AND... choreography by Louis Laberge-Côté, Lincoln Shand, Marvin Vergara, Allen Kaeja and Darryl C. Tracy. Presented by 3M Dances at the Winchester Street Theatre (80 Winchester), January 9 to 11, Friday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $20, stu/srs $15, Sun pwyc. 416-889-4881.
the term "all-male dance show" takes on a whole new meaning in And..., a program of contemporary dance choreographed and performed exclusively by men. "People are really excited to see a bunch of guys onstage," says Lincoln Shand, one-third of 3M, the two-year-old troupe responsible for boosting the testosterone quotient in the dance scene.
The group was formed partly to raise the visibility of guys in the local dance milieu.
But wait one politically correct minute. Aren't the performing arts already dominated by men?
Don't men run the theatres and direct most of the plays? Don't they do stand-up more? Choreograph more? Dance more?
"If you're a male dancer, you might get more opportunities," admits Louis Laberge-Càté, "but that's only because there are fewer of us around."
Ballet companies, for one, are always crying out for more men.
"But there are more men in ballet than in contemporary," offers Shand.
Point taken. Another part of 3M's mandate is to try to redefine the idea of masculinity.
"Men are good at sports and goal-oriented things," adds Laberge-Càté, "but when it's about expresing your inner worlds, which is what dance is largely about, men have a harder time. Women are more privileged."
Case in point? Laberge-Càté's choreographed piece, a solo he originally created for a woman, deals with depression.
"We're so not used to talking about depression and men," says the Toronto Dance Theatre ensemble member.
"We talk about what men do when they get depressed. But we never explore the actual sadness.
"When I made the piece, it came from my own experience, but I choreographed it on a woman. I always thought I was letting the female part of me talk. But I thought, 'Why does it have to be female? Why can't I show suffering as a man?'"
Along with this solo, the program consists of duets by other 3M members Shand and Marvin Vergara. Guest choreographers Allen Kaeja and Darryl C. Tracy contribute new trios.
"We're so used to seeing all women onstage," says Laberge-Càté. "It happens all the time and we don't even think about it. But how often do you see something with just men? Whenever you do, the point of the piece is usually that - that they're all men."
The troupe, who come from a variety of dance and ethnic backgrounds, wanted a stylistically mixed program. Kaeja's work explores the physicality of the male form, the athleticism and competitiveness of men. Tracy's is musical in its interweaving of motifs and themes. Shand's made a philosophical piece about fate and destiny. And Vergara's more narrative work, which includes text, props and slides, explores cultural diversity and sexuality.
"When you see a man and woman onstage, you bring certain preconceptions," adds Shand, currently in the ensemble of Djanet Sears's powerful play The Adventures Of A Black Girl In Search Of God.
"But what do you see when men are together? It doesn't necessarily have to be competitive or sensual. What are those other levels? That's what we're looking at."
Will women ever be more than spectators in a 3M show?
"Last year dancer Keiko Ninomiya saw our show and said she wanted to form 3W," laughs Vergara, currently a member of the Danny Grossman Dance Company.
"And one of the things we've been considering," adds Shand, "is performing a piece with all men and then doing the same piece with all women. Just to see how we're different."