Twelve months have come and gone on Edmonton’s stages, so we polled the city’s dance sphere to share their favourite moments as both watchers and performers. There was incredible response (thank you #yegdance!), and though we weren’t able to fit them all in, these were some of our favourites, too:
Three favourite moments for me: the long, silent exchange of glances among a circle of sitting dancers in Tania Alvarado’s Hereafter; watching Jacques Poulin-Denis smear Nutella all over Brianna Lombardo as she improvised a beautiful, lyrical solo in Junkyard/Paradise—hilarious and horrifying; and one of my favourite annual traditions, the Nextfest closing night b-boy battle with actors-who-dance versus actual street dancers. It never fails to entertain, and I never fail to almost wreck myself trying to keep up with the real b-boys/b-girls.
In 2012, Edmonton’s Citie Ballet performed a giant leap to abandon its semi-professional status. Stephen and I have been active supporters of the group since its inception. The October 5 performance of Hereafter was absolute perfection in every way.
Highlights for me included performing with Andrew Harwood in CAGE’d, the outdoor site-specific pieces we did for Make Something Edmonton (“Dances in Unused Spaces”), and performing Spatial Pull with 12 pick-up dancers on a staircase in Ottawa.
My favourite production: Les Grands Ballets Canadiens’ Sleeping Beauty. Inventive. Smart. Brilliantly executed. I loved this sassy adult fairy tale that imagines the prick of a heroin needle as the impetus for Beauty’s slumber. It was also pretty special this year to share The Nutcracker with my six-year-old son for the first time. He liked how the giant mouse got stabbed.
My favourite moment in dance in 2013 was when I performed my first show of Madame Butterfly as the lead role. It was a wonderful experience to have had the challenge to interpret a character that made me change to another personality.
A memorable moment of 2013 was when Sasha Ivanochko came to town to teach a series of professional contemporary technique classes. In my tiny contemporary dance world, Sasha is a big deal. Having her share her wisdom, experience and ferocity with us was a huge honour, which I will remember for a long time.
My favourite dance moment of 2013 was Nextfest. Not a moment really but the whole festival. It was the first year Good Women came on board as curators of Dancefest, and one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve had as an artist. Good Women started out at Nextfest in 2009 and have seemingly grown up through the festival. To have the opportunity to take charge of the dance component, to program and mentor emerging artists with the same drive and eagerness that we had was such a gift, and feels very full circle for the company.
Sometimes what I most love is to see dance in its rawest form. Helen Husak lead an extended workshop process at the Expanse Festival which culminated in an open showing. Rather than doing a cut-and-dried showing, Helen opened a window into the process that led to the creation of 11 small solo works. It was totally thrilling to watch the dancers work with Helen. The choreography was honest, organic and sitting right on the edge of memory and invention. It quietly exploded my afternoon.
Denise Clarke is a force. I cannot take my eyes from her when she is moving and speaking. She is mesmerizing. My favourite moment came when 16 women emerged from the Expanse audience to take their place on stage with her, put on ballroom gowns and start their choreography. It was one of the most magical experiences of my life.