NICOLA PANTINdancer/choreographer in LITTLE FREEDOMS, PART IV Series P (5 Shorts), part of fFida (fringe festival of independent dance artists), August 16 and 19 at 11 pm, August 18 at 8 pm. $10. Buddies in Bad Times, 12 Alexander. 416-975-8555. Rating: NNNNN
we're sitting in a king west cafe, and Nicola Pantin is staring at our table. She has a history with tables. In fact, for the past couple of weeks she's been on intimate terms with a table named Maurice."I'm scared of Maurice," she says. "We've had many hissy fits together."
Maurice is a sturdy, stubborn table with an iron trumpet base, and he -- or it -- accompanies Pantin in a magical solo smack in the middle of a show called Little Freedoms that Pantin and a half-dozen other dancers/actors performed at the recent SummerWorks theatre festival.
She and Maurice are remounting and reworking a section of the show for one of the shorts programs at the fringe Festival of Independent Dance Artists (fFIDA), starting tonight (August 16).
The lean, muscular and boldly confident Pantin doesn't seem like someone who's easily intimidated.
After all, she's just come from a gold-medal-winning performance of Corpus's Flock Of Flyers at the recent international Jeux de la Francophonie.
"Oh yeah, I have some nasty bruises," says the Waterloo native in her husky voice. "But one of the reasons why Little Freedoms is alive is because it's scary. The audience feels my fear."
Pantin's table dance -- as it's come to be called -- sure has legs.
It began a few years ago as an exercise at the 8:08 Dance Series. Then it became a high point in Adam Nashman's 2000 show The 3 Degrees Cabaret. The SummerWorks show helped contextualize it, with Pantin and Irek Muchalski as a couple fighting in a bistro before Pantin, alone, dances with the table.
Apart from the choreography, one reason the scene works so well is that a director, Nashman, is involved.
A weakness of much modern dance is the absence of an outside eye, someone who realizes that dance in a theatre is different from dance in a studio. Pantin agrees.
"Amen!" she laughs. "I've asked fFIDA to make him co-choreographer of the piece."
"Without Adam, the table dance would have been a big, self-indulgent, massive rolling table with no direction.
"He can't correct me on my technique, and it's not like he's made up these moves. But he'll suggest the number of times I do a movement and tell me to "jazz it up' or "make it modern,' and I know what he's talking about.
"Jazzy means kicking my leg up high, and modern means I can do floor work. And you know what? He's right."