PLANETARIUM choreography by Debbie Wilson, presented by OMO Dance Company at the Premiere Dance Theatre (207 Queen's Quay West), opens Wednesday (February 5) and runs to February 8 at 8 pm. $25, stu $20, srs/child $18, opening night $30 (benefit for Lymphoma Foundation Canada). 416-973-4000. Rating: NNNNN
Choreographer Debbie Wilson is used to collaborating, but even she agrees that her latest piece is something of a logistical nightmare.Planetarium involves eight dancers from Wilson's own troupe, the local contemporary OMO Dance Company, and seven from the classically trained Macedonian National Theatre. Two designers are Macedonian, two are Canadian.
Different languages, different styles, different aesthetics... and, oh yeah, did I mention that the groups live an ocean apart?
"Normally, when I work on something, I have a clear idea from the start where I'm going, but this piece flowed all over the place," says the energetic Wilson a week before the work's debut at the Premiere Dance Theatre.
No wonder. Last year she travelled twice to Macedonia to select dancers and work on the piece, introducing movements that the performers would only get to dance with their Canadian counterparts months later.
"The attitude of most ballet dancers is, "I'll be whatever you want,'" she says, comparing the classically trained Macedonians to her own modern dancers. "They wait for every bit of direction. I chose dancers not just for their technical abilities but also for their personalities. I want them to be able to walk across the room like themselves, not like a swan."
Wilson first got the idea for the piece after seeing an abstract painting by the work's designer, Kiro Urdin. Urdin has taken his painting to more than 30 countries, adding dabs of colour in each new locale.
"It's a painting that looks like the world -- all those bits of colour represent a little group, or a bunch of flowers in a garden," says Wilson, who sees in its socio-political concerns a reflection of the kind of work she's done at OMO.
In July, Wilson and OMO will travel to the Macedonian towns of Skopje and Ohrid, but there'll be a bitter taste leaving Canada.
After all, the Macedonian ministry of culture is supporting the work, while three levels of Canadian arts funding said no.
"Mind-boggling," she sighs. "The criteria the councils use to decide who they'll fund are wrong. We've raised $36,000 through donations and fundraising. That's $36,000 worth of support by real people. To me, that outweighs the subjective opinions of five."firstname.lastname@example.org