York stages fresh works by some of Canada’s leading artists

York dance Professor Darcey Callison and friends are presenting a brilliant palette of choreographic works in this year’s Dance Independent Project, running Nov. 8 to 10 at York University. The program offers fresh works by some of Canada’s leading independent dance artists.

The evening opens with Night Vision – Nyx by York dance professor and award-winning indie choreographer Holly Small. Inspired by the mythological goddess Nyx (Night), the work integrates dance, music and video to evoke the beauty and dark mystery of night. The dance traces a choreographic journey from nightfall through moon rise, into the late, dark-and-desperate hours, and on towards dawn. Personifying these different aspects are dancers Susan Lee, Rebecca Mendoza, Barbara Pallomina and Keiko Kitano, all consummate performers who are well-tuned to their deep creative impulses.

Left: Dancer Keiko Kitano who is one of the featured dancers in Holly Small’s piece, titled Night Vision – Nyx

“Investigating the essence of the goddess Nyx, my choreography works with images of the night sky, the forms of stars and constellations, as well as imagery gleaned from the performers relating to their own experiences of night and sleep and dreams,” explained Small.

The creative team for Small’s production includes interactive media artist and York cultural studies Professor Don Sinclair, who assisted with the set design – a slowly morphing video of the dancers projected on floating panels of silk, evoking the goddess hovering in the night sky. The delicate, precise and stark music of composer John Oswald employs a mélange of instruments, including a gong, metallic chimes and three wooden xylophones. Lindy Pole designed the costumes.

Known for her kinetically detailed, highly personal works, Small’s interdisciplinary perspective encompasses dance, music, theatre and new media. Her recent projects include a dramatic solo for Azerbaijani dancer and York dance instructor Sashar Zarif, co-winner with Small of the 2006 Paula Citron Award; a chamber work for gamelan and dance created for the York Dance Ensemble; and a site-specific, interactive video and dance collaboration with Sinclair.

The Dance Independent Project also features the powerful, risk-taking and fiercely contemporary Chimera Project, one of the leading ensembles on the dance scene today. The group will perform an excerpt from Malgorzata Nowacka’s Keep all Sharp Objects out of my Way.

Right: Two dancers from the dance ensemble Chimera Project

The name of the company draws on the idea of a chimera: an imaginary monster compounded of incongruous parts, or an illusion or fabrication of the mind – especially an unrealizable dream. With each new undertaking The Chimera Project strives to bring such fabrications and “unrealizable dreams” into a reality that reverberates with and inspires the audience.

Hailed by The Globe and Mail as “one of the most original choreographers currently working in Toronto, possibly in the country”, Nowacka is well-known for her intricate partnering and bold, energetic movements brimming with speed, edge and unpredictability.

Also taking the stage is the Mi Young Kim Dance Company, performing Hwang Jin Yee by Mi Young Kim. Hwang Jin Yee is a legendary figure, a beautiful geisha/poetess/singer/artist who lived during the Chosun Dynasty period in Pyongyang, Korea. The dance tells the story of the tragic love between Hwang Jin Yee and a fictitious man.

Left: Dancers from the Mi Young Kim Dance Company in performance

The founder of the Korean Dance Studies Society of Canada, Kim has established herself as one of the leading figures on the Korean-Canadian cultural scene, excelling as a dancer, choreographer and teacher. Anchored in the dance traditions of Korea, her choreography is a unique blend of traditional and contemporary dance trends. She has won numerous awards in dance competitions in Korea and has performed extensively throughout Asia, Europe and North America.

Rounding out the program is the York Dance Ensemble, the spirited repertory company of York University’s Dance Department. Directed by Susan Cash, the ensemble comprises up-and-coming young performers Robyn Alfonso, Heather Ball, Samantha Clowes, Laura Day, Diana DePalo, Jennifer Ellis, Ncole Leone, Ivana Matovina, Kate Nankervis, Jacqueline Ricci, Tatsunori Senna, Jennifer Templeton and Shirin Yousefi. They will present three short works: Small’s Duet and two ensemble pieces: Garden, choreographed by Cash, and Wait by Zarif.

Callison, the artistic coordinator of the Dance Independent Project, has presented his works across Canada and in Mexico. A member of the Toronto Independent Dance Enterprise for many seasons, he formed his own company, Da Collision, in 1990, and has created many works for the ensemble. Other credits include choreography for the CanStage production of Ratbag, which was nominated for nine Dora Mavor Moore Awards, and for Scott McLeod’s film 26 Rules.

The Dance Independent Project runs three evenings, Nov. 8 to 10, at 8pm in the Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan Theatre, located in the Accolade East Building on York’s Keele campus. Admission is $14. Tickets are available through the Fine Arts Box Office Web site or by calling ext. 55888.

This article was submitted to YFile by Mary-Lou Schagena in the Faculty of Fine Arts.