DABDA (alvinhayle) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review

Amanda Donato photo by Alvin Collantes

The best way for me to describe my experience in watching DABDA is by comparing it to watching a powerful choreographed contemporary dance routine by legends such as Mia Michaels or Sonya Tayeh from the show So You Think You Can Dance. The routines tend to be so captivating that by the end of the routine I catch myself taking a deep breath and tapping into emotions I didn’t even know I had. DABDA did exactly that for me and more.

Generally, I can be fidgety in theatres after sitting down for a long period of time, but not in this show. This Fringe Festival dance drama, choreographed by the outstanding choreographers Alvin Collantes and Hayley Paone, had me sitting still for the entire fifty-five minutes! The only time I did move from my cozy seat at the cool Factory Theatre was right at the end during the well deserved standing ovation.

I think one of the dancers knew who I was. She pointed at me in the middle of a dance sequence and smirked. I looked at her and smiled. She caught me. She must have known that I was into her every move as she leaped across the stage effortlessly connecting both with her movements and the audience.

The dancers were phenomenal. What stood out to me was their ability to emote and tell a story. The transitions were also seamless. There was an intention behind every movement. Whether it was falling onto the stage or into the arms of the other dancers, they gave it their all and committed to each step. I especially loved when the dancers commanded attention as they would stomp their feet loudly and passionately on the stage. Great choreographic choice.

Now you don’t need to be a dancer or a dance fan to watch this. This show is unique in that it tells a story from beginning to end and each dance piece takes you on a journey. The music and background radio commentary is also complementary to the dynamic choreography. If further explanation is needed, the choreographers/artistic directors have given great notes and character descriptions that you can follow in the program.

Factory Theatre is one of my favourite theatres in the city. It is one of the theatres I have performed at in the past and it holds a lot of great memories. It is also a great venue for the large cast of eleven energetic powerful performers in DABDA.

This riveting, beautiful dance drama should not be missed. This is one of those electrifying shows where you could watch it over and over again and not get bored. I do believe I’ll be going back for a second visit to see DABDA!

DABDA is playing at the Factory Theatre Mainspace (125 Bathurst Street)

Sun July 7 – 8:45pm
Tue July 9 – 1:15pm
Wed July 10 – 12:00pm
Fri July 12 – 11:00pm
Sun July 14 – 3:30pm


  • At-the-door tickets: $10
  • At-the-door tickets are available at the Factory Theatre Mainspace starting one hour prior to show time – cash sales only.
  • Advance tickets: $11
  • Advance tickets go on sale June 15, 2013
  • Purchase online: fringetoronto.com
  • By Phone: 416-966-1062, ext 1
  • In Person: During the Festival Box Office in the parking lot behind Honest Ed’s (581 Bloor St W)

Photo of Amanda Donato by Alvin Collantes

5 thoughts on “DABDA (alvinhayle) 2013 Toronto Fringe Review”

  1. I agree the show was awesome… but, your comment that you thought one of the dancers knew who you were was kind of funny… I hope I misread that part because it sounds like you were like “I am a famous reviewer” by the way you wrote that.

    If you just meant “I felt like she was connecting with me directly” then you could have worded that differently.

  2. I can’t speak for Ashima, but when I read it, I read it as more as “the dance caught me staring”, “caught her entranced” That little twinge of guilt when we’re caught in a moment of being a voyeur, even though that’s kind of what theatre is all about, often people still have a bit of a guilty reaction to it since it’s such a taboo out in the rest of the world.

    Like I said, I can’t speak for Ashima, but that’s how I read it, not “the dancer knew I was reviewing the show”.

  3. But that is what good performers do. They connect with audience members and are able to create an illusion that they happen to be dancing specifically for that particular audience. I didn’t think that “knew me” line was in any way narcissistic at all. I can’t believe people are actually reviewing a reviewer rather than focusing on whether or not this is a show they should consider spending time and money on. Out of all the positive points in a review it’s unsettling to see how someone can nitpick the noble intentions thus worsening it for the rest of us in the arts community. No wonder reviewers often tear us apart on our effort so mercilessly, because we have forgotten how to be grateful.

  4. I am not an artist. I am just a patron. I thought that section of the review was odd. I have never used this site before but I was searching out reviews of DABDA because I enjoyed it (like I said above). Didn’t mean for people to take offence to it. I thought I was pretty civil in my comments.

  5. I ducked out of work today to catch the 1:15p performance of DABDA. Unfortunately, the power at the Factory Theatre went out about 2/3 of the way through.

    That being said, this piece is possibly one of the most powerful dance shows I’ve seen in a while both on a casting and choreographic level. The dancers are each immensely powerful and also possess their own individual flair that is nuanced enough to make group numbers impressively balanced, as well as keep their characters distinct from each other.

    I won’t go on and write a whole other rave review for this piece, but I will say that the level of talent and professionalism of the cast should be commended. The lights and music conked out rather surprisingly and suddenly and yet… the dancers on stage did not falter in the least.

    I’m confident that, had the tech director not appeared to give us the low down, they would have gone through the rest of the show without music, in the dark, and it would’ve been just as astounding and beautiful to watch.


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