Dancing their hearts out

Karla Hayward
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Film, music and movement with meaning - after 17 years, the Festival of Modern Dance remains on the cutting edge

Toss your thoughts of pink tutus. Ignore those images of interchangeable, mechanistic dancers. The Festival of New Dance is here, and it's ready to shimmy and shake all thoughts of staid, traditional dance right on out of your head.

Now in its 17th year, the Festival of New Dance (FND) is an internationally recognized and sought-after event. There are actually only a few similar events produced in Canada, increasing the cachet of ours exponentially. Each summer, since 1990, local audiences have been treated to some of the country's highest-ranking and honoured contemporary dancers as they leap, bounce, roll and gyrate across the stage at the LSPU Hall.

Louise Moyes (left) shown with Lori Clarke, brings Florence to this years festival. Photo by Justin Hall

Toss your thoughts of pink tutus. Ignore those images of interchangeable, mechanistic dancers. The Festival of New Dance is here, and it's ready to shimmy and shake all thoughts of staid, traditional dance right on out of your head.

Now in its 17th year, the Festival of New Dance (FND) is an internationally recognized and sought-after event. There are actually only a few similar events produced in Canada, increasing the cachet of ours exponentially. Each summer, since 1990, local audiences have been treated to some of the country's highest-ranking and honoured contemporary dancers as they leap, bounce, roll and gyrate across the stage at the LSPU Hall.

New Dance, for those not in the know, takes its cue from all other dance forms. But, rather than being restricted by a particular type (such as classical ballet) it's a free and open interpretation. Robbie Thomas, who's been involved in the dance community for many years explains, "It's a very personal form of creative expression. It really has no boundaries, so people feel very open to do whatever they want."

The festival is presented by Neighbourhood Dance Works (NDW), the province's primo source of professional contemporary dance. NDW is also thought by many to be the sole reason for the incredible quality and vibrancy of the local uber-modern dance scene.

NDW's influence is echoed in the weighting of local vs. non-local performers and choreographers in this year's festival. "We have this fabulous roster of local artists who are showing work. A lot of those artists we sort of brought along with our First Look series and they've come to a place where we felt, 'Yeah, they're ready for the festival,'" says Thomas.

Highlightsxbyxlocals include Louise Moyes' famous docu-dance, "Florence." It's a one-woman work in which she recreates the life of a 93-year-old dancer from Black Duck Brook, on the Port au Port Peninsula.

Thexalways-awesome Sarah Joy Stoker presents the world-premiere of her very first full-length solo work, "Sapiens Lay Here." The piece also offers up an original score by award-winning local composer Lori Clarke.

Multi-disciplined Lynn Panting dances in, and choreographs, her seven-person piece, "Particulars." Newly claimed Newfoundlanders Meghan Beresford and Tammy MacLeod each perform a solo work, "Confession" and "Dead Reckoning," respectively.

Non-local performances include some huge names. New York's formidable David Appel presents his latest solo work, "what it is." 2005 Dora Mavor Moore Award-winner Susie Burpee presents "Mischance and Fair Fortune" - the work from which this year's iconic festival image is drawn. It's inspired by Ovid's "Pyramus and Thisbe." Ted Robinson's "REDD" is a co-production of 10 Gates Dancing Inc. (Regina) and the National Arts Centre.

In addition to the dance works, this year's festival has a new component - a film series.

Thomas says, "We had a film from last year that we were unable to screen - which was Sally Morgan's film on skateboarding ("Decoding the Undertow"). We really wanted to show that because our audience is pretty keen on the newer, more modern ways of looking at dance. ... Then of course, Anne Troake did the piece called "The Gros Morne Project," which we were kind of partners with last year, so we were anxious to show that.

"And then Rosemary House did the film about Christopher, her brother ("Ahead of the Curve"). So we thought this would make a wonderful series."

The film series can be seen at the Rooms Lecture Theatre.

Workshops and off-site events are also scheduled this year, including Kate Story's "Biology as Peepshow" and Tedi Tafel's "Life-World" - a moving installation piece, seen at MELON on Water Street. The 17th annual Festival of New Dance takes place May 22-27. For complete performance listings and more, go to www.neighbourhooddanceworks.com or call 722-9454.

telyarts@yahoo.com

Organizations: Robinson's, Gates Dancing, Regina National Arts Centre Rosemary House Rooms Lecture Theatre

Geographic location: Canada, Black Duck Brook, New York Water Street

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