York Dance Ensemble’s new showcase celebrates the artistry of Professor Holly Small

Holly Small

The York Dance Ensemble is the lively young repertory company of York’s Department of Dance, featuring rising young artists on the brink of their professional careers. Now in its 27th year, the YDE has consistently and fluidly modelled interdisciplinarity and creative process among students, faculty members and guest professionals in the fields of music, performance, stage design and choreography.

Holly Small
Holly Small

Dance Professor Holly Small has served as artistic and managing director of the YDE for 15 seasons. Beginnings & Endings, the YDE’s 2015 showcase concert running Feb. 11 to 13 in the Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre on York’s Keele campus, marks her final year as artistic director.

True to form, Small has designed a scintillating program for the YDE that weaves collaborations among faculty, students and alumni.

Saman, or the dance of a thousand hands, is a celebratory, traditional dance-music work originating in Aceh province, Sumatra, in the Republic of Indonesia. Staged and directed by guest artist Shabrina Mardevi, the dance features costumes provided courtesy of the Indonesian Consulate, with lighting design by York theatre student Logan Cracknell.

Tipping Point is a full-blooded, highly kinetic dance, set in synergistic motion by Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point. The choreography features intricate partnering and ensemble dancing that dares gravity, balance and velocity. This marks the premiere performance of the work, which was created by alumna Tracey Norman (MFA ’11) together with the members of the YDE. The piece is accompanied by an original score by York music student Gregory Reid, with lighting design by Logan Cracknell.

Counterpoint cloud/project is a sparkling dance choreographed for the YDE by dance Professor Carol Anderson. Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint, scored for eleven electric guitars, inspired this work, with its retro-formalist vibe, filling the stage with shifting cloudscapes of effervescent motion. Recent dance graduate April Gorday is the lighting/projections designer.

Flesh and A Broken Whisper, a tour de force solo charting the classic hero’s journey, was created by dance artist John Ottmann (MFA ’14). The choreography takes inspiration from a poem by Wislawa Szimborska, exploring the themes of living, sacrificing and surviving. It’s set to an original score composed by Erik Geddis (BA ’93), a graduate of York’s Music Department and longtime staff musician in the Department of Dance. Flesh and A Broken Whisper is performed on alternate nights by guest artist Justine Comfort (BFA ’13) and current company member Laura Armstrong. Gorday lit the work for the Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre, re-interpreting dance Professor William Mackwood’s original design.

Small’s new choreography for Beginnings and Endings was created with contributions from rehearsal assistants and YDE dancers. Twist of Fate is a collaboration with music Professor Casey Sokol, danced to a suite Sokol composed in response to the musical creativity of violinist/composer Oliver Schroer titled Covering Oli –“Duets” for solo piano. Theatre Professor Ian Garrett created the lighting design for the work.

Beginnings and Endings takes place Feb. 11 to 13 at 7.30pm in the Sandra Faire and Ivan Fecan Theatre in the Accolade East Building.  Admission is $18. Tickets are available through the Box Office online or by calling 416-736.5888-or at the door.