10 choreographers come together with 10 composers for 10 minutes on Vancouver stage
// Amita Gore

Vancouver’s 125th birthday has been the perfect excuse for the city to bust out some culture, which means, for the most part, more murals. However, some events sponsored by Vancouver 125 have offered a new kind of learning experience by showcasing work that isn’t part of popular discussion. Who, for instance, can name a local composer off the top of their head?

With the performance of 10x10x10, a collaboration of original music and movement by some of BC’s own, Bob Barker, the Director for the Canadian Music Centre, wanted “to bring visibility to the incredible array of composers at the CMC,” according to Martha Carter, the Artistic Director for the event. Carter took on the task of pairing choreographers with associate composers of the CMC, tasking them with the unique opportunity to create something together that was distinctly “Vancouver”.

10x10x10 was developed by Martha Carter, a well-travelled choreographer, along with Barker, who came up with the idea of bringing together composers and choreographers to represent the sights and sounds of Vancouver. “[I have] often created works that employ live music and composer collaborations,” Carter says. Each participant was chosen from the Dance Centre and the CMC’s extensive repertoire of artists, carefully selected based on “a mix of intuition and knowledge of their past work.” Carter explains they chose the Vancouver theme because “it provided a unifying theme and point of dialogue for all the artists,” which was also an excellent reference for the audience.

Each dance was introduced by a charmingly candid video featuring the choreographer and composer. It was revealed that most composers had no experience with dance and most choreographers had not been exposed to their partner’s music previous to creating their routine. Four of the ten pairs brought live musicians on stage with them. Choreographer Noam Gagnon and composer Ed Henderson collaborated on the music for alight, and Henderson joined dancer Robert Leveroos onstage with only a guitar, no sheet music. Other acts brought more classical instruments onstage with them, including a piano and upright bass.

In representing Vancouver, two performances in particular chose to focus on water. In Darkened by Clouds by composer Jacqueline Leggatt and choreographer Delia Brett, rain jackets were used to mimic the sound of rain falling as three dancers rolled, twisted, and tumbled their way across the stage. Four towers of incandescent lighting confined the dancers, suggesting lightning and the constant movement of clouds, and, at the end of the piece, the blaring sun that pushed the clouds away. As the weather changed, the dancers stripped down to bikinis. Amber Funk Barton’s contemporary piece Liquid used many forms to movement to represent the flow of water, from waves to whirlpools, showers to streams, all flowing together with John Korsrud’s score. Barton went into this piece in a unique way, not necessarily using John Korsrud’s music to guide her choreography, but allowing their work to simply slide together. The result was rapid movement when the music was calm, and vice-versa.

The routine into, your hands my spirit utilized the screen at the theatre to play a rapid slide-show of banking buildings in Vancouver to compliment composer Jeffery Ryan and choreographer Byron Chief-Moon’s seductive piece based on the stock market. The song used, “Triple Witching Days”, was written in 1997, and is about composer Jeffery Ryan’s brief brush with the world of economics. Interestingly, dancer Luglio Romero worked at Vancouver Stock Exchange for many years, adding a new depth to the piece. In the performance, the dancers ripped their suits to near shreds.

The dances, each ten minutes long, brought every possible discipline to the stage. Choreographer Joe Laughlin’s Clearing incorporated Waacking, a style of dance that involves rapid and dramatic movement of the arms, and originated with drag performances in nightclubs. Sujit Vaidya, the dancer in choreographer Alvin Erasga Tolentino and composer Francios Houle’s routine Cross Border, is trained in traditional Bharatanatyam, the national dance of India.

Some pieces did not rely solely on dance: Lee Su-Feh created a personal piece about spirituality and immigration entitled Finding the Way from Everything to Nothing. It was more of a prop-based performance piece, using matchsticks, incense, and slips of paper, which audience members were permitted to take home with them.

10x10x10 was an excellent showcase of the fusion of music and dance. With such an eclectic variety of backgrounds, themes and styles, this unique performance made for a truly unforgettable night at the Scotiabank Theatre. Carter is enthusiastic about the future of the project, answering with a resounding “yes” when asked if 10x10x10 could become an annual occurrence. Such an experience is incredibly beneficial both to the participating artists, who are given an opportunity to create new networks and friendships, and to the audience, who are given the opportunity to witness what such connections can create.

// Amita Gore, Writer
// Illustration by Sarah Taylor

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© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: editor@capilanocourier.com