On stage: dance in every dimension

What’s happening this week in the dance, including dance-related FIFA screenings, the double header of Danz and Toot and Isabelle Van Grimde’s Les Gestes.

Ohad Naharin’s Danz. Photo by Jesus Vallinas.

A round-up of what’s happening in dance this week, including new live shows and a preview of dance films at FIFA.

Dance in 2D

With the opening of the International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA) this week, dance and film lovers can easily get their two-for-one fix.  Covering a wide range of movement genres, the art fest has a hearty dose of dance films included in its 31st edition.

First up, in the feature-lengths, Virtuosi definitely caught my attention. This beautifully creative film by choreographer Sue Healy spotlights dancers from New Zealand and traces their trajectories abroad. In this doc, which is screening in competition, Healy captures the Kiwi spirit, wit and originality through landscapes and creative stop-motion scenarios.

If you are a fan of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, you might be interested in taking in Rain, a French-Belgian production that documents a work from its beginnings to the onstage performance. Her intricate oeuvre of the same name is set to the rhythmic, minimalist score of Steve Reich. The Dutch film The Ballet Masters illustrates how a ballet is handed down from one generation to the next, while Merce Cunningham, La Danse en Héritage, shows the American choreographer’s quest to keep his works alive. Joffrey: Mavericks of American Dance chronicles the history of the titular company with interviews from its late founders Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino.

Check out the Diagonals program for a goldmine of local and international dance films. In the Swiss film Aller et retour, a couple has their last supper, while Momentum tells the quirky story of Patrick and how he discovered he could dance, thanks to a tortilla chip. Also worth checking out are American short The Stronger, by New York-based choreographer Gabrielle Lansner and Ce sont eux, a poetic look at three generations of dancers in the Quebec contemporary dance scene.  Long-time dance production company Mouvement Perpetuel premières Dafeena, a screen adaptation of a site-specific work by Indian contemporary choreographer Natasha Bakht.

The International Festival of Films on Art runs March 14-24.

Dance in 3D

Les Grands Ballets Canadiens launches a double bill this week, featuring Toot by Dutch choreographer Didy Veldman, who created the seemingly upbeat work for the Montreal company back in 2005.

For the piece, Veldman was initially inspired by the life and music of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. In particular, his “Suite For Jazz Orchestra No. 2” drew her in, she says, because of its “ironic, light-hearted score.” This week, she has returned to Montreal to remount the piece, which confronts societal conformity through clownish characters. “I wanted to have a mirror to society,” Veldman says, alluding to war on television and people playing violent video games.

“There is a war section, and they are all shooting each other with water guns; there is a light-heartedness to the scene. We become so far removed, we don’t feel the pain anymore,” she elaborates.

“I like taking the audience on an emotional journey,” Veldman reveals. “I quite like the mirror effect of being on stage as artists, showing ourselves and what’s going on in the world. People can go home and think about what they have seen.”

The evening opens with Danz, a choreographic retrospective by Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin, master of the choreographic collage. The ensemble piece draws from five of Naharin’s works that were created between 1999-2007 and remixes them into a new entity, set to an eclectic soundtrack that oscillates between classical to rock. Danz & Toot, March 14-23, Place des Arts (Théâtre de Maisonneuve), 8 p.m., $12-$100

Lastly, at Agora de la Danse this week, choreographer Isabelle Van Grimde mixes dance and live music with Les Gestes. Continuing in her exploration in movement and sound, for this choreographic concert, a cellist, violinist and a pair of dancers, who are equipped with a complex system of digital musical instruments, create sounds and rhythms that are processed and transformed. Les Gestes, March 13-16, Agora de la Danse (840 Cherrier), 8 p.m., $20-$28


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