Five (six, actually) dance artists to watch in October 2018

Who: Incandescent Montrealer dancing with Robert Abubo in Battleground (Mille Batailles), at Fleck Dance Theatre (207 Queens Quay West) on.

Who: Incandescent Montrealer dancing with Robert Abubo in Battleground (Mille Batailles), at Fleck Dance Theatre (207 Queens Quay West) on Friday and Saturday (October 5 and 6).

Why: Harbourfront has rebranded its dance series Torque, and is kicking off the season with one of Canadas most mesmerizing artists. The first time I saw Lecavalier was her appearance with La La La Human Steps here in the early 80s. Her explosive work with that company made her a star, much in demand by the likes of David Bowie, with whom she toured in the 90s.

Still incredibly strong and fit on the cusp of 60, these days Lecavalier typically pushes her body to the max in her own propulsive choreographies. Battleground, inspired by Italo Calvino characters, references a fight ring and should be no exception.

Torque programmer Nathalie Bonjour counts herself among the many smitten with the tiny powerhouse: I have admired her for many years. Lecavaliers work is the perfect way to open our new dance season examining both external and internal collision, offering the possibility of resolution through resilience, toward physical and emotional liberation.

Who: Collaborators on Counter Cantor, commissioned for Fall for Dance North (FFDN), at Ryerson Theatre (43 Gerrard East), Thursday (October 4).

Why: Plamondon (above, right) is one of Canadas most exquisite performers. Dancing with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, RUBBERBANDance, Kidd Pivot and Netherlands Dans Theater 2 over 25 years in the biz, she is known for the daring and clarity of her moves.

At 23, Portner is newer to It girl status on the international dance scene. An Ottawa native based in Los Angeles (and married to fellow Canadian actor Ellen Page), Portner has worked with Justin Bieber, the New York City Ballet and now her own company Emma Portner & Artists. And, oh yeah, she choreographed Bat Out Of Hell, the Meatloaf musical.

Originally slated to dance the work, Portner had to drop out due to injury and is leaving her replacement, the radiant Belinda McGuire, to rehearse and adapt it with Plamondon.

Typical of dance, where things can change on a dime. Counter Cantor also heralds a stronger female creative presence at FFDN, which is growing its reach this season with affordable-to-free shows and other events at the Sony Centre, Ryerson Theatre and throughout Union Station.

Who: Zapotec performer from Oaxaca, Mexico, presenting his solo show, Requiem Para Un Alcaravan, at Aluna Theatres RUTAS Festival. Friday to Sunday (October 5 to 7) at Daniels Spectrum (585 Dundas East).

Why: Avendano explores the Zapotecan muxe identity in which men assume sexual and social roles that have been culturally reserved for women. The muxe is nominally accepted in traditional society, but for Avendano that acceptance is conditional and fraught with complications. Using dance and audience participation, he charts a journey through female rites of passage.

RUTAS, now in its fourth year, excels at presenting artists like Avendano who are challenging identity norms throughout Latin America. This years festival focuses on women, Indigenous culture and immigration, including work by artists from across the continent, presenting what artistic director Beatriz Pizano calls encounters between the contemporary and the ancestral. Programming includes local lights such as actor Liz Peterson in Performance About A Woman, and pop-up dance performances at the RUTAS cabaret featuring Fly Lady Di, Jasmyn Fyffe and Machete, choreographed by Victoria Mata and performed by Roshanak Jaberi, Irma Villafuerte, Falciony Patino and Ravyn Wngz.

Who: Founder and choreographer with Montreals RUBBERBANDance, opening the Danceworks season with the full-length Ever So Slightly at Harbourfronts Fleck Dance Theatre October 11 and 12.

Why: Quijada is the Canadian OG of integrating hip-hop forms within contemporary dance. After a career working with Twyla Tharp and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, among others, Quijadas lyrical fusion of movement traditions found a permanent home with RUBBERBANDance, which he created in 2002.

From there Quijada formalized a training method thats a perfect fit with the diverse skills dancers now routinely master in order to maintain a career. Ever So Slightly, Quijadas 25th work for the company, has a cast of 10, a DJ onstage and promises trademark fast-paced and inventive physicality.

Who: Performer in Allison Cummingss new ensemble work Exhale, at Dancemakers Centre for Creation (15 Case Goods Lane), October 17 to 20.

Why: Coleman is not shy about digging deep during the creative process a quality choreographers love. Says Cummings about casting him in Exhale, her experimental dance work about breath and the life cycle, This piece is built on a series of images and physical states as opposed to steps. I knew Bill would commit fully to their exploration.

When not bringing his offbeat sensibility to other artists works, Coleman creates personal vehicles such as Dollhouse, a thrilling collaboration with sound artist Gordon Monahan, which caused a stir at Canadian Stage in 2016 and last years Edinburgh Festival.

The work fully exploited Colemans gifts for tap dance, physical comedy and a kind of riveting existential melancholy. So it came as no surprise when he won the $50,000 Walter Carsen Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts a few weeks back. With decades of innovation in the cross-disciplinary trenches under his dance belt, theres no one quite like him in Canadian performance.

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