There are lots of reasons why festivals are awesome, but one of the reasons why I especially love the Toronto Fringe Festival is all of the great dance performances. Starting six years ago Fringe, in partnership with Dance Umbrella of Ontario, opened its doors to dance with the Dance Initiative. Every year eight spots are reserved specifically for dance shows.
So why is this a big deal? A few years before Fringe started doing this the Toronto Dance Festival had to call it quits. Fringe seized the opportunity and has welcomed dance artists to share the stage ever since, and so have audiences.
The initiative makes dance available to those who don’t normally know much about dance. Every year there are great dance shows and a great mix of styles at the Fringe. This year we have some top notch artists working in styles from contemporary to classical Indian. The quality of the shows are great and the informality of Fringe makes seeing something new relaxed and unintimidating. On the flip side, it is a great in for dance audiences to catch a theatre show or two.
In the spirit of Fringe, having both dance and theatre in one festival allows for the artists to be influenced by their peers in theatre as well as dance. The multidisciplinary nature of fringe inspires and motivates artists to try new things. You can see this in the increasing amount of theatre artists using movement in their works and the amount of dance artists using text and spoken word in their productions.
Every year the quality of the dance shows at Fringe seems to be getting better and better and this year is no exception. This year we have a great mix of artists from different styles and career levels. There is everything from Burlesque to traditional Chinese dance, and emerging artists who are putting on their first full length production to established artists who are using their show to explore a new artistic voice.
I am thoroughly impressed by the overall quality of the choreographers and performers in this year’s Fringe. I am pretty excited about a good number of the dance shows, but here are my top 3.
Jack Your Body. Presented by Mix Mix. Playing at the Randolph Theatre (736 Bathurst St.). 60 minutes.
Show times: July 05 08:45 PM, July 06 01:45 PM, July 07 10:30 PM, July 09 03:15 PM, July 11 07:30 PM, July 12 03:30 PM, July 13 12:30 PM.
Jack your Body explores the evolution of underground social dances from the 70s-90s. By blending diverse dances such as waacking, voguing & house with contemporary concepts, issues of race, gender, and social status are investigated. The cast, pose, strut, waack and jack their way through soul train, paradise garage and other iconic street dance scenarios.
I love dance that pushes boundaries and the social dances that Mix Mix is using have a history of doing just that. This should be a fun, loud, and in your face dance show. The cast of Jack Your Body is an exciting mix of emerging artists. I know whatever these guys put together will be entertaining and thought provoking.
Fracture. Presented by Good Women Dance Collective. Playing at the Randolph Theatre (736 Bathurst St.). 60 minutes.
Show times: July 05 03:30 PM, July 06 03:30 PM, July 07 07:00 PM, July 10 05:45 PM, July 11 03:30 PM, July 12 11:00 PM, July 14 01:45 PM.
Good Women showcases two original works; Shatterstate and Pod, both exploring different states of fracture. Shatterstate investigates how reconnecting with a particular state can cause a disconnect as the dancers develop physical accounts of four visual experiences. Pod reveals the dynamic journey of an organism that fractures into two separate entities.
Living in Toronto I do not get the chance to see much other Canadian dance. This Edmonton company is a great example of what is going on in the rest of the country, and a great showcase of why we should be bringing more national dance to Toronto theatres.
no permanent answers. Presented by Human Atoms. Playing at the Randolph Theatre (736 Bathurst St.). 55 minutes.
Show times: July 05 05:15 PM, July 06 07:30 PM, July 09 09:00 PM, July 10 12:00 PM, July 11 11:00 PM, July 13 05:45 PM, July 14 12:00 PM.
Choreographers Angela Blumberg and Tracey Norman join forces to share an intricately crafted full-length program entitled “no permanent answers.” These exciting voices bring forth four works performed by ten of Toronto’s finest dancers. A highly visceral experience, the work contains a unique physicality and is often interdisciplinary in nature.
