the Canada Dance Festival looks at things totally differently
by Maria Feldman
It’s a new era in dance ― marked by guttural movements, rapacious beats and intrepid performers. Mark these words: the urban dance movement is spreading, and is revolutionizing the traditional dance forms standing in its way.
“It’s really obvious to me that urban culture is really changing dance now,” says Brian Webb, the artistic director of the 2011 Canada Dance Festival scheduled to run June 15 to 18. “Even in ballet, for instance, you see moves that actually come from breakdancing and b-boying. And I’m really interested when people make dances that all of sudden make me look at dance totally differently, and I think that happens with the audience as well.”
Webb’s hunger for innovative and creative choreography is encapsulated in the festival’s overriding theme of “fresh voices.” He has deliberately selected a handful of under the radar choreographers, including Jacques Poulin-Denis, Helen Husak, Kevin Ormsby, The 605 Collective, Lara Kramer and Crazy Smooth, all of whom he believes have an abundant amount of talent to offer the world stage.
“These are people who have developed really strong presence in their own communities,” Webb says. “And now, through the festival, we are introducing them to a national stage, so I’m really excited for each one of them.”
Discovering new talent through the CDF is heavily rewarding for Webb, who is completing his tenure in October.
“A highlight for me,” he reflects, “is when a new artist is discovered and the festival plays a role in how we can help to build that artist’s career, and I’m confident that this year’s festival we’ll be doing the same thing.”
Webb wagers the CDF will make Poulin-Denis a household name in the world of dance. The Montreal-based choreographer is scheduled to kick start the festival with an opening one-man show, Cible de Dieu (Target of God), which documents the rise and fall of a delusional anti-hero.
But the festival would not be complete without some local flavour. To satisfy our craving, the CDF is bringing back Ottawa’s Bboyizm, a fresh and vivacious company renowned for putting a smart spin on b-boying.
Webb is proud of Bboyizm’s success and positive influence in the community. They have, he observes, ignited public interest in dance and inspired young men from Ottawa to give dancing a go. And that spirit is at the heart of the Canada Dance Festival.
“The main thing that I want to impress upon people who come to the festival,” he concludes, “is this whole concept of freshness and what that could mean: it’s a new season; it’s a new era; it’s a new group of dancers; and I think it’s a huge adventure for us all to embark on.”
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