Peter Chu in “Someone to dance with” as part of Dances for the Small Stage 30. Photo by Robin Toma Photography.
Peter Chu in “Someone to dance with” as part of Dances for the Small Stage 30. Photo by Robin Toma Photography.

Dances for a Small Stage has been around for over ten years, and in that time it’s been produced thirty times.  That’s nothing to sneeze at, especially for a small (pun intended) dance festival.  If this most recent presentation is any indication, the secret to its success seems to be presenting a widely varied array of fun, engaging, and high-calibre dance.

From a sexy, upbeat Latino number blending bachata, tango, and salsa, to a bare-bones piece of physical theatre, with a lot of variations on contemporary dance in between, the recent edition of Dances for a Small Stage was like a night of dance roulette.  The only bullet in the chamber, however, wasn’t in the hands of the dancers.  It was the emcee who came on between every single number and spent at least as much time as the dancers on stage.  Next time, I hope that Dances for a Small Stage will cut the announcer and let the dance speak for itself.

The night consisted of ten pieces from different choreographers, book-ended with two pieces by Peter Chu (photo above by Robin Toma Photography).  The first, titled “Someone to dance with” was a sweet and sensitive piece that fit into the Valentine’s Day run perfectly.  It would have been great if it had been set to anything but a Robin Thicke song, but you can’t have it all.  His ending piece, “P’s Forecast”, on the other hand, was an upbeat and adorable number about a shy guy trying to work up the nerve to talk to a pretty girl.  It was quirky, fun, and simple – the perfect way to end the night.

It’s difficult to pick out highlights from the rest of the night – from tap legend Jim Hibbard getting up on stage and have fun doing what he does best, to a solo piece set to the music of a live a capella chorus about the solitary experience of dancing in a corps, this is a case of comparing a delicious, crisp BC apples with a sweet, juicy Florida oranges.  “Tether”, performed and choreographed by Kirsten Wicklund was a sexy and skillful exploration of the feminine, “What belongs to love” was a beautiful and simple look at connection, and “Les Temps Des Cerises” told a bizarre and hilarious tale of love (or lust?) using hospital gowns in unexpected ways.

The presentation of Dances for a Small Stage is simple – a stage (yes, it is small) and some basic lighting provide the space for these local dancers and choreographers to do their thing.  Dance lovers will enjoy the varied exploration of professional and emerging dancers and choreographers.  For those who haven’t spent a lot of time in the dance world, it’s a perfect introduction to a lot of different styles, presented in a fun, celebratory way.  Plus, if something isn’t working for you, it won’t be long before the next piece begins.

Visit http://www.movent.ca for more information.  No dates have been set for the next edition of Dances for a Small Stage.

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