Dance Current Magazine

Is Toronto Ready for Hip Hop Theatre?

What happens when you ask a group of street dancers to dance like peanut butter? While Victoria “VicVersa” Mackenzie shouts “smooth or crunchy?”, Lee “Lethal” Pham lays down and starts munching on the most amazing imaginary sandwich he has eaten in his life. The rest of the cast surround him, all creating their own incredibly physical and peanut butter-inspired movement. The group creates childlike fun onstage, inviting the audience to join in on this journey of defining hip hop theatre. Open A

Canada’s Past and Present at Jacob’s Pillow

Apart from trying my hardest not to end my sentences with “eh” or being teased gently for saying “washroom” instead of “bathroom,” I have had an amazing time interning at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival in the beautiful Berkshire Hills in Becket, Mass. I am in residence at the festival for the full ten weeks, and work as one of two archives and engagement interns. Being the only Canadian intern here this summer, and working in the extensive archives at the Pillow, I feel it is my duty to report on

The Future of Dance’s Past

Photographs, diaries, letters, programs, touring itineraries and a ton of fantastic memorabilia, amounting to more than 50,000 items’ worth of American Ballet Theatre history, were recently donated to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Until then, the company, entering its seventy-fifth season, lacked the proper means of conservation. Administrators at American Ballet Theatre had been considering how to conserve the valuable documents that outline the company’s history for a number of

Madness Ensues at the Ballet

According to many, Vaslav Nijinsky was the greatest male dancer of the twentieth century. Maybe even the best to ever live. Despite the tragic end of his career (due to schizophrenia) at the early age of twenty-nine, the mad genius dancer and choreographer led a passionate life full of sex, love and dance, which is showcased brilliantly in John Neumeier’s ballet Nijinsky. Performed by The National Ballet of Canada at the Four Seasons Centre from November 22-30, the ballet provides a glimpse into

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland Review

But Who Is Jack? With 146 bodies involved both on- and offstage in The National Ballet of Canada’s (NBoC) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the production is certainly quite magnificent in size and creation. Running from March 14 to 29, it is full of striking costumes, lively sets, humourous props and entrancing projections, yet I couldn’t help but feel that there were one too many performers on stage. Choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon in 2011 as a co-production of the NBoC and The Royal B

Genée International Ballet Competition

The Genée International Ballet Competition, one of the world’s most prestigious ballet competitions, will return home to London this year from September 16-19, 2015. First held in 1931, the competition invites talented young dancers trained in the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) syllabus from around the world to compete. This year, in an effort to increase opportunities for competitors, the RAD has introduced the Darcey Bussell Genée Bursaries to help competitors across the world in need of financi

Happily Ever After

The National Ballet of Canada’s The Sleeping Beauty The Sleeping Beauty has been performed by The National Ballet of Canada in 1972, 1987, 2006 and excitingly now in 2015. Having been performed over so many years, the ballet still has potential to capture the imaginations of audiences of all ages. Inspired by the tale La Belle au Bois Dormant, written by Charles Perrault in 1679, Tchaikovsky created his longest ballet score, The Sleeping Beauty, in 1889. A year later, the first ballet producti

The Red Wall: How Social Media is Changing Commercial Dance in Canada

Excerpt from January/ February 2019 Issue of The Dance Current Magazine: There is a certain magic to the last ten minutes of a dance class. The choreography has been taught and embodied. The stress of learning more choreography is finally removed. The adrenaline of the dancer is pumping, as they are ready to perform and give everything they have for the final minutes of class. Class videos capture these last few minutes, embodying this energy and captivating new viewers to join in on this thrill.

Mooney on Theatre Reviews

2019 Progress Review: Blood on the Dance Floor (ILBIJERRI Theatre Company)

A tragicomedy mixed with a hopeful love story – Blood on the Dance Floor presented at the Progress Festival is an emotional mix of theatre, dance and storytelling. The one-man show is performed by Australian Jacob Boehm of ILBIJERRI Theatre Company. Boehm connects his identities–gay, Black and HIV positive–through a motif of blood, which defines his fears and generates discrimination against him. The work is curated by The Theatre Centre and Native Earth Performance Arts.

