Sunday, July 8, 2012

Lukas Press and Kokus: 2012 Toronto Fringe Festival Dance Preview


For the past 8 months choreographers Rebecca Reinhart and Lukas Press have been focused solely on the creation of NUMBERS, their contribution through Kokus to the 2012 Toronto Fringe Festival Dance Initiative. 
No light task, NUMBERS is inspired by WWII and Lukas’ heritage as Polish Jew. Growing up in Poland and Israel, he heard many first-hand stories from survivors of WWII and the Holocaust.

“That part of history has always fascinated me for the atrocities committed to so many innocent people and the rest of the world was practically clueless to it.”

Lukas cites ‘amazingly dedicated’ fellow performers and creators who shared their vision along the way with this project.  Lukas undertook immense research, as did many of his collaborators and they spent a lengthy time discussing what they had discovered, comparing impressions and ideas. His process is clearly rooted in the team, open communication, strong work ethic and dedication to the project.

“ [The creative process] also involved asking the dancers to challenge their roles and abilities and we’ve all been really blessed with an amazing rapport.” Lukas says.

Lukas took on the Toronto Fringe because it had been a dream to be part of the festival and he wanted to challenge himself.

“I would describe my work as a constant work in progress.  There is always room for growth and further research and further implementation of that research and knowledge into the creative process… What is brought to life on stage isn’t stagnant –that is, it isn’t final, really.”

For many young creators, the idea of an un-fixed work might be daunting. But not so for Lukas.

“I believe in the dynamics of art and creation and expression – it’s as if we’re always looking and searching for a way to relate, communicate and reach out to our fellow humans.
By: Lukas Press
Company: KOKUS
Company origin: Toronto, ON
Director: Lukas Press
Choreographer: Lukas Press, Rebecca Reinhart, Kay-Ann Ward and Toronto's best choreographers
Cast: KOKUS Company featuring Toronto's top dancers, performers, and visual artists. Acclaimed artist,Rhonda Nolan, will be doing a live action painting in each show that will be auctioned off after show.
Show length: 60min.
This performance is accessible for non-English speakers

venue

show times

July 06 07:00 PM
July 07 12:00 PM
July 09 06:45 PM
July 11 11:00 PM
July 12 05:45 PM
July 14 05:45 PM
July 15 01:45 PM
at-the-door tickets ($10)
advance tickets
($9 + $2 service charge)
Available up to three hours prior to the start of a performance: Online at www.fringetoronto.com
By Phone at 416-966-1062
July 2nd – 15th, daily, 9:30am – 6:30pm
In person at the Festival Box Office
July 4th – 15th, 12 – 10pm @ The Fringe Club, 581 Bloor St. W.
Value Packs:
5 Pack ($45) – savings of $510 Pack ($82) – savings of $18!more info: www.fringetoronto.com

Patricia Allison at the Toronto Fringe Festival 2012 Dance Preview


Patricia Allison returns to the Toronto Fringe Festival in (with)out, a collaborative work with musician James Everett.
Patricia trained in contemporary dance at LADMMI in Montreal, but she has always been interested in the relationship between dance and theatre, movement and storytelling. She has freelanced as a dancer, choreographed musicals, collaborated with writers on theatre projects – seeking out the potential of complete performance in which all the disciplines are utilized their fullest.

In dance-theatre, Patricia feels the most at home, the most free to explore abstraction and absurdity next to plot lines and narrative.

Patricia has, aside from (with)out, two other projects on the go that involve movement for non-dancers -- a series of short solos created with local Toronto actors and an internship with Karen Kaeja (Kaeja d'Dance) on the community based project called Porch View Dances premiering the week after Fringe closes.
(with)out is firmly entrenched in a collaboration with music.

“I had worked with James [Everett] in the past and at that time was introduced to some of his music. I fell in love with it. I approached him about working on a show together, with the core concept of illustrating the stages of grief and he was really into it.”

Once their names were drawn for the Toronto Fringe, they found a lot of common ground in early development: the need to be storytellers, the need to be honest in performance, and also honest in its development: “to present a journey that arrived at it's destination honestly.” Patricia explains.

Patricia describes her process as “process”, a never-ending path of redefining, trying new things, developing new collaborative relationships.

