Moving Upward

Fringe Festival of Independent Dance Artists (ffida) -- open faces series 10-minute works by fresh artists (five per show),.

Fringe Festival of Independent Dance Artists (ffida) — open faces series 10-minute works by fresh artists (five per show), including Meagan Browne, Robin Calvert, Sara Craig, Deborah Ibach, Siobhan Paton and others, through Sunday (August 4) Mainstage Series, August 9-18. $10 per show, $100 pass. Open Faces at Winchester Street Theatre (80 Winchester) Mainstage Series at Buddies in Bad Times (12 Alexander). fFIDA Hotline: 416-410-4291.

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The title of the dance piece is Rocky VI, but that doesn’t mean Sylvester Stallone is going to stage a comeback in a pair of tights.Rocky VI is Robin Calvert’s fun, all-female look at how male athletes take themselves, and their sports, so seriously.

The short piece pits four athletes — a cyclist, a baseball player, a swimmer and a hockey player — against Calvert herself, who plays a boxer.

“They beat me up and take away my equipment because they feel I’m not in one of the serious sports,” laughs Calvert, a week before the opening of her piece, part of the fringe Festival of Dance Artists’ (fFIDA) Open Faces Series for newer choreographers.

“In some ways, the piece is about how I get my gloves back.”

Calvert, who last year was part of the ensemble of Nicola Pantin’s knockout dance piece Little Freedoms and the Japan-Canada exchange CJ8, created the piece after watching the football flick Any Given Sunday.

It begins with the ensemble replicating baseball catcher signs. They then mimic moves based on basketball and football drills, all the while parodying the macho ethos of the playing field.

With a brother, Jeff Calvert, formerly in the Western Hockey League, and an ex-boyfriend who’s a pro football player, Calvert knows how straight guys behave — especially in the locker room.

“They have these penis origami tricks they do, with names like the Batter and the Elephant Walk. Those are some of the cleaner things that go on there.”

As for boxing, Calvert admits she’s been obsessed with the sport since seeing the Rocky films, yet can’t watch professional boxing on TV.

“It’s way too violent,” says the Saskatchewan native. “Most of the population knows boxing through the Mike Tyson antics they don’t know about the training. I’ve taken classes at the gym, and it’s really difficult. The show is seven and a half minutes, and we’re dying. I can’t imagine being in a ring for 20 minutes.”

other ffida faces

Here are two other dance artists to look out for in fFIDA’s Open Faces series of newer choreographers, on through the weekend.

SARA CRAIG — Better known as a Juno-nominated singer, the Renaissance woman has been creating mesmerizing, intuitive dances for a few years now. Her new piece, Seek Fuel, is an improvisation-based work that includes film, sculpture, music and a couple of special guests.

JULIA TASSONYI-ROSSIGNOL — Having studied with Robert Desrosiers and Claudia Moore, multi-talented Tassonyi-Rossignol — she co-founded the recent Toronto Fringe Jazz Festival — is well equipped to premiere Traces, inspired by Jane Urquhart’s luminous novel Away. The duet, scored with piano, voice and acoustic bass, explores love and loss through several generations.

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