The dancers who perform in ProArteDanza’s Season 2017 are at least a generation younger than the dancers who first brought the company to the stage in 2004. All the better to extend founder Roberto Campanella’s dedication to “passion in performance.”
Combined with a high standard of technical ability and an urge to advance contemporary choreography, this passion has served to keep audiences coming back year after year. The ensemble for Season 2017 is made up of a characteristically energetic team: Taylor Bojanowski (intern), Caryn Chappell, Benjamin Landsberg, Ryan Lee, Sasha Ludavicius, Daniel McArthur, Victoria Mehaffey, Kelly Shaw, Anisa Tejpar and Christopher Valentini.
“Future Perfect Continuous”, created by Matjash Mrozewski, takes ProArteDanza in a new direction, demanding acting skills of the ensemble. Wisely, Mrozewski chose versatile playwright Anna Chatterton to write the text for a piece that expresses something top of mind: what will happen to us, to our world, as climate change takes its toll?
Two dancers casually occupy the stage before the lights go down; Anisa Tejpar is brooding, seemingly lost in thought. Daniel MacArthur holds a helium-filled yellow balloon, a symbolic beacon of hope.
The lines delivered by eight performers are in fact in the future perfect continuous tense: “in 10 years, I will have been . . . ” These unfinished sentences announced in first-, second-, and third-person declensions set the tone of uncertainty that is the zone of “Future Perfect Continuous.”
The eight performers develop into characters in a flow–sometimes jumpy, sometimes smooth–of solos, duets, trios and ensemble combinations. McArthur and Mehaffey are a couple in debate: are we doomed or is there a future for the human race? The choreography is simple, but not simplistic. From stillness to sudden movements, a sense of chaos on the edge of momentary stillness presides, over the music, Orchestra Variations, Minor Victories. Posing the question, are you an optimist, a pessimist or realist, the piece ends on an up-note, the yellow balloon hovering over the proclamation, “we are going to be ok.”
The muscular movement that has been a hallmark of ProArteDanza is on show in the duet “Adjusted Surrender” choreographed by Kevin O’Day for Johanna Bergfelt and Robert Glumbek to music by Sigur Rós and Chopin Project. Glumbek wears cowboy hats stacked on his head and lays them out to form a performance space on stage, as Bergfelt enters encased in a dress made of layers and layers of stiff, white chiffon-like fabric. These two athletic, precise dancers are well matched. Glumbek undoes Bergfelt’s dress and lays it out like a broken mountain range across the stage. Shorn of their identifying accoutrements they make a dynamic couple in jeans and t-shirts, lifting, rolling, pushing and pulling in a space of trust and balance.
O’Day also choreographed the show’s celebratory closer, the rollicking “Op Sha!”, set to the music of The Lemon Bucket Orkestra, accurately described as a “Balkan-Klezmer-Gypsy-Party-Punk-Super-Band.” Here the ensemble displays a well rehearsed togetherness. Each dancer’s personality comes through in whatever they are doing, sometimes something silly. The dancing is fierce and jumped-up and when the moment calls for it, the company masses into one formation, breathing as if a community was one many-splendored creature.
Choreography by Matjash Mrozewski and Kevin O’Day
Through Saturday, November 4 at Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre, Toronto
Photo of Anisa Tejpar in Op Sha! by Aleksandar Antonijevic