‘Harvest’ reaps a cornucopia of delicious new dance

York University’s Department of Dance showcases a bounty of works grown from the seeds of creativity sown this season with Dance Innovations: Harvest, running Dec. 2 to 4. York’s rising young artists are featured in a rich array of world premieres, with two different programs served up nightly at 7 and 8:30pm in the McLean Performance Studio, 244 Accolade East Building.

The show is directed by independent dance artists and York faculty members Julia Sasso and Terrill Maguire, with lighting design supervision and production management by dance Professor William Mackwood.

Maguire contributes a veritable cornucopia of creativitywith a large-scale work choreographed for the repertory class. Her new piece, We All Dance On, explores rhythm, dynamics, juxtapositions and the impulse to move and express through the body.

Under Sasso’s direction, 20 young maverick choreographers come to the harvest table with a full dance menu of tasty appetizers, main courses and desserts.

Community has been at the heart of harvest celebrations such as Thanksgiving and similar traditions from earliest times, and it’s central to many of the works in the program. Stephanie Papaioannou’s Uphold explores the concepts of dependence, support and individuality. Krista Antonio’s Mermaid Hill tells the story of her community of capoeira circles and samba festivals in the favelas of Brazil. Samantha Schleese has created a work about how obvious it can be that people need each other. The Human Race by Deanna Paolantonio questions whether this race we are running is really a race at all.

Relationships are the foundation of all communities, and four choreographers extend the theme with dances that savour various aspects of human and animal interaction. How Convenient is an intense duet by Marieve Aube that explores the inability to be in two different places at once. Rachel Martin’s When I Say Jump, You Say…? is about the struggle to define a relationship while pursuing individual growth. Kelly Sullivan investigates the disparity and fluidity of one’s internal equilibrium, using the contrast between synergy and chaos in A Perfect Imbalance. Ashley Thomas’ Grounded Elevation contrasts the behaviours of monkeys and birds.

Harvest is a time of plenty, and creative energy and inspiration are also in abundance. Works Cited is a duet for two women by Amelia Ehrhardt that investigates the process and power of influence. Cristina Yuen shares her revelations about dreaming and the infinite possibilities it presents. Alexandra Van Daele’s trio of movers negotiate a world that has never known sight, finding trust and comfort in their darkness. In her piece look to the sky, Hannah Walter explores the obsession of wanting to fly.

Reminiscence, another aspect of the harvest theme, underlies the works of choreographers Melissa Hart and Anne Goad. Hart’s Remember uncovers the power of photographs and how they can summon multiple memories. Goad explores the impacts of dementia and how it affects personal relationships.

For some who come to the harvest table, the glass is half empty. Lowbrow, by Irvin Chow, explores both the vulnerable and comedic aspects of succumbing to our guilty pleasures. In The Dark Side, Melissa Ladas investigates the idea that evil exists within each one of us and it is a personal choice whether or not we act on it. Mellisa Kwok’s Possession is based on fears and nightmares taking over reality. Jennifer Jeffries’ dance explores life’s struggles and how they can leave a person feeling abandoned.

General admission to each program of Dance Innovations: Harvest is $20, and $10 for students and seniors. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Fine Arts Box Office website or call 416-736-5888.