ADELHEID SOLOS choreography by Heidi Strauss. Presented by DanceWorks at the Enwave Theatre (231 Queens Quay West), tonight through Saturday (Thursday, April 24 to April 26) at 8 pm. $17-$27. 416-973-4000. Rating: NNNNN
Singers routinely perform their well-known songs in concert. Theatre companies remount plays all the time. And some comics keep perfecting their best jokes over an entire career.
So pity the independent dance artist, who – because of grant application requirements – is often prevented from re-examining earlier work.
All of which makes Heidi Strauss’s Adelheid Solos a reason to cheer. The double bill of Strauss solos combines a new work, Ohne, with a reworked version of Das Martyrium, the exquisite piece she created back in 2002 with design genius Jan Komarek.
“It’s matured in a certain way, like a child,” says Strauss about Martyrium, which was inspired by the story of Joan of Arc.
“Maybe because I’m older, there’s a bit less innocence in the character,” she says in her typically candid and searching fashion. “I also feel like there’s more clarity in the journey, more specificity in the reasons why certain sections are there.”
Strauss, Komarek (returning for the show from his base in Prague) and collaborators Jeremy Mimnagh and Andre du Toit let me sit in on a rehearsal recently, and the contrast between the two pieces was stunning. As was the dance.
Where Martyrium is otherworldly and steeped in the past, Ohne feels stark and contemporary. The two provide a great showcase for Strauss’s versatility as a performer and choreographer.
“For Ohne I was inspired by the idea of starting over,” says Strauss. “It’s about making choices, maybe not always making the right ones, failing and succeeding. I was thinking about the different expectations that I have and the audience has.
“In German, Ohne means ‘without.’ I was initially exploring the idea of loss of control, and it’s since become a lot about rediscovering the child within. You forget about her. Or at least I forgot about her.”
Don’t worry if you’ve forgotten about Strauss herself. She’s spent a lot of time in Montreal and Europe, dancing, choreographing and directing.
Highlights included performing in Guillaume Bernardi’s Frankfurt production of Marc Neikrug’s opera Through Roses, as well as directing rehearsals for Ginette Laurin’s acclaimed troupe O Vertigo.
“As an independent dance artist, you have to have the kind of flexibility to go where the work that interests you lies,” she says. “I’ve been lucky so far. But being back in Toronto makes me want to stay here longer.”
In fact, she’s sticking around this summer to work with her Four Chambers Dance Project partner Darryl Tracy on a summer school program that’ll end with a student performance.
“We’re trying to fill the gap that all the disappearing dance festivals has left,” she says. “Many younger artists don’t know what it means to be an independent dance artist, and there are so few opportunities to present their work. That’s partly what the summer school is trying to address.”