Fresh-cut performers showcased in York’s Dance Innovations


Spring is ushering in Dance Innovations, a collection of new contemporary works showcasing the outgrowth of years of study by young, fresh-cut performers in York’s dance program, running Wednesday to Saturday, March 24 to 27, at York.

The York Dance Ensemble (YDE), the Department of Dance’s spirited repertory company, directed this year by alumna, educator and independent choreographer Susan Cash (BFA Spec.Hons. ’78), takes to the stage with a body of work that is strong and potent, leavened with a quirky edge of humour.

In a mixed bouquet of colours and textures, Cash has included her own signature work, The Bach Dual, while her colleague, York Professor Holly Small, has set her exquisitely tragic Ophelia. Danny Grossman Dance Company alumnus Randy Glynn and York alumna Andrea Nann (BFA ’88), have remounted works for YDE: the poignant After Godot and energetic, intense Chak! Talented student choreographer Roopa Cheema has contributed her probing solo Can’t Sleep.

Additionally, the YDE dancers and Cash have structured a moving-site-performance work – a “go-anywhere piece” – called Talk. And Dancemakers company member Julia Aplin, a bright new choreographer on the Toronto urban dance scene, premieres a lively, sardonic work titled Chance, Choice, Fate or Destiny, set to original commissioned music by Canadian composer John Gzowski.

One of the pleasures of arranging flowers is the creativity they inspire – as in Carol Anderson’s A Thousand Flowers, which she has reconstructed for Dance Innovations. Anderson directs the third-year repertory class in this work for 23 performers, danced to an evocative score by minimalist composer John Adams.

Anderson (BA ’73) explains, “The choreography is inspired by its young dancers, by the idea of freedom within formality, by swift narratives of storm and light, and by a hope for beauty within the turbulence of our time.”

One of the first graduates of York University’s dance department, Anderson is a nationally-recognized choreographer, performer, dance writer and educator. A founding member of Dancemakers and the Judy Jarvis Dance & Theatre Company, she was a dancer for 20 years, with performance credits including her own choreography as well as works by leading artists such as Conrad Alexandrowicz, Peggy Baker, Christopher House and James Kudelka.

Blossoming under the artistic direction of York Professor and choreographer Darcey Callison, students in York’s upper-level choreography courses are focusing on the many contradictions inherent in contemporary dance as both personal statement and universal metaphor. Guided by their personal explorations in dance composition, these up-and-coming artists have collaborated with each other to create complex works that merge their individual choreographic signatures to create a cohesive dance event.

Callison, director of York’s Graduate Program in Dance, is known for his eclectic fascination with pure dance, theatre, voice and alternative movement practices. Critics have referred to him as a “dance daredevil” and his choreography has been described as “screamingly funny, mesmerizing, penetrating and provocative.” His last work, Revisiting the Sandbox, was hailed by The Globe and Mail as one of Toronto’s 10 best in 2002.

Dance Innovations runs in two series, both playing daily in the Joseph G. Green Studio Theatre, located in York’s Centre for Film and Theatre.

Series A

  • Features the York Dance Ensemble and the third-year repertory class

    • Wednesday and Friday, March 24 & 26, 6pm
    • Thursday and Saturday, March 25 & 27, 8pm 

Series B

  • Showcases choreographic works by advanced students

    • Wedneday and Friday,March 24 & 26, 8pm,
    • Thursday and Saturday, March 25 & 27, 6pm

Admission is $8 (cash only) at the door. For more information, call the Dance Department Hotline at 416-650-8030.

The above article was sent to YFile by the Faculty of Fine Arts.