Photo: Brenda Molina-Navidad

Ryerson Dances 2016 Review: students perform four diverse acts

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By Brenda Molina-Navidad

Ryerson University’s School of Performance is showcasing third and fourth year Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) dance students in their fall production, Ryerson Dances 2016.

The dancers are performing a remount of Heroes–originally made for the Hubbard Street Dance Company in Chicago–and three new works choreographed by renowned Canadian choreographers this week at the Ryerson Theatre.

“Each of these works is distinctive in its content, quality and creative approach leading to a wonderfully diverse program”, wrote Ryerson Dances 2016 producer Vicki St. Denys, in a statement from the Director of Performance Dance.  

A crowd of hundreds gave a thunderous applause at the opening night of the show on Nov. 15. Then the curtains rose and the first act began.

The first act opened with the remount of Heroes choreographed by James Kudelka. Kudelka was an artistic director at Canada’s National Ballet School and is known for his versions of The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and Cinderella. The Ontario-based choreographer has worked with large ballet companies worldwide and smaller contemporary group dances.

Next up was one of the new works titled Black Rain choreographed by William Yong. Yong is the Zata Omm Dance projects artistic director and with over twenty years of professional dance experience he choreographed this work. On the program, Black Rain is described as an atmospheric event that creates precipitation which is polluted by dark matters like desert sand, volcanic ash or nuclear fallout.

In Black Rain the Ryerson dance students covered the wide stage and moved in synchrony. The music accompanying the routine set the tone ranging from an intense beat to a calm one. Scene after scene the dancers told a story until the curtains closed and the next act got ready.

Ryerson’s student-dancers pursuing a BFA are given professional training in a variety of dances such as jazz, modern and contemporary, and ballet for the dance program. In their last two years students begin to work towards their career goals.

According to the producer St. Denys, Ryerson Dances 2016 is a step forward in their dancing careers. “This experience is crucial to the development of these aspiring young artists and plays an integral role in their ongoing training and in the pursuit of their professional goals.”

Back on stage, the lights grew dim at the 43 Gerrard St. East theatre until it was completely dark. The audience quieted and the dancers began the second new work, Le part des chrysalides, choreographed by Louis Laberge-Côté and the performers.

Laberge-Côté is a dancer, choreographer, teacher and rehearsal director from Toronto and for Le part de chrysalides he collaborated with the dancers to explore the idea of “getting out of one’s skin,” described on the show’s program.

Chrysalides is translated to chrysalis which is the hard shelled pupa of a moth or butterfly. When the insect is transforming and growing the chrysalis acts as a protective layer, but once the transition is complete the shell is left behind.

This piece is about reclaiming and abandoning one’s body, breath and space, according to the program.

The last and most colourful work of the night was Yet choreographed by Heidi Strauss. Strauss has danced professionally and choreographed for numerous companies including the Toronto Dance Theatre and The Canadian Opera Company.  

The program describes Yet as a study of formality and breaking formality as well as how patterns start. This study also looks at a responsiveness to connect or support one another during tasks and “movement constructions.”

“It’s not over, it’s not over,” the dancers performing Yet repeated as their piece ended and the curtains closed for the last time that night.

There will be a total of six performances going on until Nov. 19.

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