Rivers features original dance works centred around water

York Dances: Rivers features a torrent of talent in fresh new choreography by third-year dance majors at York University. The show runs Nov. 26 to 28 in the Accolade East Building’s McLean Performance Studio, with two different programs of original works presented nightly at 7 and 8:30pm.

Acclaimed independent dance artist, scholar and York Professor Carol Anderson serves as artistic director for the show, with dance Professor William Mackwood acting as production manager.

Right: Carol Anderson

The title and theme of Rivers evokes the motion, force and constant change of water, with a natural connection to ecological concerns. Rivers and maps can be compared with dances and scores, sharing the element of static representations of dynamic and fluid negotiations through space.

"Rivers embodies the flow of creativity for these emerging choreographers and performers," says Anderson. "Their own creative currents combine with the tributaries of all the knowledge and movement vocabulary they’ve acquired during their studies with us. This show is where it all comes together, like a massive delta."

Left: William Mackwood

A multitude of riverine elements are flooding York’s dance studios in preparation for the production.

Some of the participating student choreographers have taken the inspiration of rivers and water very literally. Sarah Kessel’s trio is the swirling expression of a whirlpool. In Emma Letki’s Babbling Brook, five dancers explore the rhythms and vitality that pulse through the smallest river. Samantha Schleese took inspiration for her quartet from the Moldau, a river in the Czech Republic, and Bedrich Smetana’s titular suite of symphonic poems. Cristina Yuen’s Endless is about the never-ending, unpredictable journey a river takes, and Alexandra VanDaele’s duet is crafted from reflection, capturing a calm look into a single soul.

The dances devised by Melissa Hart and Melissa Ladas consider a world where the rivers run dry. Hart’s Dessicate looks at the impact of the dramatic change from water’s abundance to its absence, and the consequences of dehydration. Lada’s quintet, Hydrate, is a representation of the suffering caused by long periods of drought.

Other choreographers have developed the river theme as a metaphor or centrepiece in a study of human relationships. When the river runs dry… by Krista Antonio is about three street kids who are fighting to make something of themselves from the little they have been given. Kelly Gammie’s work tells the story of a girl who wants to end her life by drowning herself in the river. Jennifer Jeffries’ duet portrays a river and a leaf, representing a friendship in flux. Rachel Martin’s quartet, rush, evokes the build-up of waves and their symbolic connection to overwhelming emotion.

Four of the new works flow into the past. Remind, a trio choreographed by Mariève Aubé, calls up important moments in life that may go unrecognized and unremembered. Deanna Paolantonio’s trio Reis Van de Sterren (Journey Among the Stars) takes inspiration from the famous children’s poem "Wynken, Blynken and Nod". Likewise inspired by childhood stories, Robyn Breen’s quartet Clude Sound explores text without speech. Ashley Thomas’s School’s Out, a kaleidoscope of detailed patterning and quick movement, offers a witty look back at student life.

Anne Goad and Stéfanie Théroux’s dances regard things of, and about, beauty. Goad explores women’s inner battles with confidence in a society fixated on perfection, while Théroux’s quintet Beautiful Mess was inspired by the idea of taking time to find beauty in the chaos of the world.

The theme flows to a primal place for two choreographers. Mellisa Kwok’s RAW explores the predator-and-prey relationship, while Kasey Farmer’s quintet Path of the Feather, set to traditional drumming, is a highly kinetic imagining of the journeys of First Nations people.

Rivers invites you to get swept up into the creative current of these young dance artists. Admission is $15 for each program. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Fine Arts Box Office Web site or call 416-736-5888.