That Deep BenchSaturday, June 05, 2010
When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was, (but the servants which drew the water knew) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, and said unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou has kept the good wine until now.
Today, Rebecca and Lauren attended the Arts Umbrella Dance Company Season Finale at the Vancouver Playhouse. Even though there were long lineups to enter the theatre we still managed to sit in our favourite seats, front row and smack in the center. From here we were able to see everything in great detail.
Unlike the marriage at Cana, Arts Umbrella Artistic Director, Artemis Gordon chose to display the best in the beginning. Gioconda Barbuto’s (above right) piece Sling Shot choreographed for the Senior Dance Company was clearly the best of the evening. My granddaughter (12) who has been seeing dance since she was 5 agreed with me. We also agreed that the second piece by Ballet BC’s Donald Sales, left, Yours Truly choreographed for the older members of he Apprentice Company Dancers was a close second. One of the reasons that both these works had a curious appeal to Rebecca is and she commented, “It is so wonderful to see modern ballet, even modern dance set to classical music.” In the case of Barbuto she used the music of Joan Jeanrenaud, Antonio Vivaldi and Francesco Geminiani while Sales choice of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata performed by Flafkkvartetten on some sort of synthesizer was an inspired one.
There is a movement these days to use a lot of anti-ballet (my coinage) moves that are clearly ungainly, unattractive for reasons that sometimes escape me. But I am adjusting slowly! Both Barbuto and Sales still believe in the beauty of human grace and both works had lots of that.
The rest of the evening was inspired, exciting and certainly never dull. It clearly showed that Gordon and her company have what in sports would be called a deep bench of talent. Everybody in the company had a chance to shine which made the evening seem long only if you checked your watch (3 hours including intermission).
In a couple of numbers by the Senior Dance Company, Cherice Barton’s entertaining (music by Jacques Brel, Johnny Horton, Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, The Platters, Sandy Nelson and Eidth Piaf) ’59 and Shawn Hounsell’s Kinesphere all or most of the Senior Company were on stage. Seeing what a choreographer can do with 20 dancers must have made Ballet BC’s Artistic Director Emily Molnar (whom I spotted amongst the audience) awfully jealous! - A deep bench, indeed.
It was in Barton’s ’59 where I finally noticed that Jed Duifhuis(above right with friend Nina Davies) is more that just a tall and strong dancer. Yes, he can pick up dancers and swing them around. But he has this manly style so rare these days in our city’s dance companies. He has not yet graduated which means he has another year to hone his skills. I see a future for this boy turned man.
Of Alex Burton, above, left, I can only say that every time Rebecca would ask me, “Who’s the prettiest girl on stage now?” I would answer, “I don’t know because I am too busy watching Alex.” I look forward to his performances as an apprentice dancer for Ballet BC this coming season. It was Alex Burton, Jed Duifhuis and Scott Fowler who taught me to notice them and give all those pretty girls a rest!
But there are two pretty girls I did notice beyond the multi-talented and strong (and compact) Livona Ellis who has already been hired by Ballet BC. One of them is Clea Owens, left, with big eyes, lots of freckles and an expression on her face of almost anguished wonder. Her body is tiny and compact and it must be a dream to choreograph to her body. In a short chat with Gioconda Barbuto when I was throwing praise on her Sling Shot I mentioned that she had even choreographed for extremely tall and long limbed male dancer (from Manchester) Chris Hoyte. I had noticed that Barbuto had taken advantage of those long limbs and done something that no other dancer in the company could have possibly equaled. Barbuto answered something like, “I choreograph to anything that nature throws at me. After all it is all nature’s way.”
Clea Owens appeared lots and the more I saw of her the more I liked. As I watched her dance I wondered if she could also act. That could be a second career seeing that dance does not always pay the rent.
The second dancer I noticed I have noticed for many years as I waited for my Rebecca to finish her classes at Arts Umbrella for the four years she was there. Kiera Hill, left, has to be noticed as she indeed proves what I thought was a fallacy. And this is that, indeed, some dancers are swans. I have not been the only one who noticed as she was the recipient of an important Arts Umbrella Scholarship prize. Kiera Hill might just be the one to inherit the mantle of that other would-be swan Ballet BC’s Alyson Fretz. And yes Fretz did graduate from Arts Umbrella.