Young theatre artists would be hard pressed to find a more artistically rich local company to work with than Soulpepper.
Eight people from across Canada become the newest group to join the Soulpepper Academy, a year-long program that involves both training and performing, including working with company artists in the 2012 mainstage season.
The program itself has been reshaped since it began in 2006, with the first troupe of artists onboard for three years and the second for two. Last spring, members of the second Academy presented a double bill as part of Soulpepper's rep season.
The incoming artists, who will be with Soulpepper through next June, will work with Laszlo Marton, Guillermo Verdecchia, Diego Matamoros, Daniel Brooks and Leah Cherniak. As well as training and performing, they'll also have a chance to mentor youth.
Some of the 2011 Academy are people you've likely seen onstage. York grad Akosua Amo-Adem gave a break-out performance in The Middle Place and appeared in Tout Comme Elle. George Brown grad Hannah Miller performed in Pea Green's Fringe hit The Barbeque King, while Paolo Santalucia worked with Canopy Theatre.
Others in the group are Qasim Khan, Sarah Koehn, Courtney Lancaster, Justin Many Fingers and Daniel Williston.
We look forward to seeing them all on the Soulpepper stage.
Now more than ever, the biennial Dance: Made In Canada/fait au Canada series has filled the gap left by the fringe Festival of Independent Dance Artists' closure. The successful four-day fest, which wrapped up on Sunday (August 14), included a program of three curated shows as well as a visual arts exhibit, a dance film installation, classes and a late-night series.
We caught the curated programs, and they were mostly strong, perhaps because the fest asked two dance greats to help pick the artists, ensuring a diverse slate.
James Kudelka's series was especially fine, featuring excerpts from two larger works by choreographers who have a lot to say, Lina Cruz and Josh Beamish.
Montreal-based Cruz's Soupe Du Jour was a backstage dreamscape that began like a rehearsal - lights exposed, performers warming up - and then morphed into something slightly sinister, the five strong dancers appearing to defy gravity by climbing walls, standing on their heads and, in one of the more provocative sequences, stepping partly out of an outfit.
Cruz has a confident choreographic voice that's playful, soulful and profound. She was helped by Philippe Noireaut's sound design - love the sequence from Beethoven's 7th with a Latin beat beneath it - and a set that hinted at a fast-paced world out of control.
Also on the Kudelka program was Vancouver-based Beamish's Tools For Cutting, one of the most purely entertaining dance shows I've seen. Four male dancers - Beamish, Cai Glover, Jeffrey Sykes and Matthew Waldie - strutted onstage in various urban "looks." Soon they proceeded to dance with snowboards, sleds and various hockey gear.
Endlessly inventive and fun to watch, Beamish's piece was also a smart exploration of masculinity, our national pastimes and pure movement. Can't wait to see the entire show.
Peggy Baker's series also stood out. Keiko Ninomiya's self-choreographed piece, Kanan-Kiri, was a stylish and gripping homage to Balinese dance, Nami Sawada's web-like set adding layers of meaning. Heidi Strauss and Darryl Tracy reprised La Lourdeur Des Cendres, Marie-Josée Chartier's 2003 dramatic duet about a symbiotic relationship, with elements of butoh lending added gravity. And D.A. Hoskins's Excerpts From A Wet Summer proved a terrific showcase for Victoria, B.C.'s Jung-Ah Chung, a strong, confident mover who's endlessly watchable.
Planting Rhubarb sprouts
Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, gearing up for its 2011-12 season, has put out several calls for its 33rd annual Rhubarb Festival of contemporary performance, running February 8-19.
Returning festival director Laura Nanni invites artists to work in a critic-free environment where they are free to explore various possibilities for the creation, presentation and experience of performance.
The general Rhubarb call is for shows 30 minutes or shorter, especially "projects, approaches and ideas that are new territory for the artist and the medium."
In addition, the festival features some special projects. Nanni's continuing the Mobile Works series, presentations that begin somewhere in Toronto and converge at the Buddies home on Alexander Street. These include performance interventions, audio-led experiences, performances on public transit and those in which public and private spaces intersect. Participatory projects and online performances developed in the period leading up to the Rhubarb Festival that conclude in another form of presentation at Buddies are also welcome.
New this year are short, one-to-one performances involving a single performer and audience member, works that deal with "notions of intimacy and personal interaction in performance and everyday life."
Deadline for Rhubarb submissions, which must be new and original, is September 2 at 5 pm. Mail or drop them off - hard copy only, accompanied by the application form (available at buddiesinbadtimes.com) and reading fee - addressed to Laura Nanni, Rhubarb Festival Director, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander, Toronto M4Y 1B4.
For more info, contact Nanni at email@example.com or 416-975-9130 ext 58.
Young and queer?
Buddies is also looking for participants in its upcoming Young Creators Unit, under the mentorship of Evalyn Parry. The unit will be comprised of four members 25 or under, willing to meet Monday afternoons from October 24 through January 30, during which time they'll develop an original 25-minute solo show. After additional rehearsals, the shows will be performed as part of next February's Rhubarb Festival.
Deadline is September 23 at 5 pm.
For more info and an application form, see buddiesinbadtimes.com.