A DANCE TRIBUTE TO THE ART OF FOOTBALL choreographed by Jo Strømgren (World Stage). At the Fleck Dance Theatre (207 Queens Quay West). To April 13, 8 pm. $15-$35. 416-973-4000. See listing. Rating: NN
Jo Strømgren's A Dance Tribute To The Art Of Football has been touring the world for more than 15 years, and it's easy to see why. Soccer is insanely popular, and arts programmers must be salivating at the opportunity to woo stadium-sized crowds to their modest concert dance seasons.
So it's a shame that the show itself, a sequence of vignettes featuring four footballers (Jan Nicolai Wesnes, Mikkel Are Olsenlund, Maria Henriette Nygård and Geir Hytten) warming up, strutting, playing and (eventually) showering, doesn't score more artistic points.
Sure, Strømgren lets us appreciate the athletic grace involved in the sport as the dancer-players arc through the air as if in slow motion. And audiences will get a kick out of the anthropology lesson in the players swaggering, grandstanding and (in one case) grinding their hips to establish dominance on the "field."
But apart from these and a few clown turns involving bossy coaches or meandering soccer balls, there's not much variety to the movement.
Some sequences hint at darker elements. There's the suggestion of homophobia when one player kisses another and the kisser is threatened with a punch. And a bit about a group of balaclava-wearing players thrashing about to heavy metal evokes the rabid hysteria of football fans.
But there's a lack of tension and structure, and mixing up rock music with a Donizetti aria is a cheap way of switching moods.
Plus, what should be a big reveal about one of the players surprises no one, it's been telegraphed so bluntly throughout.