From Toronto, ProArteDanza presented their 2012 season this first week of October. The ulterior to Roberto Campanella and Robert Glumbek’s choreography, respectively the artistic director and artistic associate of ProArteDanza, is human relationships. The fragile, unspoken moments between people they make visible through the fleetest of movements—it looks like a transfer of energy from one dancer to another. The ideas are light, serving more like jumping off points for the work, a set-up to run with it, or run away from as fast and fluidly as possible. This method works beautifully for the two, a kind of a balance of construct and deconstruct, whose talent for creating dance that dancers absorb with every muscle brings everything back together with such style and flow. This was the case particularly with “Expire”, making its premiere this season.
“Expire” was jacketed in a superfluous multimedia bit—a segment of film and a dancer forming part of the screen who waved her arms about while the other seven dancers proceeded solemnly across the floor—after which there was a brief, heavy-handed segment that reminded me of the time I hyperventilated at school, with brown paper bags that littered the stage for the rest of the performance. The dancers wore costumes of grey and mottled blue, which, for me at least, are the colours of breath, smoke and oxygen. This was a more than sufficient thread to connect the movements that trickle into a series of devilish, delightful games. They sweep each other up like leaves with an autumn coloured sheet; they tangle up in a witty pun on the pas de trois landing in a funny sketch of domesticity. It was all in the sweep of the flow of rapid, classically-hinged-or un-hinged-steps, artfully put together.
The program consisted of two pas de deux, and two works for the company of eight. The opening pas de deux had an elegance reflected in the name, “Decorum”, in the undulation of dancer Kristen Dennis’s legs and feet, Tyler Gledhill’s refined partnering, and in the darting in-between steps and sweep of the large poses alike. This piece might have turned out to be more facile than the program note suggests; it was really just a beautiful pas de deux (which is already imbued with sufficient narrative weight) showing the gorgeous, chic choreography of Roberto Campanella. The music used by ProArteDanza makes a statement, and perhaps none more so than Handel’s evocative ‘Lascia Ch’io Pianga’ used to irreverent effect by Kevin O’Day in his slightly mystifying work, “We will. . .”. Danced by Robert Glumbek and Mami Hata, strong performances anchored this piece of no convention. The peculiar, uneven tone confuses, half joking, half serious, in both form and choreography. O’Day’s bewildering play with expectation ultimately provokes the elements beyond our control, in relationships, as in life.
Pleasingly, music is at the heart of ProArteDanza. The piece taking the title “Beethoven’s 9th – 1st Movement” from the composition is a comment, an homage as ProArteDanza suggests, conceived in rousing style. Louis Laberge-Côté emphasised the momentous opening bars with a burst of energy, jumping up—imagine a person trying to remove a suit by only leaping in the air, it looked briefly like something wild, defiant brought to an order. He was distinct in black suiting, while the other dancers wore black and semi-sheer modish blues, Prussian and lapis. Of the altogether impressive dancers several stand out: Brendan Wyatt, dancing with virtuoso speed and precision, Louis Laberge-Côté , supple and singularly magnetic, and Anne Poole, who possesses a beautiful line. While the Beethoven was the least realised of the works presented, it was a thrill to see dancers of this calibre being put through their paces, and that the challenges were musical, conceptual and technical / physical made it all the more satisfying. At present ProArteDanza performs only one season a year—a mere glimpse—over four evenings, which is about three seasons too few for this vibrant, accomplished company. -PCF
Photo credits: ProArteDanza dancers in “Expire.” Photos by Genevieve Caron.