THE WHOLE SHEBANG Presented by Andrea Nann Dreamwalker Dance Company in association with Harbourfront Centre’s NextSteps at the Enwave (231 Queens Quay West). Thursday-Saturday (May 8-10) at 8 pm. $20-$35. 416-973-4000. Rating: NNNNN
If you think Toronto’s the centre of Canada’s dance universe, think again. During the smoking-hot troupe Holy Body Tattoo’s recent tours, places like Guelph and Brampton (!) got to see them instead of us. What’s up with that?
“We couldn’t get the shows booked anywhere in Toronto,” says Dana Gingras, one-half of Holy Body, on the phone from Montreal. “Many factors played into it. Timing. Lack of presenters. It’s really unfortunate.”
But thanks to The Whole Shebang, Andrea Nann’s annual smorgasbord of eclectic programming, Toronto fans will be able to see what the always inventive Gingras has been up to apart from HBT. Included in the program is Chain Reaction, a duet from Gingras’s Smash Up, which plays in its entirely at Montreal’s Festival Transamérique at the end of the month.
The excerpt, danced by Gingras and Sarah Doucet, employs computer animation by James Paterson and Amit Pitaru and electronic music by Roger Tellier-Craig.
“It’s hard to say what came first,” says Gingras, about the choreography and the animation, much of which consists of what she calls “roadkill shapes” that are projected from above onto the floor of the stage area.
“James and I knew early on that we wanted to use the overhead projections,” she says. “We had the idea of seeing these images from a bird’s eye view. It gives the audience a unique perspective.”
In the piece, she and Doucet seem to chase the animation and link up with it.
“What’s fun is that between performances we can actually go into the editing program and move pieces around however we want, to alter the shape and flow of the work.”
Gingras has been spending a lot of time recently with new technology. She got a grant to research dance and wire work – choreographing using green screen and motion capture techniques – and last year she choreographed for a video game.
Ironically, she says working with computers has brought her back to the basics of dance.
“Smash Up has made me think about time, space, velocity, dynamics, proximity and depth,” she says. “These are all the tools you try to manipulate and stretch in dance.”
So far, there haven’t been technical glitches during any of her multimedia performances. She’s crossing her fingers.
“If a program crashes, it’s just Sarah and me onstage,” she laughs. “We’re very dependent on it running smoothly. With a big show we’ll always bring backup.”