“I might give the dancers a task for the day.  ‘today show me what anxiety looks like.’ Then they are given a time, say two hours. They are given crayons, paints, markers, lined paper, blank paper, they can use their bodies, they have James in space to create music and sounds. When they come to something that they feel needs to be shared or it gets to a time when they want feedback, I am there to support them.”

At this point Patricia says she allows her influence to slowly enter the room, while she distills the content created by her dancers into a story, a sequence of choreography, a show that is ready for an audience.

“I am blown away by everything that I was privileged to have witnessed for those weeks in the studio and feel so confident that we have brought the best parts of it to this show.” She says.

(with)out is a journey of joy, loss and redemption, standard but powerful fare. Patricia aims to work with movement, sound, lyric, dance and “the murky areas between” in a way that links deeply personal moments of the performers in a raw, live way. She hopes that audiences feel they need nothing to witness this piece but acceptance of the human condition and solace with the shared experience of being there.
To find audiences that fit these open-hearted parameters, Patricia feels the Fringe is the right way to go.
“I grew up with Fringe and thrive in an environment where expectation is that a show will be weird, non-traditional and, as the festival title suggests, on the “fringe” of mainstream work. It’s a really great outlet to plug into and allow creative freedom to follow.”

With innovative projects in the near future, clearly Patricia is not at a loss for inspiration or motivation to continue.

“One of the most liberating and important decisions I ever made in my life was deciding that creating art wasn’t a career, it was a way of life. The truth of the matter is that I create nearly every day. With or with out money, with or with out recognition it’s what I do and who I am. I had to come to a place where I accepted that in myself. If I could walk away I would, but it’s who and what I am. There is no other option.”

By: Patricia Allison and James Everett
Company: LastName FirstName Productions
Company origin: Toronto, ON
Choreographer: Patricia Allison
Show length: 60min.
Warnings: Mature Language
This performance is accessible for non-English speakers

venue

show times

July 04 06:30 PM
July 06 10:30 PM
July 08 08:45 PM
July 11 12:00 PM
July 12 07:30 PM
July 13 11:00 PM
July 15 12:00 PM


at-the-door tickets ($10)
advance tickets
($9 + $2 service charge)
Available up to three hours prior to the start of a performance: Online at www.fringetoronto.com
By Phone at 416-966-1062
July 2nd – 15th, daily, 9:30am – 6:30pm
In person at the Festival Box Office
July 4th – 15th, 12 – 10pm @ The Fringe Club, 581 Bloor St. W.
Value Packs:
5 Pack ($45) – savings of $510 Pack ($82) – savings of $18!more info: www.fringetoronto.com

Saturday, July 7, 2012




Limitless Productions return to the Toronto Fringe Festival with another show – Sex, Bollywood and Other Lies -- that provokes the edges of South Asian and contemporary dance. Here’s a six-question Q and A with co-choreographers Ashima Suri and Imran Mohammed and the company.
Lucy: Can you tell me a bit about Limitless’ history, what you've been up to lately?

Limitless: Limitless Productions began in 2007 as an inclusive contemporary dance company that aimed to include people of various abilities and disabilities in performance art to prompt dialogue.  Over time we have evolved into an Indo-Contemporary Dance Theatre company that deals with various social and personal issues not just to prompt dialogue but also to encourage social change.

While earlier our dances and presentations dealt with topics of disabilities, hidden disabilities and personal stories of dealing with adversities, we have been expanding our scope to include taboo social issues such as abuse, bullying, gender politics, sexuality and essential topics such as the immigrant experience, communal unrest, self-acceptance.

With Sex, Bollywood and Other Lies (SBOL) we aim to sexually empower young women just as much as the men and to acknowledge their true feelings towards a sexual experience without feeling the guilt and shame associated with sex.  This topic is especially relevant for the long-suffering and self-sabotaging South Asian community whose youth have been victimized by its own regressive attitude towards sex, sexuality and gender roles.

SBOL also deals with the lies we tell ourselves to avoid having to face our own realities and vulnerabilities in order to meet the expectations others put on us.

Lucy: How did the concept for this show evolve?

Limitless: It came from our individual personal experiences within the Bollywood-centric South Asian communities.  While most of us were considered the "exceptions" and "outsiders" within our own community, this dance drama focuses on the expectations that the "insiders" or "those that belong" have to face on a day-to-day basis, regardless of how unreasonable those expectations may be.