Review: SKOW (Citadel + Compagnie)

SKOW, an acronym for ‘some kind of wonder,’ is a full-length solo work performed by Johanna Bergfelt. Presented by Citadel + Compagnie, SKOW follows Bergfelt’s life and things that inspire a sense of wonder in her, as both a noun and a verb. A highly respected and established dancer and teacher, Bergfelt is paired with equally as high-profile choreographer William Yong of Zata Omm Dance Projects. As a fan of both artists, I jumped at a chance to see the work. Walking into the theatre, you are g

Review: This Shape, We Are In and Slow Dance (Toronto Dance Theatre)

Toronto Dance Theatre presents an experimental double bill at the Winchester Street Theatre. Marie Lambin-Gagnon’s Slow Dance begins the night with a conversation between dancers and objects in an otherworldly environment. Followed by a reimagined This Shape, We Are In, choreographed by New York’s Jeanine Durning. Gold, glitter, tulle and a vast amount of colourful fabric transform the Toronto Dance Theatre studio into an alternate world. Dancers remain in stillness for an extended period, cove

Review: Kiviuq Returns: An Inuit Epic (The Qaggiq Collective)

Performed entirely in Inuktitut – Kiviuq Returns: An Inuit Epic by The Qaggiq Collective is a unique and important experience for Canadian audiences. Presented at Tarragon Theatre, the performance follows Kiviuq, the eternal wanderer and legendary hero of Inuit stories through five different narratives. The company uses shapeshifting creatures, throat singing and drumming to take you on a magical journey across the Arctic. Before the performance, I received multiple emails inviting me to read t

2019 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: Anatomy of a Dancer (Breakaway Entertainment)

Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly? A question I and many other dance enthusiasts have been plagued with all our lives! Although they state you do not have to choose, Breakaway Entertainment makes a strong case for Kelly. Anatomy of A Dancer: The Life Of A Song & Dance Man presented at the Next Stage Theatre Festival pays homage to Kelly, one of America’s most influential performers. Chronicling his life from Pittsburgh to Hollywood, his romances, famous performances and many of his contributions to the

Review: The Nutcracker (Toronto International Ballet Theatre)

The magic of the Tchaikovsky score paired with gorgeous ballet dancers never fails to spark the Christmas spirit inside of me. Toronto International Ballet Theatre performs the classic story of The Nutcracker with its typical grandiosity, bringing smiles to mine and many faces of all ages in the audience. The performance retains many Nutcracker traditions, however features a few unique artistic touches. The performance begins with a sad sigh from the audience as an announcement is made that t

Review: A Christmas Carol (Three Ships Collective)

What would Christmas be without A Christmas Carol? With multiple renditions happening around the city every year, The Three Ships Collective with the support of Soup Can Theatre, present a site-specific adaptation of the Charles Dickens’ classic novel. Taking place at the historic Cambell House, the audience follows the Victorian-era penny-pincher, Ebenezer Scrooge, room to room as you watch his story of self-redemption courtesy of apparitions of Christmas past, present and future. Built in 182

Review: A Very Leila Christmas (Theatre Passe Muraille)

Through a Persian princess’s eyes, Christmas begins when the Starbuck’s cups turn red, sugar walking sticks are sold, and the arguing begins about when it’s appropriate to play the music with the bells in it. A Very Leila Christmas, presented by Theatre Passe Muraille and A Bad Girl Leila, is the best way to get into the REAL Christmas spirit. An immigrant to Canada, Leila has an exciting job at a Rogers call centre during the holiday season. As she begins to learn about Christmas, she offers t

Review: Asheq: Ritual Music to Cure a Lover (Onelight Theatre)

Persian mythology is brought into modern day storytelling in Asheq: Ritual Music to Cure a Lover. The fully immersive multi-media work is created with boundless cloth and a single performer who takes on multiple roles at Harbourfront Centre Theatre. Created by Shahin Sayadi of Onelight Theatre, the performance explores the struggles of tradition within a small community. In a small fishing village on the Persian Gulf, Farhad loses the love of his life to childbirth, resulting in a lifetime h

Review: Grand Finale (Hofesh Shechter)

Internationally celebrated choreographer Hofesh Shechter returns to Toronto with a smoke-filled stage and a chaotic world in freefall in Grand Finale at the Bluma Appel Theatre. Grand Finale does not mark his final work, but presents a dreary yet beautiful apocalyptic world. In this world, dancers are not distressed in a typical end-of-the-world fashion; rather they blankly move through a chaotic realm. Their movements are loose-limbed as they shuffle and shudder around the stage with supple

Review: Older & Reckless #41 (MOonhORsE Dance Theatre)

Older and Reckless #41 presented at Harbourfront’s Studio Theatre has everything you need, from laughs and love, to downright creepy and dark. The six work bill, curated by Claudia Moore, hosted by Tabby Johnson, is performed by some of the most celebrated older artists – as the company states, made more reckless as time goes by. The performance starts with a group warm-up, bringing the community together in the space (or lack thereof to move your arms – but all is part of the fun). Next, MoW!

