company in London.
Six dancers – Sophia Preidel, Ciara Baldwin, Christopher Radford, Vanessa Guevara, Thomas Tindall and Iona Waite – garbed in flowing pale green tunics and leggings, perform an intricately patterned, high-energy dance of exciting effects. Guiliano Modarelli’s electronic score sets the pace from racing to dirge-like and gets the heart pounding right off the start.
Radford performs the role of the alpha male, sometimes in combat, sometimes in comradeship with Tindall. Guevara, a dancer from Mexico, is the spirit of peace and reconciliation, although the women can make like Amazonian vixens if needed.
A repeated motif is the heavy slap of bare feet, a move derived from Kathak dance, that gives the sense of a long journey of hardship and hope.
A wonderful exchange of strength and balance occurs between partners who may be wrestling or embracing. Grabbing, reaching, combining and recombining in units of one and five or two and four or six together, these dancers seem to have it all.
The diversity of the dancers, who are from South Africa, Mexico, Germany and England, is matched by the diversity of the dance forms. There is one sequence that reminds us of a soft-shoe shuffle, another a Maori haka, another a dainty minuet, as the dancers pinch the edges of their skirts as if curtsying. The whispering on the soundtrack is indecipherable and the dancers say nothing. Yet the story is told: it’s not the destination but the journey that matters.
The show goes up again today at 1 pm and 8 pm in the Fleck Dance Theatre.
ACE Dance and Music
Artistic director – Gail Parmel
Choreographer – José Agudo
Dancers – Sophia Preidel, Ciara Baldwin, Christopher Radford, Vanessa Guevara, Thomas Tindall and Iona Waite
Musician – Guiliano Modarelli
Lighting designer – Andrew Ellis
Photo – Christopher Cushman