Graduate dance students premiere ‘Stories Off the Record’

Stories Off the Record is this season’s second instalment of world premieres by rising choreographers in York University’s MFA Program in Dance.

Graduate students Angela Blumberg, Alison Daley, Katya Kuznetsova and Anastasia Maywood are each contributing an original work to the playbill as part of their thesis productions. A new duet by guest artist and alumna Tracey Norman, who graduated last year in first cohort of MFA dance students, rounds out the program, which runs Feb. 16 to 18 at 7:30pm in the Sandra Faire & Ivan Fecan Theatre at York’s Keele campus.

Choreagrapher Collage
Above: From left, dance artists Angela Blumberg, Alison Daley, Katya Kuznetsova and Anastasia Maywood

Stories “off the record” are told in confidence. Investigative journalism often relies on off-the-record sources to get to the heart of a story. Evoking the spirit of these clandestine encounters, this production speaks heart to heart as the choreographers investigate moving ideas with performers from York’s undergraduate dance program, recent grads and more.

“Watching these dancesmiths evolve with their distinctive choreographic perspectives, I’m convinced that dance is one of the more meaningful paths to understanding the spaces and time we inhabit together,” says Graduate Program Director Darcey Callison, who serves as artistic director for the production.

Blumberg’s duet Unregistered Visitors is danced by York alumna Brittany-Brie D’Amico (BFA Spec. Hons. ‘10) and Kyra Jean Green, a graduate of New York’s Juilliard School. The choreography fuses urban reality and fiction, presenting an autumn fairytale in which the surface of actuality is scratched to reveal two mysterious visitors beneath. The piece is set to live music performed by live percussion.

Daley’s and Kuznetsova’s works are performed by members of the York Dance Ensemble, the department’s pre-professional repertory company directed by Faculty of Fine Arts Professor Susan Cash.

Daley’s septet Ridiculous Emotions tackles pre-teen angst. “When we’re 13, our bodies are much too small to contain the enormity of our reactions and emotions,” Daley said. Her seven dancers are Mariève Aubé, Irvin Crow, Tracy Day, Rachel Martin, Stefanie Theroux, Alex VanDaele and Hannah Walter.

Her Illustrious Highness, choreographed by Kuznetsova, explores the specific physicality of moving in high heels. Re-interpreting fragments of movement vocabularies from ballroom dances such as the foxtrot and Argentine tango, this bold new work illuminates the states of bodies in these delicate acts of balance. It features dancers Meghann Bronson, Stéphanie Charette, Patty Kallidi, Erin Man, Susie Saya, Brittany Turner, Megan Windeler and Michelle Zetts.

Left: An image from Her Illustrious Highness

Expect the unexpected in Angles of Departure, Maywood’s piece for six dancers chosen from all levels of the undergraduate program, from first to fourth year. Using the written work of renowned theatre pedagogue Jacques Lecoq as a starting point, Maywood playfully twists the audience’s expectations in both physical and visual ways. Her dance is performed by HaleyRae Christian Cannell, Nadege Blackhall, Becky McGuire, Hannah Greyson-Gaito, Kendra Guimond and Conrad Racicot.

Norman’s duet hereis performed by two other alumni from York’s dance program, Jesse Dell (BFA Spec. Hons. ‘03) and Sky Fairchild-Waller (BFA ‘09). Building on material she first explored in her thesis research, Norman continues her investigation of concepts of navigation. This new work looks at the limits, boundaries and discoveries unearthed in the process of navigating in close proximity to another.

Stories Off the Record is the second in a series of thesis concerts being presented this season by York’s MFA Program in Dance. The first show, Shooting a Bird, ran last fall and featured a collection of self-choreographed solos (see YFile Nov. 1, 2010 ). A final set of self-produced independent projects will be showcased later in this spring.

Tickets are $20, or $10 for students and seniors. For tickets, contact the Box Office at 416-736-5888.