A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


Arts Umbrella - Essentially - Pure Dance
Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lauren, Rebecca (both dressed to the teeth) and I attended the Arts Umbrella Dance Company Season Finale last night at the Vancouver Playhouse. I have gone to these before with Rebecca and it features the Senior Company Dancers and the Apprentice Company Dancers. As a special treat that happened because of an exchange program the evening also featured Joffrey Ballet School Dancers (no less!) and a finale, Samsara (choreographer Margo Sappington) that combined both dance companies and brought down the house with intensity, music and costumes to die for.

Rebecca and I go to a lot of dance and Lauren is becoming an aficionado, too. We know what we like. I find it curious that even if you compare this yearly Arts Umbrella tradition to any other dance performance by any company, be it Canadian or international, only the Arts Umbrella performance seems to be, essentially, intense and pure dance. Only La La La Human Steps from Quebec leaves me as exhausted and satiated.

Last night was no exception. At a pre-performance reception were Rebecca chatted with Emily Molnar and Tiko Kerr, we were asked when we felt most alive. The question was immediately answered that dancers, the Arts Umbrella dancers, feel most alive when they dance. That made me think as I am too self-concious when I dance the Argentine tango to feel alive. I am much too worried if I am doing the right steps.

I would say that I feel most alive during a portrait session. There is that instance when I know I have my shot. And I know I can quit at that moment and not fret anymore. Attempting to take that photograph with fewer and fewer exposures (in an age of digital regurgitation) is specially satisfying.

In a number before the intermission, Grosse Fugue (by dazzling Toronto choreographer Roberto Campanella) in a beginning with absolute silence (Beethoven was to be later) Alex Burton and Alyson Fretz danced together. Burton's profile would have launched a thousand ships of Amazon women. Burton and Fretz, for a few moments, were the ultimate Romeo and Juliet falling in love. The sexuality, intense as it felt to me, was romantic, classy, tender. I felt like running up to Ballet BC's John Alleyne (sitting in the back row) and saying, "Mr Alleyne, choreograph your version of Romeo and Juliet. You have your dancers here, and now."

I was alive.

There were some moments of retrospection for me. I wonder why Rebecca and her powers that be do not understand that women like dancer and choreographer Emily Molnar, and dance director Artemis Gordon (seen here with Alex Burton) instill in dancers a way of life that will make them better persons even if they ultimately do not become dancers. They learn unflinching commitment and a desire to do their best in a world that is bocoming more and more a world of mediocrity and incompetence.

Rebecca and I missed Nina Davies our most favourite and flexible dancer. She has back problems (at this moment unresolved). I have watched Davies dance for some four years and I have chatted with her and her mother Kitty. At age 16 she is the very model of the girl I would like Rebecca in some way to resemble. But let me end with a humorous note. Artist Tiko Kerr introduced a gentleman to her. "Rebecca, this is my husband Craig." A few moments later, a puzzled Rebecca asked me, "How can that be?" And then she immediately said, "Oh, yes I understand now."

I was alive.


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