Thursday, July 18, 2024

Dance review: Dances for a Small Stage 32 is intimate

In its 32nd edition, Dances for a Small Stage moves to a new location, The Anza Club. The intimate space greets the audience with suffused lighting and round tables, with the informal setting and the unusual space for a dance event designed to capture your attention from the start.

As you enter, the “Slow Dance Table” from Caroline Liffman is underway.  This intriguing, participatory and ongoing performance invites audience members to enter a “private booth” draped in black curtains, to dance to a slow nostalgic song while Liffman played the music.

Jugalbanhi #1 and #2, the opening and closing pieces performed and choreographed by Scheherazaad Cooper and Dayna Szyndrowski, were two brilliant explorations of Odissi Indian traditional dance and flamenco.

What happened in between was a sequence of different styles and techniques, with a common signature: the collaboration between dancers, musicians and visual artists.

Burgundy Brixx and Judith Garay presented Ohhhh… an enjoyable piece just in time for Halloween, as they performed as two witches. The dancers bewitched the audience with ultraviolet lights that transformed the perspective and perception of their dancing bodies.

Heather Myers, in collaboration with Agnes Tong, created Threshold, a work characterized by mechanical and rapid movements, almost as if they were robots. The piece was full of unexpected moments, especially when they jumped down the stage and came even closer to the audience.

Following intermission, Ballet BC dancer Kirsten Wicklund presented The Waiting Room, a surprisingly long piece, at least for this night, with dancer Andrew Bartee (Ballet BC) and the live music of the harp played by Elisa Thorn. The live music and the text spoken where instantly recorded and then reproduced creating a simple, yet intensive effect. Although the narrative of the piece was quite complex, these two amazing dancers, accompanied by harp music, completely supported the piece.

Vanessa Goodman and Karissa Barry worked with musician and visual artist Loscil for Sea Island Project. The two creatures came out of a screen where black and white images of the sea were projected. The bodies became sea creatures, dancing with a balance of sinuous and sharp movements supported by the connection between the projection and the dance.

Given the length of some of the pieces it was perhaps surprising to find that some of the choreographers did not push far enough, with some moments of the choreography not fully developed. However, the performances are helped immensely by the intimate nature of the The Anza Club that evokes a cabaret feel, with performers closer to the audience.

Dance for a Small Stage 32 continues until October 23 at 8 PM at The Anza Club (3 West 8th Ave, Vancouver). Tickets and more information are available online at

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