The York Dance Ensemble, the exuberant pre-professional company of York University’s Department of Dance, leaps into the spotlight this week with a showcase performance. Aptly titled Precious Metals, it features three sparkling world premieres and three well-burnished choreographic favourites. The show lights up the Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre in the Accolade East Building March 20 to 22.
Faculty member and indie dance artist Julia Sasso debuts her large ensemble work “slipsilver”.
It’s billed as a glorious kinetic swirl of dance for the full company that dazzles the eye, delights the ear and uplifts the spirit. The piece is set to a score composed by York music student (and three-time Hollywood Music in Media Award nominee) Isaias Garcia, performed live by Garcia, Keevin Andrews, Neel Dani, Chris MacFarlane, Gregory Reid and Vennie Tu.
Balancing on the steely knife edge between hip hop and contemporary dance is “False Awakenings”, a riveting new work created for the York Dance Ensemble by Tentacle Tribe, Montreal-based urban street dance artists Emmanuelle Lê Phan and Elon Höglund.
The third premiere is Small’s latest choreographic creation, “bronze by gold”. Set to an original score by Emilio Guim and performed by MacFarlane, Reid and Tu, this scintillating work for 10 dancers glimmers in the darker recesses of the soul, exploring the mysteries of one possible afterlife.
Returning to the stage are two works choreographed by rising stars from York’s MFA program in dance.
In “The Snowglobe”, a work for six dancers by Marie France Forcier, movement surfaced from somatic memory: the choreographer’s to establish a base, the dancers’ to develop and refine the content. The piece emerged from individual and collective kinaesthetic reactions to recalling nightmares, confusion, loss and trauma, and developed as an exercise in dissociation: the body operating in one direction, the mind in the other.
Michelle McClelland’s quintet “The Cyborg’s Plight” sources movement from individual interactions with technology. It explores how tremors felt in industrial environments, vibrations experienced with handheld devices and lurching suspension in transportation technology stimulate and interact with the body. These inspirations were then given to the dancers to discover how their own interactions are affected.
The program culminates with “Spring Rounds”, an excerpt from the York Dance Ensemble’s spectacular 2013 production of Rite Redux, a contemporary re-imagining of Stravinsky’s legendary score and Nijinsky’s groundbreaking choreography for the iconic 1913 ballet Le Sacre du printemps. This episode, choreographed by Small, was remounted last month at the invitation of the Art Gallery of Ontario as part of the programming surrounding its blockbuster exhibition The Great Upheaval: Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection, 1910-1918.
In “Spring Rounds”, a tribe of feral youngsters living deep in a Northern Ontario forest, costumed in worn flannels, grimy pants and scuffed boots, offers ritual dances to summon spring back to our frozen land.
Precious Metals runs Thursday, March 20 and Friday, March 21 at 7:30pm, and on Saturday, March 22 at 2pm. Admission is $20, $15 for alumni and $12 for students, seniors and arts workers. Tickets may be purchased online, by phone at 416.736.5888 or at the door.