December 2006

Fire On The Dance Floor
presented by Thamovement productions
December 9, 2006The Opera HouseToronto
Dance Creations Aglow At The Opera House
by Paul J. Youngman
Thamovement production company presented a celebration of choreographic works from some of the hottest contemporary choreographers the country has to offer. Billed as Fire on the dance floor — Celebrating three Years of A Choreographers Ball, producers Kathryn Miles and Marie-Christine Julien mounted a show that highlighted the diversity of dance, the talent of its participants and the excitement of fresh new choreographed dance works.

The Opera House in Toronto normally plays host to concert shows from rock to rap. They take security very seriously, taking the attitude of a safe venue is a comfortable venue. Every person is scrutinized, security personnel frisk you for weapons and all bags are checked. Many performers were complaining about the security precautions. Dancers showed up with a multitude of bags, boxes, crates and cameras. All items were opened and checked, performers treated the same as patrons. The policy of The Opera House is to not allow people in and out privileges, they also insisted the performers wear wristbands, also causing some distress for the performers. Oh well, better safe than sorry. My only concern, are the exits blocked?

The choreographers submit their work to the production company. The producers choose the choreographic work based on “Diversity, Variety and Quality.” To my knowledge, none of the performers are paid for their performances. The choreographers are displaying their work for the dance and music industry to take notice.

The showcase of the material had very little variety, primarily focusing on hip-hop. Some of the numbers were very street, while others were well-conceived and danced to perfection by highly trained dancers who would be comfortable in any genre.

The show was to have started at 10:00 pm, it started just after 10:30 pm, and the doors did not open until about 9:45 pm. The house sound system was pounding away with DJ, The 2 Swift Household providing, funk, hip-hop and dance music to fill time. Host and MC, Tashflava introduced the opening act, a group from Toronto named Hollywood, who performed “Let’s Hear It For The Boyz” choreographed by Jade ‘Hollywood’ Anderson. The music was a straight ahead pounding dance beat pumped through a stadium sized sound system that could levitate your glass an inch off the table with its bottom end 5o hertz steady state frequency. The group took to the stage with an energy that overpowered the music. A tight unit of professional dancers who moved with exacting precision and intricate patterns, a surefire statement of what was yet to come.

The show flowed smoothly from performance to performance, a group out of Chicago was next, a duo, tap dancers Lisa LaTouche and Jumaane Taylor from the group Madd Rhythms performed to some jazz fusion, and they did a very nice job. A Bollywood group, Bollywood Grooves, performed an interesting piece that could have been taken out, or put into a Bollywood film, very interesting. Eight dance groups made up the first act, the highlight, a professional group Next Tip performed “The Subway” complete with a re-creation of a TTC subway car. The piece was choreographed and performed by Mike Cota, David Cox, Shanna Cipressi, Devon Perri, Sabrina and Jennifer Porco. A high energy hip-hop journey through Toronto, from first stop Union Station to the end of the line at Finch. The dance crew, a gifted group of talented dancers, painted a picture of the diverse nature of the rhythm of communities at each stop, from the hustle and bustle at Union station to turf warfare at Queen, with a tap battle carried out by Devon Perri and David Cox, the audience was thoroughly entertained by this superb choreographed number.

The second act featured eight performances, opening with a group from Montreal, Blueprint, with a number choreographed by Steve Bolton. The group picked up the flow and pushed the energy over the top with a hip-hop performance that incorporated some classic pop music, “Stand By Me.” A spoken word, rap, vocal artist from Thunder Bay, whose name I missed and was omitted from the program, came on to fill in for a missing artist and had accompaniment from an amazing tap dancer, David Cox. Another hip-hop group followed, R.U.K.U.S., with a number choreographed by Diana Webley, an exciting number with lots of energy. Diversity showed up next in a piece choreographed and danced by Adrianna Yanuziello and her group of four dancers, Pamela Cedolia, Natasha Phanor, Katherine Bintner and Natasha Jimeno.

The excitement that the previous group had created was transformed into an intense focus by the audience as a single dancer appeared on stage dancing to a Brazilian tune, “O Ultimo Por Do Sol” by Lenine. The dancer would be joined by the other dancers who flowed as water or flickered like fire. The look was of a simple folk dance, however the dancers were dancing in a very classical form. A piece of heavenly magic seemed to roll from the stage and envelop the crowd. The audience fell into a trance-like state, slowly moving to the hypnotic motions of the dancers. The piece ended too soon, the audience breathed a collective sigh of delight, and applauded for more. A beautiful number.

The show would build with four more acts, Nexx Level, Tre Armstrong — “Given Choices,” Wynn Holmes and Luther Brown. The hit of the night, Eclectic, choreographed by Luther Brown and performed by The DD All-stars. A group of black-suited, Mafiosi-looking individuals took to the stage, and moved together as one into an exciting and suspenseful dance of high energy, phenomenal movements. The combination of brilliant choreography and the dancers’ passion for the work, put this performance over the top. A wonderful finale to a night of dance. The state of contemporary dance is safe judging by this crop of talented choreographers. The only observation I would make — it would have been that much better with more live music.

We welcome your comments and feedback
Paul J. Youngman
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