Dancers Victoria Di Carlo and James Abrazado at a Short Dances in Small Spaces event. PHOTO COURTESY KEN DOBB

Underground dance group branches out

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By Noushin Ziafati

A group of Ryerson students and alumni are providing Toronto dancers and other artists with a place to practice and express themselves.

Short Dances in Small Spaces (SDSS) is an “intimate” monthly event providing dancers, musicians and more with studio space to share ideas with a small crowd of students, professionals and everyday artists.

Founded in April 2013 by Toronto based dancer and choreographer Alvin Collantes, the show is gradually drawing more artists from a diverse range of talents.

“Combining various types of art is in a way a dance on itself,” said Collantes.

The event’s Facebook page reads that the club was meant to “introduce 10 dancers and present ideas, personal stories, movement exploration tasks through forms of improvised movement, choreography or physical theatre.”

The monthly dance club started small and through word of mouth.

Event locations, often subject to change, were purposely kept in secret to make attendees put effort into finding where shows would occur. Through this method, an intimate, enthusiastic audience of about 20 appeared for the show.

“If there is an emotion you would like to explore or a personal story you would like to share, SDSS is a perfect space for you to explore it,” Collantes said.

The event has grown and is now featuring members of Musicians@ Ryerson as well.

Maricris Rivera – a Ryerson arts and contemporary studies student, stage manager for SDSS and Musicians@Ryerson executive board member – intends to bring in more musicians to play.

Musicians play both cover songs and originals. At a show, Rivera played a piano recording of “Vienna” by Billy Joel and sang while a dancer improvised a performance.

“There was some sort of connection that built there. That was really fun. We fed off each others’ energy,” Rivera said.

To Alysa Pires, a 2012 Ryerson dance alumni, SDSS events make her work instinctively.

“As a choreographer, I am fascinated by the creative process and am almost more interested in that exploration and discovery than I am in seeing a finished product. The club offers a rare chance to see someone’s process in real time,” Pires said.

For Collantes, Rivera and other members, SDSS is a place where competitiveness of the art industry disappears.

“[SDSS] is one of the few places I’ve found where all that [competitiveness] goes out the window, where you forget how tough of an industry it is, where you’re all just people,” Rivera said.

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