Satisfaction & Pathos At The Arts Umbrella Dance CompanyThursday, May 21, 2015
|Jayson Syrette & Senior Company 2 - Connor Gnam's Blank Page Syndrome - May 21 2015|
Arts Umbrella Season Finale - May 21, 22 and 23 at the Vancouver Playhouse - 7:30
Ghost Keeping with Degas
My home has space
Ghost Keeping with Degas
My home has space
In April 2007 I proposed to the then brand new editor, Bob Mercer of a brand new magazine VLM to do a story on the Ballet Boys (that’s what I called them) of the Arts Umbrella Dance Company. These Ballet Boys were part of a program initiated by then Ballet BC dancer Edmond Kilpatrick for Artemis Gordon the Artistic Director of the Arts Umbrella Dance Company. To my complete surprise Mr. Mercer said yes and Connor Gnam made the cover of the May issue. I was paid well and Connor looked great, all in black, thanks to stylist Maureen Willick.
Even though wrote the piece I have to admit that it was not bad. Unfortunately the magazine did not have the circulation of Vancouver Magazine, the Vancouver Sun or the Georgia Straight. So Connor was not lured away to the American Dance Theater (and dance with Paloma Herrera). Artemis (Arty) Gordon was not instantly hired by Julliard to head their dance program. And this blogger was not whisked away to Frankfurt to photograph the dancers of Forsythe’s company.
Fame and fortune never came (to me) but something as satisfying happened today, May 21, 2015 at the opening night of the Arts Umbrella Dance Company’s Season Finale. Three of the dance pieces were choreographed by Arts Umbrella Dance Company alumni (I have photographed all three), Alyson Fretz’s Cuore, Amber Funk Barton’s Factory, and Connor Gnam’s Blank Page Syndrome. All three have gone their way, Funk Barton has her own company The Response, Allyson Fretz is a freelance dancer and is studying at UBC and Connor Gnam dances with Ballet BC.
I was delighted with Gnam’s dance piece which had tons of humour and was about writer’s (inspiration?) block. The man on the typewriter was Jayson Syrette, the only young man surrounded by a legion of women from the Senior Company 2.
|Edmond Kilpatrick & Connor Gnam|
In traditional ballet, particularly the kind that swoons over the conventions of the 19th century, dancers are instructed to make blank smiles. In modern dance, of the Arts Umbrella Dance Company variety, the dancers not only dance but they act and show emotion. Syrette’s frustration was palpable as was his eventual unblocking. The women did not smile (much) and also displayed emotion.
Of course I could especially see this as I had lined up outside the closed doors to the theatre an hour before so I could run and sit first row, centre. There the faces are viewable without binoculars and the breathing of the dancers (particularly when they have been taxed) is part of the music to my ears.
While I never did make the fortune that I would have made as a plumber I have had the satisfaction in my magazine photographer career to have the opportunity to photograph people more than once (many times with long lapses between) and to observe young luminaries with potential become a reality of success and achievement.
I can think of only one person who might exceed my range of satisfaction. It would have to be Arty Gordon who from a beginning to end is a major deus ex machina-of-dance to her young wards. The same must apply to her staff of choreographer/dancer/instructors.
While I am not part of the Arts Umbrella Dance Company I felt empathy (a bittersweet one) tonight for the graduate dancers of the Senior Dance Company who in a few weeks will part company from what has been a home to them. While I am excited at seeing how the Apprentice Dance Company will be like next year (they will have grown up) I can understand the melancholy of the departed to what surely will be success and achievement.
Connor Gnam, Amber Funk Barton and Alyson Fretz are the proof of the dance pudding.
|Emily Molnar, Alexander Burton, Artemis Gordon - 2007|
|Nina Davies with from top left Michel Issa Rubio, right Jeremiah Kennedy, bottom left Jed Difhuis and right Scott Fowler|