Picking Pecker

series 8:08 season finale with choreography by d.a. hoskins, rebecca hope terry, robin calvert and barbara baltus pallomina at Dancemakers.

series 8:08 season finale with choreography by d.a. hoskins, rebecca hope terry, robin calvert and barbara baltus pallomina at Dancemakers Studio (927 Dupont), Thursday to Saturday (May 30-June 1) at 8:08 pm. $15, stu/srs $12. 416-504-6429 ext 40.

Rating: NNNNN

D.A. Hoskins is back. after an absence of a few years, the edgy indie choreographer who’s unafraid of taking on taboo topics is gradually stepping back into the Toronto dance scene. Is he ready? And are we?”I’ve been working away, checking out the scene, and I’ve realized that it’s time to be not so precious about the corporate reality of dance, or the media’s response,” says Hoskins, who’s kept busy with commissions from groups like the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and the Penderecki String Quartet. He was also resident choreographer with Dancetheatre David Earle.

His work Crave debuted last December in a mixed program, and for a guy known for his sculptural, formal moves, it signalled a different aesthetic.

Utilizing everything from a video monitor about body image to a plastic baby doll, Crave was unabashedly theatrical. Sure, it snaked around themes of sexuality and repression, which he’s dealt with before, but the approach was immediate and relevant, adjectives you don’t normally apply to contemporary dance.

“I’ve set up exercises to re-inspire myself,” he admits. “When I started creating dance, I was very inspired by the modern dance idiom, but then I started tiring of it. I’m focusing now on sensory expressionism. I’ve had to think about what’s affecting me — the media, TV, cyberland. Today’s aesthetic is very different. How we feel is different.”

Hoskins’s new piece, part of the Series 8:08 season finale program, is called Woodpecker it surfaced in a different form last year at an arts summer school gig in BC. Originally choreographed for an ensemble, it’s been redeveloped as a duet for Danielle Baskerville and Mike Moore, and touches on themes of parental nourishment, scolding, caring and taunting.

Hoskins laughs off the homoerotic connotations of the title, although he jokes that pretty much everything is sexually suggestive to him. He spent time in Stanley Park, listening to woodpeckers in the forest. Some of the physical movements have a birdlike quality.

Hoskins hasn’t mounted a full-length local show since 1997’s Mortality Songs, a fundraiser for the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation. He’d like to take some of his recent work, including the commissions, and put something together.

Last month he worked on Serge Bennathan’s choreography for the opera Julius Caesar.

“I didn’t know Serge before, but now I’m probably going to attack him and ask him for space, ask him to give me Dancemakers for a weekend. I’m hungry to present work. This year I want to reinvest in the work I’ve done and show stuff that hasn’t been seen here before.”glenns@nowtoronto.com

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