DUSK DANCES with choreography by Jenn Goodwin and Company Blonde, Heather Hammond, Malgorzata Nowacka, Lata Pada and Elena Quah, through July 24 at Dufferin Grove Park (Dufferin south of Bloor). Also August 2 to 7 with choreography by Selam Teclu, Teddy Masuku, Nova Bhattacharya, Goodwin, Sarah Doucet and Lisa Odjig, at Driftwood Park (Driftwood north of Finch). Pwyc. 7 pm (band), 7:30 pm (shows). 416-516-4025, www.corpus.ca. Rating: NNNNN
Come summertime, audiences don't like sitting and sweating in theatres, whatever the A/C situation. Same thing with dancers, who sizzle under those bright lights like insects drawn to a flame.
So al fresco performances make sense. But isn't it just as bad during a heat wave?
"Not necessarily," says Jenn Goodwin, who's choreographing and performing in Dusk Dances' two outdoor T.O.-area dance programs, the first at Dufferin Grove Park, the second (in early August) in the Jane/Finch area's Driftwood Park.
"The main thing about performing outdoors is that everything gets a little grungier and a little dirtier."
For the Driftwood show, Goodwin's remounting two of her best-known works, Stink and (co-choreographed with Sarah Doucet) Sneaker. Stink includes being in a harness and hanging from various tree branches, while Sneaker - a look at hitchhiking - involves interacting with traffic.
"Sneaker's success depends on how busy a street is," she points out. "You don't want to get killed or have any dancer maimed if there's too much traffic. But you want some cars there. The cars become part of the performance, although they don't know it until they drive past."
Goodwin's new commission for the Dufferin Grove Park space is for the local troupe Company Blonde, who combine humour, whimsy and great dance technique. Goodwin says the piece - called There Goes The Neighbourhood - reminds her of the TV series Desperate Housewives, although she conceived of it before the show began.
"I know the suburbs - I grew up in Burlington," she says. "The houses look the same and moms are in the same outfits, but something's bubbling beneath the picture-perfect look."
Goodwin got the dancers to create a to-do list for their characters. On the list are things like "run 10 K, stare at the pool boy, do yoga, meditate. "
"Through all that, movement developed and the characters grew."
There's also lots of room for laughter, which Goodwin, who's choreographed for nightclubs and film, sees as important.
"I'm all about making work accessible, and humour helps," she says. "We have this great opportunity to bring dance to the audiences rather than waiting for audiences to come to a theatre. Sometimes we get crowds of up to 1,000 a night. I love that.
"How many modern dancers can reach those numbers?"