The big theatres might not be full of dance in the summer, but the indie scene is alive and well in parks, warehouses and other alternative venues. Here are some shows and people making major moves this season.
Claudia Moore is like the Woody Allen of contemporary dance. She tends to use the same ensemble of performers to explore whatever's on her mind. Her latest, CASA, is inspired by Peter Carey's novel True History Of The Kelly Gang. Described as "butoh-esque Tennessee Williams," the work looks at family passions. Moore regulars Fiona Drinnan, Bonnie Kim and Miko Sobreira dance to a live score by composer Rainer Weins. If that's not enough, Vancouver's Lola MacLaughlin contributes a solo piece for Moore inspired by a Velázquez painting. June 12 to 22 at the Theatre Centre (1087 Queen West). 416-504-7529.
Fringe on top
The best way to check out the thriving indie scene is the annual fringe Festival of Independent Dance Artists (fFIDA). This year it takes place at three theatres - the Winchester (80 Winchester), Buddies in Bad Times (12 Alexander) and the new Dancemakers' Studio in the Distillery complex (55 Mill). Local artists include Christopher House, D.A. Hoskins, Jessica Runge, Lucy Rupert, Viv Moore, Graham McKelvie, Samara Thompson and Parahumans Dance Theatre. Look for artists from five other countries, including Japan fringe fave Mari Osanai and Nigeria's Yemi Akintokun. August 5 to 16. 416-410-4291.
Two of the most exciting local dance companies - Kathleen Rea's REAson d'etre and Kaeja d'Dance - split the bill in Vivid 2003. Rea, Karen Kaeja and Sheila Muir present premieres, and there's an excerpt from a new Allen Kaeja piece. The dancers are among the city's best, including Yvonne Ng, Lisa Otto, Karen Kaeja, Tanya Crowder, Mark Christmann, Susan Lee and Tim Spronk. The pieces are unveiled July 2 to 5 at the Winchester. 416-454-1515.
If you like your summer dance with an ethnic kick, check out two consecutive weekends at Harbourfront's World's Fare. You'll get to see Chilean folk dancing by Grupo Chile; Marcio Mendes and Muiraquita in a capoiera dance workshop and demo (it's a fascinating art combining dance and martial arts, with roots in Africa, Europe and Brazil); Toronto's own Brazilian export, Newton Moraes Dance Theatre, the Inuit Cultural Performers and lots more. Between performances, nibble on food from many countries. Yum. July 10 to 20. Harbourfront Centre (235 Queen's Quay West). 416-973-4000.
Who says ballet is stuffy and expensive? The National Ballet of Canada's annual Ballet By The Water series is free of charge and performed al fresco. This summer's lineup includes the world-class company dancing George Balanchine's Apollo, Antony Tudor's Judgement Of Paris, Eliot Feld's Intermezzo and excerpts from August Bournonville's Napoli. Makes a great romantic date. August 19 to 21 at Harbourfront Centre's Outdoor Stage (235 Queen's Quay West). 416-973-4000.
One of the most exciting monthly events is Series 8:08, where choreographers try out ideas in an informal performance atmosphere. The season finale brings together a curated program of some of the year's best pieces, this time by Denise Duric, Eryn Dace Trudell, Barbara Lindenberg and Julie Lebel. See the moves here before they reach the city's mainstages. June 5 to 7 at Dancemakers' Studio (927 Dupont). 416-504-6429 ext 40.
The coolest outdoor dance event has got to be the annual Dusk Dances, where choreographers take over the city's parks while pedestrians and their pets walk by wondering what all the fuss and fun is about. This year's happens July 8 to 13 and includes a new piece by the hard-working Yvonne Ng called Serpentine Garden. Dufferin Grove Park.
Arts and sciences
Left- and right-hemisphere folks share the bill in Shared Habitat 2, a fest that combines dance, visual art, music, film and... biology. Choreographers include Maxine Heppner, Rebecca Todd and Eryn Dace Trudell, Bill James and Geraldine Manossa. The performances and installations explore issues like memory and perception and the environment - appropriate, since the backdrop is a Dufferin warehouse. Expect lots of thinking outside the loft. June 11 to 21. 376 Dufferin. 416-504-7529.