ACCELERATION new choreography by kate alton, emmanuel jouthe, claudia moore and michael sean marye at Dancemakers Studio (927 Dupont), opens Wednesday (September 26) and runs to October 7, Tuesday-Sunday 8 pm, mat Sunday 2:30 pm. $18-$20, stu/srs $14-$15, Sunday pwyc. 416-535-2972. Rating: NNNNN
just about everyone in the performing arts I've talked to in the past week has questioned the purpose of what they're doing.There's the comic who told me she wished she were a doctor. The publicist who apologized for phoning me to promote her show. The dozens of actors, comics and dancers using their talents to raise funds for the Red Cross.
And then there's Kate Alton, dancer and choreographer, who's trying to cope with one of the biggest shows of her life while the world changes around her.
"In the back of my mind it's like there's this enormous catastrophe looming," says Alton, on the phone from Peterborough, where she's previewing some of the pieces in Acceleration, which opens Wednesday (September 26).
"I feel like I can't absorb it all until I have some downtime, which is impossible right now."
Alton, who's quickly risen in the local dance world since launching her first program, Necessary Risks, in 1998, has a hand in each of the six pieces on Acceleration's program.
She's choreographed three of them, and dances in works choreographed by Emmanuel Jouthe, Claudia Moore and Michael Sean Marye as well as one of her own.
The dancers, including Naoko Murakoshi, Andrea Nann and Sasha Ivanochko, range all over the ethnocultural map, a fact Alton feels is significant at a time like this.
"This disaster has raised issues around race and prejudice, and the work we're doing crosses those lines. Art, especially in a multicultural city like Toronto, embraces difference."
Appropriately, the program is a mixed bag, with several pure dance pieces, some that use text and some that coyly walk the line between dance and theatre.
Alton's especially excited about two of her pieces, The 11th Hour and The Four Horsemen Project.
"The 11th Hour is about my dreams of being a dancer as opposed to the reality," she explains. "I was trained in ballet, and received a lot of negative feedback. For years I was told I was overweight and that my body was inappropriate. My body is my body, and I've learned to accept it."
The Four Horsemen Project, on the other hand, is inspired by the legendary 1970s Canadian experimental sound poetry troupe. Not only does Alton's choreography try to visually match the rhythms of the nonsense words, but the performers themselves have to replicate the sounds.
"It's got a mathematical complexity, but it's also silly. I can't imagine anyone not enjoying that piece."
Acceleration -- the title could well stand for Alton's career -- has a run of 13 shows, about three times the performances of most dance shows.
"You can't build an audience in a weekend," says Alton, no stranger to sold-out runs. "For work to grow and audiences to spread word of mouth, you need more performances. Dance artists have to start taking our place in the arts scene in Toronto and give people a chance to appreciate what we're doing. It benefits everybody."