Cuatro brings together four solo dances

Cuatro brings together four remarkable artists studying in York University’s new Master of Fine Arts Program in Choreography & Dance Dramaturgy to showcase autobiographical dance created at the most personal level: the self-choreographed solo.

Exploring personal geographies, these provocative new works are sourced from the rich terrain of each artist’s life. Choreographers and performers Olga Barrios, Susan Lee, Tracey Norman and Alejandro Ronceria highlight their varied histories while investigating their own desires to transcend the influences of the past. Their individual journeys intersect in Cuatro, Oct. 28 to 30, at 7pm nightly in the McLean Performance Studio, 244 Accolade East Building on York’s Keele campus. General admission is $15.

"This is an exciting time in the program, as our first MFA students prepare for their biographical thesis concert,” said York dance Professor Holly Small, the artistic director of the production. “They are asking poignant questions, challenging themselves and the art form. Coming together in this show, they present a diversified fabric of aesthetics and cultural perspectives, from South America to Halifax, Asia and Toronto. They are urban artists mapping their personal dance."

Barrios’ Behind windows brings dance, theatre, video and music together in an exploration of the dehumanization of violence through acts of war. It is the first piece of the series Sangre (Blood) by this up-and-coming Colombian choreographer.

Barrios studied dance at the Academia Superior de Artes in Bogotá, Colombia. She has worked as a performer, choreographer and dance teacher throughout North and South America. She was a company member of Marc De Garmo and Dancers in New York City,  L’Explose Contemporary Dance in Colombia and The MT Space in Kitchener among others. Her recent credits include her work as a choreographer for Aluna Theatre’s Nohayquiensepa at Toronto’s SummerWorks Theatre Festival.

Lee’s work, Jook-sing, combines projected images and dance to explore issues of identity and the emotional friction the choreographer feels between her Chinese ethnicity and identification with Canadian culture. Fluidly layering images of bamboo groves and birch trees with poetic choreography and haunting music, Jook-sing resonates with complexity and depth as it reveals the process of identity within a multicultural world.

A Dora Award-nominated dancer, Lee has originated roles in more than 50 world premieres by some of Canada’s most acclaimed choreographers. A company member of Kaeja d’Dance since 1997, she has been a featured dancer in their stage works and award-winning dance films. Her recent work includes Oceanids (2008) and Evocation (2009) for the York Dance Ensemble and The Gathering for the Scotia Festival of Music in June 2007.

Norman’s imprinting territories looks at aspects of body-memory. The choreographer/dancer navigates inward, linking landmarks in her body to events in her history, as a cartographer or archeologist might do. Associating memory with geography, she develops a specific movement vocabulary to communicate with the viewer.

Norman’s choreography has been commissioned by many organizations and series, including Dance Ontario, DanceWorks, Canadian Children’s Dance Theatre, York Dance Ensemble,Series 8:08 Season Finalie, Kinetic Studio (Halifax), and Dance Matters. She has interpreted works by Larchaud Dance Project, Leah Archambault, Suzanne Miller, Jesse Dell and others.

Ronceria’s dance, titled My Hundred Years of Solitude, addresses his parents’ forced migration from their rural lands in Colombia. Though it happened 90 years ago, it is part of a process that continues today for victims of political violence in rural areas around the world. Exploring concepts of history, identity and the relationship between land and people, the work is inspired by stories of hardship, tenacity, survival and, possibly, transformation.

Ronceria is a Colombian-born choreographer, director and film artist now based in Toronto. An influential figure in indigenous dance, he was the first director of the Aboriginal Dance Program at the Banff Centre for the Arts. In 2004 he was nominated for a Dora Award for The Artshow by Native Earth. His film, A Hunter Called Memory, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2003 and went on to such prestigious festivals as Sundance and the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival in France.

Cuatro is the first of three MFA in Dance thesis concerts being presented this season. The next performance takes place Jan. 27 to 29, 2010 in York’s Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan Theatre, to be followed by a series of independent self-produced projects in Spring 2010.

The Faculty of Fine Arts launched the MFA in Dance program last year, 2008, complementing the department’s master of arts program in dance history, ethnology and criticism. The MFA program provides graduate students with the opportunity to conduct studio-based research in contemporary choreography and dance dramaturgy, developing their directorial and dramaturgical roles in the creative process and production of theatrical choreography. The research is developed within the context of contemporary dance and its many manifestations as both personal statement and universal metaphor, incorporating political, social, cultural and personal consequences intrinsic to issues in the art form.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the York University Box Office Web site, or call 416-736-5888.