By Emily Craig-Evans
Since the first week of classes in September, 55 Ryerson dance students have been practising five nights a week, busily preparing for the annual showcase, Ryerson Dances 2013.
The show – which began its run on Tuesday, Nov. 19, and closes on Saturday, Nov. 23 – is composed of four independent pieces, each choreographed by industry professionals.
“Each piece creates a world of its own,” says Karen Duplisea, producer of Ryerson Dances 2013 and Ryerson performance dance program co-director. “The work in this show is very eclectic.”
This year’s Ryerson Dances is designed to display diversity in genres; in addition to contemporary pieces choreographed by Marie-Josée Chartier and Louis Laberge-Côté, Apolonia Velasquez and Ofilio Portillo (Gadfly) created a piece using their own fusion of contemporary, electronic house and hip hop.
Choreographer and Ryerson performance dance program director Vicki St. Denys, meanwhile, created a jazz-style tribute to Dave Brubeck, an American jazz pianist and composer who passed away in December 2012.
“His music was very inspirational to me on a personal level,” St. Denys says. “I knew when he passed away in [December] that I wanted to do a piece honouring his work.”
St. Denys says she choreographed the piece with the music as the heart of inspiration. She incorporated the genre by having each of the piece’s 16 dancers improvise when the piece was in its early stages.
“I wanted to make something that was colourful, physical, vibrant and youthful,” she says, “where the movement was music in motion.”
When seeking choreographers, Duplisea says she looked for professionals who balance each other and can organize the students.
“It’s not just about their work, but mentoring and getting the best out of the students,” she says.
Ryerson Dances runs at Ryerson Theatre at 8 p.m. every night through Friday, Nov. 22. There will be a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday, Nov. 23.