Lust & Sexual Longing, A Touch Of Profanity - All In Good TasteSunday, May 27, 2012
I lived Saturday in three dimensions.
|Wen Wei Wang|
So I went for more and attended that evening’s final performance. In doing so I was able to see the full program as the two-day event (three separate programs, three performances) incorporated far too many pieces to be enjoyed in one sitting, so they were staggered to accommodate all the choreographers and give the performers of the Senior Dance Company and the Apprentice Dancers, all in all about 70 dancers, room to do their thing. And a fine thing that was.
The two o’clock show left me most satisfied as was my 9 year-old granddaughter Lauren and there was a variety of dance that avoided (yes!) tap dancing, flamenco, belly dancing, cutesy dancing, character dancing and anything resembling May-pole dancing in a schmaltzy 19th century mode. It was all brutal (in a good way) direct modern ballet or modern dance. Not that it was devoid of humor. There was lots of that. But the performances would end (alternating the Seniors and the Apprentices) with almost nonexistent and most efficient breaks between them.
And that could have been it and I could write about every individual dance and give you glowing remarks on the choreographers involved and that they came from all over the world just for the Arts Umbrella Dance Company.
But I would rather write about the first three pieces of the evening which had not been included in the matinee. Dawn by Choreographer Wen Wei Wang (the Seniors), jeune et jaune by Simone Orlando (the Apprentices) and An Instant by Lesley Telford (the Seniors).
The first, right off the bat, was about a healthy, handsome, beautiful, fit group of dancers who have discovered sexual longing and the bitter sweetness that it involves. Costume Designer Linda Chow stuck (very smart!) to basics and this year’s collection of male dancers, were wearing only short shorts. They showed off rippled washboard stomachs and thighs that bulged where they should. They were all tall (from my vantage point of center first row where my eyes are about the level of dancers’ ankles) masculine, good looking and oozing with charm when needed and pathos when obliged. The women wore clothing that did not intrude on their beauty and the combination reminded me of Cornelius Fischer-Credo's The Beauty Machine (featuring three very tall and stately dancers) and of Helmut Newton’s series called Big Nudes. I felt in some moments like a voyeur and in others like I was clicking the shutter on my Nikon FM-2. This raging heterosexual man could not take his eyes off those young men!
The second dance by Simone Orlando featured music of the Oscar Peterson Trio and the costumes by Kate Burroughs were in a bright, happy yellow that made me, momentarily forget the sexual shenanigans of Wen Wei Wan’s piece. This dance was about the discovery of love and the opposite sex. It was an exploration done in the good taste and elegance that Simone Orlando always brings to anything she choreographs. Wen Wei Wang was about innocence’s fall, Orlando’s about innocence being flaunted. Orlando’s piece was the Moët & Chandon palate cleanser between the two heavy pieces and Lesley Telford’s An Instant was just that. Kate Burroughs's costumes showing hints of the Matrix series of films made me imagine that these dancers were a 21st century version of Bernstein’s Jets and, while they were not holding menacing switchblades, I could almost see them.
An Instant made me see the light (and I don't write this all in jest!). The Seniors all look at each other in complete understanding as they dance. They are sort of like all those blond girls and boys in John Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos (film Village of the Damned). Are they all part of a cabal, a secret organization, a pseudo masonic lodge (is Artemis Gordon a Mason? Am I the first to catch on?) that is out to infiltrate the world with intelligence and poise? And I know who one of the ringleaders might be. His name is Paxton Ricketts. And surely the enforcer would be Scott Fowler?
I ran into Ballet BC’s Donald Sales and told him how I had liked these three pieces and that I could have (almost) gone home right after, perfectly happy. I mentioned An Instant. His comment was, “You like all that European stuff.” Yes! Especially anything by the Netherlands Dans Theater 1, which just so happens is where choreographer Lesley Telford works.
The rest of the show included such young choreographers as Ballet BC’s Alyson Fretz who only graduated from Arts Umbrella but a couple of years ago. It included edgy stuff by the red-haired wonder Lina Fitzner, disco (as in ballet disco) splendidly choreographed to the music of Cyndi Lauper by James Kudelka, a blend of Canadian and European heavy duty stuff by my fave (and Ballet BC’s Emily Molnar) Gioconda Barbuto to finally Aszure Barton’s Les Chambres des Jacques (less about sexual longing as out and out lust) that featured and mixed the music of Gilles Vigneault with Vivaldi’s. The costumes by Shirley Chan and Shelly Nichele had the women of the Senior Dance Company wearing tight corsets that made me lose my breath! At one point Christoph von Riedemann (I last remember him as a healthy looking young boy) who is now a most becoming red haired man, on his knees, gently makes it like he is traveling with his mouth, ever so close, up Kiera Hill’s legs and shortly after Brazilian Joao de Paula (handsome and an expert in primitive candomblé rights) yells out, “puta que pariu!” I know what that means but I had to go back stage to confirm what I thought I had heard. It is close to Spanish and it means “ …the whore mother who bore you!” Joaa de Paula indeed did confirm it. Artistic Director Artemis Gordon was quick to explain, “It is part of Aszure Barton’s choreography so we have to respect her vision.” I might have noticed a wink but if I did I would not reveal that here.
I am so glad that Artemis Gordon and her fine troupe respect the vision of the renowned choreographers they manage to lure to Granville Island. Now let's stop making this an exclusive Vancouver secret!
Yes it was an evening of lust, sexual longing, and a touch of profanity but all done in exquisite good taste. We in Vancouver deserve this sort of thing, even if we all don’t know about it.