ROBERTO CAMPANELLA choreographing and performing as part of the fFIDA INTERNATIONAL DANCE FESTIVAL Grande Scale Gala and Event, w/ Michelle Silagy, Esmeralda Enrique Dance Theatre, Kayt Lucas Unbridled Aerial Works, Newton Moraes Dance Company and others , August 18 (hosted by Veronica Tennant), August 19-20 at 8 pm. $22-$45. 416-214- 5854, 416-504-7529, www.ffida.org. Rating: NNNNN
The Grande Scale gala and event is the big showcase of the fFIDA International Dance Fest. It's part cabaret and part circus, all wrapped up in a busy, noisy, colourful package at the Distillery District's Fermenting Room.
It's not the sort of show you'd normally associate with poetry.
But in 9 Sentiments, a collaboration with poet Michael Ondaatje, choreographer/dancers Roberto Campanella, Robert Glumbeck and their company, ProArte Danza, present a piece that should provide a nice contrast to the flashy aerial dancing, flamenco and more that rounds out the Grande Scale bill.
"The nine sentiments are found in Indian love poetry, and they correspond to emotional experiences like the romantic, the erotic, the angry, the heroic and so on," explains Campanella, who first mounted the piece four years ago.
A recording of the poet reciting the work - from his recent collection Handwriting - is integrated with the movement and Rick Hyslop's music.
"We're trying to get to the essence of these sentiments," says Campanella. "The writing is so imagistic, so vivid. So of course some of that has to come out. But we're not aiming for a literal translation."
The piece has been adapted for film - it's one of the segments in Veronica Tennant's award-winning dance movie Shadow Pleasure. And through every step of the work, Ondaatje has continued to collaborate, acting as artistic consultant.
"He's got a commanding but gentle presence," says Campanella. "He gave us so much freedom to interpret the poem. I think it's been a mutual exchange. He's dived into this art form, and we've learned a lot about poetry."
That collaboration extends to the cast, which includes modern dance experts like Glumbeck and classically trained dancers like recent National Ballet of Canada retiree Martine Lamy and Campanella himself, once with the National.
"In Italy, where I trained, there was no difference between ballet and modern," says Campanella, who remounts a full ProArte program that includes a more elaborate production of 9 Sentiments this fall at the Betty Oliphant.
"We'd all do shows together. There weren't these labels. So this feels kind of like childhood now."