York dance artists tap into infinite space and movement

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York dance artists

York University’s rising young dance artists take the stage March 30 and 31 in York Dances, an annual showcase concert spotlighting undergraduate choreographic and performance talent.

This year’s edition is a two-part program titled Space Continuum: Infinite and Endless. It features 22 original works inspired by the idea of a continuum in space and movement, created by third-year BFA dance students.

Course director Tracey Norman, a graduate of the Department of Dance (BFA ’03, MFA ’10) and an independent choreographer and performer, serves as artistic director for the show.

“In keeping with the theme, each of the choreographers has created a distinct spatial world and physical language that lie along the continuum of contemporary dance,” Norman said. “The environments they have created are mysterious, fantastical, desolate, animal, urban and more. The concepts and constructions of their dances vary widely, but what unites them is a distinctive driving force behind each piece which propels the outstanding performers in this exciting program.”

“They Move on Tracks of Never Ending Light” choreographed by Sophie Dow. Dancers: Julianna Velocci, Meagan Asquith, Sophie Goyette Hammels, Carly Psutka, Nic Szekely. Photo by Mackenzie Clark
They Move on Tracks of Never Ending Light
Choreographed by Sophie Dow
Dancers: Julianna Velocci, Meagan Asquith, Sophie Goyette Hammels, Carly Psutka, Nic Szekely
Lighting design: Andra Legault
Photo: Mackenzie Clark

Sophie Dow’s ensemble work, They Move On Tracks of Never Ending Light, builds on a theme of seeking solace within our cosmos, our solar system and the illuminating energy of our sun. Until We Look Closer by Shayla Lewis exhorts us to take the time to observe and experience the beauty in the world.

Inspired by Philip Pullman’s epic trilogy His Dark Materials and set to original, live music by Luc Gaylie, Maria Lucia Llano’s quintet Multiverso explores human connections through space and time. Using space as a medium devoid of meaning, Evan Winther’s trio Void reveals the inner workings of human connection when living in an unknown and unknowable world.

“Sink deeper, and deeper, and deeper…” choreographed by Nina Milanovski. Dancers: Josh Murphy and Lucia Llano. Photo by Jana Gracia
Sink deeper, and deeper, and deeper…
Choreographed by Nina Milanovski
Dancers: Josh Murphy, Lucia Llano Lighting design: LD Scarlett Larry
Photo: Jana Gracia

Why do we hide our thoughts and voices behind facades? Liam Ellington’s collaborative ensemble work Concerning the Soul seeks the answer. Ashlyn Kuy’s quartet Among Others explores self-doubt and insecurity, leavened by a sense of hope and community. The reciprocal relationship between the performers in Natasha Smith’s duet Divide expresses the dilemma of having to make a decision in the face of multiple options. Aliyah Beckles’ trio Backwards and Forwards plays with the concept of being pulled down different paths in life.

The desert represents both a symbolic and real experience in Sink deeper, and deeper, and deeper…, choreographed by Nina Milanovski in collaboration with six dancers. With his septet Orchid, Dylan Caetano invites audiences to experience a mythological world inhabited by beautiful creatures that exude a fatal attraction. In UnTerrestrian, choreographed by Vanessa Boutin, unnatural, unearthly creatures walk among us, though we are unaware of them.

Shifting between human and animal movement, Serwaa Daley’s Primitive Instincts illustrates the long-lost connection between people and their mammalian ancestors. Inspired by choreographer Meghan Van Der Giessen’s favourite animal, Elephant Skin is a tribute to the feelings and experience of family.

Constanza Oreamuno’s sextet Chromatic Corporealization offers a visual narrative that interprets the dynamics within music through improvisation and imagery. In Kinesics, devised by Angela Wells in collaboration with three dancers, the repeated motifs of gestures create an energetic, highly communicative body language.

Embracing hybrid movement vocabularies of classical Indian Bharatanatyam and western contemporary dance, Tahmina Anwar Anika’s solo Weltanschauung, set to a soundscape by Bangladeshi film music director Soummo Saha, explores worldviews that are the fundamental cognitive orientation in society. In Turbid Waters, choreographer Lindsay McBride presents flowing movements juxtaposed with clear focus as well as a variety of dynamics and physical motions. Sometimes the imagination conjures illusions of what lurks below.

“|F|ace |E|verything |A|nd |R|ise” choreographed by Nicole Robb. Dancers (from left): Rebecca Trainor, Téa Paluzzi, Meghan Van Der Giessen. Photo by Jana Gracia
|F|ace |E|verything |A|nd |R|ise
Choreographed by Nicole Robb
Dancers (from left): Rebecca Trainor, Téa Paluzzi, Meghan Van Der Giessen
Lighting design: LD Scarlett Larry
Photo: Jana Gracia

What do you do when faced with the entity that frightens you the most? Nicole Robb’s |F|ace |E|verything |A|nd |R|ecover, set to an original score composed by Alan Drenkel-Andrade, dances a response. Themes of loss, grief, longing and human connection pervade the duet Rubatosis, charting choreographer Holly Buckridge’s painful personal journey following the loss of her father. Inspired by Pixar’s Inside Out, Téa Paluzzi’s duet of the same title investigates how the human body understands and reacts to emotions.

Stop, Take a Breath, a quintet by Hailey Cook, investigates what happens when you pause for a moment amid the chaos and commotion of your daily life. With Ceaseless, Matina Zaharatos choreographs life as an unstoppable energy force, constant and unending, and the support and encouragement of others that helps us go on.

York Dances: Space Continuum unfolds Thursday, March 30 and Friday, March 31 in the McLean Performance Studio, 244 Accolade East Building at York’s Keele campus. Program A, Infinite, takes place at 7pm, followed by Program B, Endless, at 8:30pm. Admission is $10 for each program. Purchase tickets at the Box Office, online or tel. 416-736-5888.