MUSEUM DANCES choreography by Natasha Bakht, Moving Dragon Dance Company and Soojung Kwon (CanAsian Dance Festival). At the Royal Ontario Museum (100 Queen's Park). May 14-16. Free with ROM admission. See Listings. Rating: NNNN
When in ROM... check out a dance show?[rssbreak]
That's the brilliant idea behind this year's CanAsian Dance Festival program, which turns choreographers and dancers loose among the Royal Ontario Museum's treasures, resulting in a thrilling hybrid. Think Step Up meets Night At The Museum.
Last weekend's program included three works, two of which are being repeated this final weekend.
Soojung Kwon's Lines & Composition takes place in the museum's airy, spacious rotunda. Inspired by a maebyeong, a Korean vase from the Goryeo dynasty (a shame it wasn't there to look at), the piece sizzles with drama.
Blasts of a tuba announce something ceremonial as four dancers enter, faces hidden by fans. The music (by Charles Hong and Joo Hyung Kim and performed by the Opaque Ensemble and Jeng Yi) changes mood, becomes more contemplative, and the dancers pick up speed, hypnotizing us with their circular movements, colourful skirts swirling as they navigate the area.
Natasha Bakht sets her piece, Dafeena, in the ROM's crystal room, and you're encouraged to walk around to get different views - much as you'd walk around a gem to see it sparkle from various angles. Dancers Aarti Joseph and Atri Nundy initially proceed down two aisles, stamping their feet dramatically or quietly lunging forward. Alexander MacSween's electronic score clangs and drips, suggesting hidden caves.
Chengxin Wei's Koong takes place in the program's most majestic setting: the huge Ming Tomb, with accompanying stone gate. In contemporary dress, dancers Jessica Jone and Wei himself separately enter the site, dwarfed by the structures. Gradually they meet, their sudden, shifting movements an attempt to make their mark amidst so much history. Michael Vincent's score, performed by TorQ Percussion Quartet, resonates beautifully in the space.
A breakdancing piece performed by F.A.M. replaces Koong at this weekend's performances.