I must confess that I simply do not “get” dance, and so am not the ideal audience for this show. When I sat down to write this review of A Glance At Chinese Performing Arts by the Chi-Ping Dance Group & Chinese Collective Arts Association which is playing at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace, I wasn’t exactly sure what to tell you about it. And so, it is with the utmost humility that I tell you anything at all.
If you’re considering this show as part of your Toronto Fringe experience, you’re likely interested in dance, Chinese culture or both. In which case, you’re sure to get something of value out of the experience.
The specifics of the show will change depending on whichever performance you attend. The performance I saw was a Classical Dance-Drama about the Legend of the Serpents.
It showcases Chinese Dance, Kung Fu, and Chinese Opera Weaponry. The dancers are exceptionally talented and full of energy. The costumes are bright and colourful. The battle sequences, and what I like to think of as “showy stick work,” are particularly breathtaking. Let me tell you—naturalistic battle scenes in movies tend to bore me to tears, but dance battles are one helluva sight to see!
So, bravo to the company for their immense talent and dedication to their art, including choreographers—Ms Chi-Ping Lau and Ms Doris Yang.
The drama is broken up into chapters, and the specific action of each one is introduced in an opening bit of narration. So it’s fairly easy to follow the story, even if you’re not familiar with any Chinese folklore.
The company was experiencing some technical issues during the performance I attended. My guess is that these were a result of a lack of technical preparation in the specific venue. The scene changes were lengthy and awkward; the audience waited in the dark as flashlights flitted about in the wings. A flat fell over. And there were some particularly choppy sound edits.
Overall, the show was not particularly appealing to me personally. The dancers and the performance itself were quite good, and there were even moments when I held my breath. But, as I stated earlier, I was not the ideal audience for this particular show and found myself further alienated by the awkwardness of some of the technical elements.
Again, if you are interested in dance—specifically Chinese dance—then you will certainly appreciate this very talented company’s efforts.
- A Glance At Chinese Peforming Arts is playing at the Tarragon Theatre Mainspace (30 Bridgeman Ave.).
July 6 – 12:00pm
July 7 – 1:15pm
July 9 – 7:00pm
July 10 – 4:00pm
July 11 – 5:45pm
July 13 – 6:15am
- Individual Fringe tickets are available at the door for $10 ($5 for FringeKids), cash only. Late comers will not be permitted.
- Advance tickets are $11 ($9 + $2 service charge) are available online at fringetoronto.com, by phone at 416-966-1062 ext 1, or in person during the festival at the Festival Box Office in the parking lot behind Honest Ed’s (581 Bloor St W).
- Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows
Photo of A Glance at Chinese Performing Arts provided by Chi-Ping Dance Group & Chinese Collective Arts Association