The York Dance Ensemble gets ‘Out of Line’

The York Dance Ensemble (YDE), the spirited young repertory company of York University’s Department of Dance, gets off on the right foot with Out of Line, an exhilarating collection of dances about coming of age.


Above: Members of the York Dance Ensemble practise the challenging choreography created for Out of Line


The throes of young love and the mischievous thrills of going against the grain are among the many delights in this show, which runs March 23 to 26 at 7:30pm in York’s Joseph G. Green Studio Theatre.

The show was programmed by York dance Professor Susan Cash (right), a choreographer and the YDE’s artistic and managing director.

“I took inspiration from the lively dancers themselves when looking for a title this year,” said Cash. “As they prepare to leap into professional careers, I witness many of their accomplishments, celebrations and occasional sorrows as they navigate the balancing act that is student life. As a teacher, I wait with great anticipation for my students to cross the line and let creative chaos erupt. Out of Line taps into their youthful energy, their fearlessness as artists and their enthusiasm for dance.”

Two critically-acclaimed Toronto dance artists, York alumna Yvonne Ng and Robert Glumbek, have teamed up to create a world premiere for the YDE. I hear without Listening, developed during the choreographers’ residency in York’s Dance Department last fall, offers a series ofduets on the theme of partnering.  “We wanted to explore how we can listen through our physical selves,” said Ng. “What is the difference between listening and hearing? And what does it mean to not listen or not hear?”

Left: Yvonne Ng

Ng has been a major force on the Canadian and international dance scene for more than two decades. She is the founding artistic director of Princess Productions and Tiger Princess Dance Projects, whose international touring repertoire now features more than 30 works. Her many accolades include the Chalmers Arts Fellowship, K.M. Hunter Dance Award and eight Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations.

Glumbek’s experience draws from two continents. Former soloist with the Great Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Warsaw, Poland and both dancer and ballet master with Germany’s National Theatre Mannheim, Glumbek’s local experience includes a decade as a dancer with Desrosiers Dance Theatre and currently serving as artistic associate with ProArteDanza.

Ng and Glumbek are also longtime artistic collaborators. Their previous joint projects include Facing Shadows/Returning Echoes, named by NOW magazine as one of the top dance productions of 2004. Concurrently with their new work for the YDE, they have been preparing another premiere, to be showcased at DanceWorks at Harbourfront Centre in April.

Cash’s own contribution to the YDE program is a whimsical re-working for a large ensemble of her solo When the other shoe…, a piece she originally created and performed for Art School {Dismissed}, a massive exhibition held last spring in Toronto’s decommissioned Shaw Street Public School. With a nostalgic, tongue-in-cheek feel to it, the piece is accompanied by music ranging from Elvis Presley to Lauryn Hill.

Inspired by her teaching practice, in which she encourages her students to know and experience all the rules, When the other shoe… is about breaking those rules in creative and intelligent ways. “True individual expressiveness comes to light when we fall away from the rules that we have experienced as not making sense,” said Cash.

Three other works on the program were recently premiered in different contexts.

Spirit of the Wind, a lyrical piece for six dancers inspired by Japanese culture and choreographed by faculty member Keiko Kitano, premiered last spring at the 2010 International Dance Day celebration at Yonge-Dundas Square. It is set to music by Nagata Shachu, a Toronto-based Japanese taiko drum ensemble and Koto Vortex, a Japanese koto ensemble.

Adolescent angst is the theme of Ridiculous Emotions, a septet created for the young dancers this season by York graduate student Alison Daley. “When we’re 13, our bodies are much too small to contain the enormity of our reactions and emotions,” Daley said.

Left: Alison Daley

Chocolate is a well-known antidote for emotional stress, and it’s the sweet subject of a work the YDE dancers collectively choreographed under Cash’s direction with Shannon Roberts, Cash’s teaching assistant, for the Chocolate Heart Awards, an annual corporate event celebrating the successes of Mars Canada’s chocolate team. The performers will reprise an excerpt from this upbeat jazzy number, which earned them a standing ovation at the Mars awards show last fall and garnered them a scholarship of $2000.

Roberts, a dance MFA also performs solo in her latest work Caught, which whips up a dynamic atmospheric change.

Another excerpt, this time of a work-in-progress, rounds out the program. Indie dance artist and York faculty member Terrill Maguire shares some of the original choreography she has set on the YDE as part of her contribution to the upcoming BravoFact film Totem Impact, a hip-hop inspired, multidisciplinary video project by Duke Red Bird commissioned by the Art Gallery of York University.

Lighting design for Out of Line is by dance Professor William Mackwood who also serves as production manager for the show.

Tickets cost $20, students and seniors are $10 and are available through the Box Office or by calling 416-736-5888.