Angela Blumberg and Tracey Norman never fail to leave a great impression. Individually both their choreographic styles are beautifully physical and subtly compelling. The cast for no permanent answers is another group of highly talented performers.
And the rest of the dance offerings you’ll see at Fringe this year…
A Glance at Chinese Performing Arts
Presented by Chi-Ping Dance Group. Playing at the Tarragon Mainspace (30 Bridgman Ave.). 45 minutes.
A presentation of Chinese Folk Dances to portray various cultures of the 56 ethnic groups in China and Classical Chinese Dances symbolizing perseverance, hope, beauty and purity. Also featuring a Classical Dance-Drama, Legend of the Serpents, showcasing a combination of Chinese dance, Kung Fu, and Beijing Opera weaponry. Come experience the Colours of China!
Presented by Nrittanz. Playing at the Theatre Passe Muraille Mainspace. (16 Ryerson Ave.). 60 minutes.
“Corpus Matris” celebrates provocative, subversive goddesses and rebel women in love, drawing upon sublime and grotesque female figures in folkloric and tantric lore from India. The production marks traditional classical Indian dance in dialogue with contemporary staging. This is the Canadian premiere of this production.
Presented by alvinhayle. Playing at the Factory Theatre Mainspace (125 Bathurst St.). 55 minutes.
Imagine The Notebook meets Spring Awakening. DABDA is a coming-of-age story about seven teenagers in the 1940s exploring themes of teenage rebellion, self-liberation and freedom of expression. With a mixture of contemporary dance, fashion and film, witness the sheer and fearless works of Alvin Collantes & Hayley Paone.
Erotic Tales from the Old Testament
Presented by Inque & Quille Productions. Playing at the St. George the Martyr Church (197 John Street). 80 minutes.
The bible is never a dull read. It abounds with scenes of warrior queens and concubines, of smitten stepfathers and falls from grace. While the focus tends to be on the divine, scripture is at its most sublime when it deals with themes of human love and eroticism. For the first time ever, these stories will be brought to life in an outdoor burlesque show.
Presented by Fulcrum Theatre. Playing at the Randolph Theatre (736 Bathurst St.). 90 minutes.
When Emily tears a ligament in her leg, she is forced to spend a year on crutches and reconsider her dreams of being a dancer. A multimedia dance-theatre piece from the company that won Best of Hamilton Fringe in 2012, “Here” examines the notions of being stuck and learning when to say goodbye to something you love.
Presented by monster feelings. Playing at the George Ignatieff Theatre (15 Devonshire Place). 55 minutes.
Origin: Named after the Roman god Mercury. The transporter of spirits from this world. Surface: Craters with a dusty layer of minerals. Atmosphere: Helium and hydrogen. Temp: Ranges 510 C to -210 C. Known for: Being a Rock Star. In Retrograde: June 26-July 20. In order to move forward sometimes it’s necessary to backtrack and reconstruct our paths in life.
Presented by lemonTree creations. Playing at the Randolph Theatre (736 Bathurst St.). 60 minutes.
MSM [men seeking men] is a dance theatre piece inspired by actual transcripts of online conversations between men who seek other men. Set inside a world of electronic beats where the DJ is the Omnipotent Power, the piece is a movement deconstruction of online male personas and desires towards other men.
Presented by casebolt and smith. Helen Gardner Phelan Playhouse. (79 St. George St.). 75 minutes.
If you’re tired of modern dance that takes itself way too seriously, O(h) is perfect for you. They tear apart their process of making dances, speak directly to the audience, rewrite and sing iconic rock songs, borrow from famous choreographers, deploy lightning-quick banter, and toss in a dash of breakin’. Dance. Theater. Comedy. O(h), it’s also Hilarious.
Presented by skindivers dance company. Playing at the Robert Gill Theatre (214 College St.). 60 minutes
Three original choreographies presenting life through the eyes of women on the edge. Erratic, eccentric, emotional; a physically intense experience unlike anything else at this year’s Fringe.
All images provided by the presenting company, C/O Toronto Fringe Festival.