Thursday, August 6, 2015

Dancing in Withrow Park

Well, the adventures are piling up faster than I can post about them, but I should mention Dusk Dances in Withrow Park, which has 4 more nights to go (the show starts at 7:30, but with a class to teach you to dance salsa beforehand) and there are matinee performance tonight and Sunday at 2:30. More details are here.

I need to start off by saying that while I am a big believer in live performance, I've never been a big fan of interpretive dance, modern dance or even ballet.  That said, I do enjoy dance more than opera...

Anyway, Withrow Park is practically in my backyard, and the suggested fee was only $10, so I thought I would check it out.

The main part of the show is 4 shortish dances (maybe 10-15 minutes each) followed by a 30 minute piece called Disconcertante.

I thought overall it was a lot of fun, but I did not think it was a good idea to haul the audience across the park for each performance.  Even if they needed set up time between pieces, they could have charted a better route that didn't force the seniors and small children to walk so far.  This was particularly true of the last piece which was held at the complete other end of the park, down a fairly treacherous incline, just as it was getting fairly dark.  I was particularly resentful as I had parked my bike on the opposite side of the park.  (While Withrow Park has a lot of nice features, it is unbelievably lacking in bike racks.)

The night started off with a Spanish dancer doing some modified Flamenco dance.  It was good, though not particularly innovative.

Then there was Mumure de femme, which was an African dance piece for five women.  This was very energetic.  I think my daughter would have liked it.

Then came Bella, which was a duet beside, on top of and under a large wooden horse.  It had it's moments, but didn't sustain my interest that much.  It could have been shorter for sure.

My favourite piece was Photuris Versicolor, which featured two female performers wrapped up in silver blankets.  They emerged as two buzzing fireflies.  This freaked out a few small children, who had to be taken home...  They danced around and finally seduced a man from the audience and then after dancing with him, ate him.

I heard from some people walking around that last year there had been a very funny piece, and I guess we could have made the show, though I suppose we were still quite busy unpacking from the move.  I wouldn't say this was laugh-out-loud funny, or at least not most of the time, but it was droll.


The night ended with Disconcertante.  I was already disposed to not like it very much, since I thought it was ridiculous to move it to the other end of the park.  I also had a sense that this was from a choreographer that took himself too seriously.  The moves were sort of intentionally anti-dance, rough, choppy movements that sort of drew attention to the whole artifice of dance.  Then to make matters worse, a solid five minute chunk in the middle was danced without music.  I've written a bit about artists who push the envelope, since they are essentially bored with all that has been done before, but they usually end up with very sterile art.  That's what I felt about this piece, and I had no qualms about leaving only a few minutes into it.

A few quibbles aside, this was an entertaining evening, and I'll definitely look into going next year, probably taking the kids as well.

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