Dance Innovations showcases York’s rising talent

Dance Innovations, the Department of Dance’s season finale, is a two-part program featuring 11 world premieres.

The show, which is directed by acclaimed indie dance artists and York Professors Holly Small and Darcey Callison, starts tonight and continues until March 27 in the McLean Performance Studio, 244 Accolade East Building, Keele campus.

Program A, beginning at 7pm, features the debut of Down the Road, an exuberant escapade conceived by Callison and devised in collaboration with the 23 dancers in the third-year repertory class.

Left: Darcey Callison

The inspiration and physicality for Down the Road were gleaned from the imaginary rabbit holes and yellow-brick roads we follow as we endeavour to find our path through life. Emulating the late, great American choreographer Merce Cunningham’s use of chance procedures to create dance and his assertion that movement speaks for and about itself, the work pays homage to Cunningham’s belief that there are many paths, and that they are all interesting.

The performance is set to a mix of music from the films Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and Mary Poppins, plus works by the iconoclastic American composer Meredith Monk. It features costumes designed and constructed by Canadian clothing designer Barbara Starr.

Program B, directed by Small and beginning at 8:30pm, showcases original dances investigating the human condition, created by the Dance Department’s up-and-coming fourth-year choreographers. The springboard of inspiration for their work ranges from friendship and identity to exploration and evolution.

Right: Holly Small

Set to original music by Lee Frankis, Vanessa Quesnel‘s piece looks at how relationships among friends change when one of them experiences a tragedy. In Heather Ami Cook’s Vox Populi, three friends explore the sometimes weird news of the world and how everyone has an opinion.

Katie Rogers’ quartet Vacant Bodies explores women’s loss of identity as a result of conformity to stereotypes. Two steps away, a duet choreographed by Heather Farquhar, explores the loss of control and helplessness that results when our minds dictate our lives entirely.

Hannah Walter reimagines the metamorphosis from monkey to man in Evolution, her ambitious work for seven dancers set to the haunting music of Arvo Pärt. Choreographer Jennifer Lee explores the deep and infinite connection to home, investigating the desire for the safety and familiarity of the old and the excitement and drive of the new.

Yasmin Moharrer‘s duet is based on the passage of life, taking a journey through unknown space, while Rachel Turbett, working closely with no-wave surf band Les Heures, explores movement in colour-invaded space in her dance. New works by Paul Morgan and Maggie Koabel round out the program.

Lighting design supervision and production management for the show is by dance Professor William Mackwood.

Tickets to Dance Innovations are $15 and are available through the York University Box Office or by calling 416-736-5888.