York professor’s work brings Toronto’s dance heritage to the stage

In Toronto’s thriving dance scene, audiences can catch a world premiere performance virtually every week of the year. Less frequent is the opportunity to see a remarkable work for the second time. The Toronto Heritage Dance program does just that, it presents a blend of existing and new works that brings Toronto’s expertise in choreography to the stage.

Toronto Heritage Dance program returns this weekend with an exciting and varied offering of works by five choreographers. Dance enthusiasts have until Sept. 29 to catch the program at the Winchester Street Theatre, 80 Winchester St. in Toronto. The combination of historical and new works on the program, created by some of Toronto’s leading choreographers, reflects both the rich legacy and current vibrancy of Toronto’s modern dance scene. Show times are Sept. 27 and 28, at 8pm and Sept. 28 and 29, at 2pm.

maryjanewarner-2012forweb_000__mediumFounded in 2002 by Patricia Beatty and Nenagh Leigh, Toronto Heritage Dance is dedicated to raising the public’s awareness of Toronto’s dance tradition. York dance Professor Emerita Mary Jane Warner (right) in the Faculty of Fine Arts, is a noted historian of modern dance and has worked extensively to document the Canada’s choreographic heritage through videography, notation and writing.  Warner, together with Leigh, are directors of the 2013 Toronto Heritage Dance program. Both are committed to sharing Canadian modern dance classics and new original creations with new and established audiences..

This year’s program features work by renowned choreographers David Earle, Patricia Beatty, Danny Grossman, the late Judy Jarvis and Nenagh Leigh.

Earle, a recent Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal recipient and award-winning choreographer, revisits his treasured quartet Mirrors, the inspirational wellspring and now centerpiece for his signature Baroque Suite. This revival features dancers Kate Alton, Bill Coleman, Danielle Baskerville (MFA ’13) and Michael English.  Earle also brings his unique new Two Soliloquies for dancers Bill Coleman and Anh Nguyen, the duet Love II from his epic work Maelstrom, performed by Baskerville and English, and his more recent fast-paced full company work Sculpting Time 3.

Beatty’s joyous and playful Skyling provides a template for new interpretations by dancers Baskerville, Emma Kerson, Robyn Breen, Louis Laberge-Côté, current York MFA student Christianne Ullmar and Austin Fagan. Visually striking and with music by the late Canadian composer Michael Baker, this work celebrates freedom and engages the imagination.

Grossman’s whimsical and enchanting Bella was co-created with Jarvis. This most enduring duet resonates with charm and humanity. Jessica May Hall performs with Michael Caldwell and with Mateo Galindo Torres in this signature work inspired by Puccini’s music and the paintings of Chagall. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALeft: Bella by Danny Grossman and Judy Jarvis. Dancers: Jessica May Hall and Michael Caldwell. Photographer: Frederick Warner

Leigh’s haunting solo journey Terra Incognita created for dancer Eddie Kastrau and featuring original music by Canadian composer Gilles Goyette will be performed by Kastrau and by Louis Laberge-Côté.

kastrau1Right: Terra Incognita by Nenagh Leigh. Dancer: Eddie Kastrau. Photographer: David Hou

Tickets are $30 for regular admission, $25 for arts workers, seniors and students. To order tickets online, visit the Toronto Heritage Dance website. Service fees will apply to online orders. Cash online at the door. For more information or to reserve tickets, call 416-912-8711.

More about Professor Emerita Mary Jane Warner

An authority on Canadian dance, Warner published the book Toronto Dance Teachers: 1825-1925 as well as numerous articles on dance in Toronto. With colleague Norma Sue Fisher-Stitt, she developed a CD titled Shadow on the Prairie an interactive multimedia dance history tutorial that was released on the York Fine Arts recording label in 1997 – the first dance history CD-ROM ever published. Working in collaboration with York dance professor Selma Odom, she completed Canadian Dance: Visions and Stories, an anthology of Canadian dance published by Dance Collection Danse. She recently completed a SSHRC grant documenting the work of several senior choreographers. She was instrumental in the establishment of Toronto Heritage Dance, an ensemble with a mandate to raise awareness of our modern dance tradition through performance, educational and preservation activities. She has received funding through the Ministry of Health Promotion to place students in community centres to teach dance to older adults as part of the Healthy Communities Fund.