The Difference EngineMonday, June 14, 2010
Just a few days ago I received an email from Ballet BC. It is here. I have attended most of the 21 previous incarnations of Dances for a Small Stage. What makes this one unique is twofold. For one all the dancers in this occasion will be the dancers of Ballet BC. Ballet BC is out to woo a new crowd of modern ballet enthusiasts who might be lured to attending QE performances by seeing the company in other locations. It is no accident in my books that when the different Stallings left Ballet BC, the company was soon exhibiting a new and just as different Emily Molnar fresh from her stint in Ballet Frankfurt. That these two women have collaborated in conjunction with Dances for a Small Stage producer Julie-anne Saroyan is a guarantee that this 22nd edition will surely please.
The second reason is the list of choreographers:
Gioconda Barbuto (Montreal)
Cherice Barton (USA)
Cori Caufield (Vancouver)
Margie Gillis (Montreal)
Farley Johansson (Germany)
Edmond Kilpatrick (Vancouver)
Donald Sales (Vancouver)
Lauri Stallings (USA)
All of the above are splendid (expect something humorous and off the wall from Cori Caulfield and something classy from Donald Sales) and I would like to cite Gioconda Barbuto who choreographed two pieces for the Senior and the Apprentice Dance Company of Arts Umbrella for their season finale a couple of weeks ago. I was most amazed by her touch. The rest do not need an introduction except for Lauri Stallings. Who is Lauri Stallings?
Lauri Stallings danced for a couple of years in Ballet BC and left for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. While here a few of us noticed and appreciated that rare talent of difference. Stallings had it and I used to brag that I could watch her dance from the ankles down and know she was the one dancing. This uniqueness of approach which Stallings told me (a couple of weeks ago when she was here to rehearse her piece Zak at the Vancouver Dance Centre) came from the early influence of her parents is now manifesting itself in Stallings as Stallings the choreographer.
It is precisely today that I read a review of one her works at DMAC-Duo Multicultural Dance Center in East Village in New York City. The review is not all that unflattering and it begins with Roslyn Sulcas saying that Stallings’ work Halo is presented by her “unpronounceable company gloATL which is based in Atlanta. In my files I have other reviews from the NY Times including one by the scary and venerable dance critic Alastair Macaulay on a piece that Stallings did for the American Ballet Theater. If these reviews are good but not glowing it has all to do with the slightly conservative dance scene in New York as compared to (can you believe that? I do!) our more lively and adventurous one of Vancouver. Stallings is difficult to peg.
As a dancer Stallings was pretty well the best I ever saw in Vancouver. I have no doubt that as a choreographer her piece for Dances for a Small Stage 22 starting this Wednesday, June 16 and on until the 18 will be a performance to savour.
I asked Stallings to send me some explanation on her work and her concept of space. The blog that follows is her answer.
Much More Lauri Stallings