Review: The Pigeon (Alumnae Theatre)

The Pigeon, presented in the Fireworks Festival at Alumnae Theatre, is a new, exciting and daring play for mature audiences. With beautiful relationships between contrasting characters, and a plot for revenge – this play will take you on a rollercoaster ride from start to finish. Written by Chloë Whitehorn, The Pigeon follows a distressed millennial – Jegger (John Shubat), who befriends an older woman, Malone (Liz Best). Joined by a mutual hatred for Jegger’s mother, they are drawn together in

Review: Figaro 2.0 (ProArteDanza)

ProArteDanza beautifully re-imagines ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ (Le Nozze Di Figaro) in Figaro 2.0 at the Fleck Dance Theatre. Taking on the large task of a three-hour opera, award-winning co-choreographers, Roberto Campanella and Robert Glumbek create a gorgeous and witty ninety-minute contemporary dance work. Figaro 2.0 is based on the comic opera, composed by Mozart in 1786. The story has many twists and turns following misunderstandings, manipulations and infidelities. I highly recommend read

Review: Saucy Jack and The Space Vixens (Small but Mighty Productions)

Glitter boots, murder and a whole lot of disco made my night as I watched the raunchy and outrageous musical Saucy Jack and The Space Vixens at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. What a fun night out with a talented cast! How can you go wrong with numbers like “All I Need is Disco,” “Glitter Boots Saved My Life” and “Fetish Number Out of Nowhere.” The musical is campy and full of glitz and glamour as the cast interacts with the audience as if they are patrons of the futuristic club – Saucy Jacks.

Review: Exhale (Sore for Punching You)

Allison Cummings’ Exhale presented at DanceMakers Centre for Creation shows the beautiful complexities of communication through breath – reminding us of its vital and universal nature, the rhythm that it holds and the intense emotional effects it presents to others. The beautiful sound design by Dora Award winner, Lyon Smith, brings in the audience before the show begins. The required silence of the audience, generally communicated by the universal sign of dimming the lights is forgotten, the e

Dance Publications

Masters Work

The Rize of Krump in Canadian Dance

This major research paper follows a three-month ethnographic study of Canada’s krump dance communities in Montreal, Toronto, and Calgary. Krump is an aggressive hip-hop dance style, created in South Central, Los Angeles in the early 2000s. I trace the growth of krump across Canada following the release of the documentary film Rize (2005). I argue Canadian krumpers are currently trying to build a national identity, distinct from the United States, in order to gain respect from the international krump community. Despite this shared overall goal, each Canadian community differs greatly, owing to their diverging histories and interpretations of krump culture as conceptualized by co-creator Ceasare “Tight Eyez” Willis.

Roland and Romaine - Then and Now

In​ ​1951,​ ​Betty​ ​Romaine​ ​Nicholson​ ​was​ ​the​ ​first​ ​North​ ​American​ ​woman​ ​to​ ​win​ ​a​ ​gold medal​ ​in​ ​an​ ​international​ ​ballroom​ ​competition.​ ​She​ ​went​ ​on​ ​to​ ​teach​ ​at​ ​Toronto's​ ​Arthur Murray's​ ​dance​ ​school​ ​where​ ​she​ ​met​ ​Roland​ ​Kirouac.​ ​Together,​ ​they​ ​created​ ​a​ ​legacy across​ ​Canada​ ​and​ ​toured​ ​internationally​ ​with​ ​both​ ​ballroom​ ​dance​ ​and​ ​commercial​ ​jazz choreography​ ​featured​ ​on​ ​television,​ ​films​ ​and​ ​large​ ​live​ ​performances,​ ​such​ ​as​ ​the​ ​Canadian musical​ ​Television​ ​show,​ ​​The​ ​Pig​ ​and​ ​Whistle​.​ ​In​ ​Toronto​ ​in​ ​1960,​ ​they​ ​opened​ ​up​ ​their​ ​first dance​ ​studio...

The Dungeon Sessions: An Ethnographic Look at Krump in Toronto

It’s the national basketball league’s 2015 final between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. The game is tied at the end of the fourth period. As the game goes into overtime, the crowd is captivated and on the edge of their seats. The players are full of adrenalin, ready to try their hardest to take the win. Five minutes later… the final buzzer rings! It is the end of the game, taken by a close two points by the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron James, Cleveland’s all-time leading scorer and multi-year MVP, screams! He whips the ball to the ground with all of his might. He throws all of his energy through his arms, into his fists, across face and down into his feet.

The multiple legitimacies of Tentacle Tribe, a dance company

According to Hugues Bazin (2002), hip hop dancers working in theatrical settings have a "double legitimacy" as they gain acceptance in two contexts with different expectations, criteria and values. In this case study, we researched how an emerging dance company negotiates artistic identities in the entertainment, street dance and theatrical art worlds, finding acceptance across competing discourses. Tentacle Tribe, a dance company comprised of Emmanuelle Lê Phan and Elon Höglund...