Dance is considered the most ephemeral art form. But as Vanishing Acts: The Odyssey And Audacity Of Danny Grossman & Company showed, at least one major choreographer’s vision and spirit has been archived in style for the ages.
After the rather uneven two-part Greatest Hits package unveiled during two seasons at Harbourfront, this homage/celebration captured the ebullient personality and creative spark of the San Francisco-born dancer and choreographer, who came to Canada in 1973 after a decade with the Paul Taylor Dance Company.
In his 40-odd works, Grossman has boldly explored topics like sexuality, war and racism. An acrobatic, almost clown-like exuberance marks some of his works. These qualities were on display in Vanishing Acts, which included excerpts, a revealing 1978 interview with Grossman by dance critic Michael Crabb (both looking adorable) and, perhaps most revealing, rehearsal footage of the pieces throughout the years.
Grossman’s most ambitious piece, the astonishingly difficult Curious School Of Theatrical Dancing, got excerpted by dancers Eddie Kastrau and Michael Caldwell, and we also saw them rehearsing it as well as a motion-capture study of the work.
One of the funniest parts of the night, however, came before an excerpt from Grossman’s ironic ode to the red, white and blue, National Spirit. The 65-year-old Grossman executed a series of push-ups, showing that he’s lost none of his showmanship skills.
The event also included an amusing runway show of Grossman show costumes and a walkabout exhibit capturing the changing times and inspirations of one of the city’s – and country’s – most significant dance artists.
Theatre artists aren’t usually recognized for their body of work and long-term commitment, but, rather, for individual shows. So it’s a pleasure to report that two people are recipients of awards that acknowledge their enduring dedication to the theatre community.
Nightwood artistic director Kelly Thornton has been chosen one of the Toronto YWCA’s Women of Distinction. At a ceremony next Tuesday (June 3), Thornton receives the nod in the arts and letters category.
Producer Derrick Chua won’t get his award until the fall, when he’ll be presented with an Canadian Actors’ Equity Association honourary membership for 2008. The membership goes to someone who’s made an outstanding contribution to the performing arts. Past recipients include Tomson Highway, David and Ed Mirvish, Walter Carsen and Pauline McGibbon.
You won’t find anyone – including us – seeing more theatre in town than Chua. In addition to his other duties, he’s become a mentor to many indie companies in Toronto.
A standing ovation to both Thornton and Chua.
Seven’s a lucky number for b current. The company’s annual rock.paper.sistahz festival of works in progress has that many candles on its birthday cake.
The month-long fest concludes with a collection of readings at the who/new series, running from tonight (Thursday, May 29) through the end of the month at Theatre Passe Muraille.
You can catch different works each night, including pieces by Alicia Payne, Allison Chung, Donna-Michelle St. Bernard, Meghan Swaby and Winnipeg’s Prairie Soul Sisters, the last a show about growing up black in Winnipeg.
Other highlights include Edwige Jean-Pierre’s Saint Bitch, about the confrontation between a bitter senior and her nurse, performed by Barbara Gordon and the playwright, and Dian Marie Bridge’s Agave, loosely based on Euripides’ The Bacchae, with Raven Dauda and Louis Taylor.
Since the company’s committed to developing young talent, one event at the Saturday night show is a performance by b current’s rAiz’n ensemble.
That same night you’ll see a retrospective of some of the pieces workshopped over the past six years, among them works by Rhoma Spencer, naila belvett, Carol Anderson, Francisca Zentilli and artistic director ahdri zhina mandiela.
Here in southern Ontario we have the chance to see lots of summer Shakespeare. But the far north got little such action until DreamNorth Theatre Company mounted a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Whitehorse last year.
The company’s going back for a second season, this time staging Much Ado About Nothing, but we get to see the production before its June 13 opening there.
Directed by Craig Walker, the romantic comedy gets an outdoor staging at Fort York beginning Wednesday (June 4), with an onsite barbecue an hour before every performance. The cast includes Paula Schultz and Phil Borg in the key roles of Beatrice and Benedick.
But that’s not all the pair have to do. In this compact company, they also play Verges and Dogberry, part of the show’s comic night watch.