In addition to parental and societal pressures, the South Asian youth (or youth from any other community) add unfair expectations upon themselves to conform to a certain look, persona, style, habit or pressure to achieve someone else's dream and be "successful" much like their on-screen Bollywood idols.

In order to cope with these pressures, the youth begin to create a non-existent utopia in their own minds where the universe revolves around them, fostering a sense of entitlement, false pride and unrealistic notions of relationships, intimacy and romance.

In particular, the young women suffer from low-self esteem, low sense of self and disempowered because they are required to be in constant denial of their own wishes, desires and pleasures.

Lucy: What was your creative process like for Sex, Bollywood and Other Lies?

Limitless: Since Bollywood and its effects on life in conjunction with societal pressures together were being considered for this project, we began with brainstorming all the different incidents and experiences we had been through within this context.

We matched these incidents with the specific instances in Bollywood movies and songs that made these situations even more so effective.  We then deliberated upon what should happen in an ideal situation where there was no judgement and humans were allowed to just be.  From this scenario arose the resolution of the play.

The stories of the two main characters Raj and Trishna are based upon collective experiences and personalities of people we had come across in our lives and episodes from our own lives.

Lucy: What was the inspiration/approach to put your work on its feet in the Fringe Festival format?

Limitless: Limitless Productions focuses on many sensitive topics that are seen as taboo in the South Asian culture.  Topics on bullying, sexuality, sex etc have generally not been highlighted in South Asian focused arts and entertainment industry. Because our topics are very cross cultural and our cast is diverse (in terms of background, age and sizes), we were inspired to submit to the Fringe.

Limitless Productions loves working with The Fringe Festival as it is inclusive of all works and is highly supportive in building emerging dance/theatre based companies and letting our stories be heard.

Lucy: How would you relate or describe your work to the more regular Fringe-goer who might not normally go see dance?

The beauty, subtlety and strength of contemporary ballet are perfectly complemented with the lyrical, symbolic , grounded and swift movements, gestures and poses of Indian Classical dances (Bharatanatyam and Kathak) to ensure that the specific idea, intent, message and feelings are fully conveyed to the audience.

We have placed each one of the dances just around the dialogue pieces and monologues so that there is a context for each dance.  SBOL is a play punctuated with properly choreographed and rehearsed dance sequences.  Each dance either helps move the plot along or helps convey a specific emotion or idea.

Since we deal with very serious, valid and important issues, we take no chances in ensuring that audiences with ANY background fully understand the intent and message of the show.

Lucy: What inspires you to keep making, creating, producing, performing?

Limitless: What inspires me to keep creating is knowing that a message is being conveyed and being heard. That a story is being told that could impact not only the artists but also the audience members.  We continue to believe and focus on our art as being a way to create dialogue and change.

We love what we do as artists and to be able to create, choreograph and perform is an absolute privilege and gift.  As producers, we are inspired by giving other artists the same opportunity to express themselves.


By: Ashima Suri
Director: Ashima Suri
Choreographer: Ashima Suri
Guest Choreographer: Imran Mohammed
Show length: 60min.
Warnings: Sexual Content
This performance is accessible for non-English speakers
venue
show times
July 05 11:00 PM
July 07 09:15 PM
July 09 06:30 PM
July 10 05:00 PM
July 11 07:30 PM
July 13 11:00 PM
July 14 04:00 PM
Genre(s): Dance, Drama
at-the-door tickets ($10)
advance tickets
($9 + $2 service charge)
Available up to three hours prior to the start of a performance: Online at www.fringetoronto.com
By Phone at 416-966-1062
July 2nd – 15th, daily, 9:30am – 6:30pm
In person at the Festival Box Office
July 4th – 15th, 12 – 10pm @ The Fringe Club, 581 Bloor St. W.
Value Packs:
5 Pack ($45) – savings of $510 Pack ($82) – savings of $18! more info: www.fringetoronto.com

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Olga Barrios and the Farewells: 2012 Toronto Fringe Festival Dance Preview


Olga Barrios and Remembering the Farewells at the 2012 Toronto Fringe Festival is a must-see as far as I’m concerned. I met Olga at the  Guelph Contemporary Dance Festival in 2010 and although I only saw part of her work in technical rehearsal (we were sharing a program) it was clear to me from that and her loveliness backstage, that she is a striking artist.
Born and raised in Colombia, Olga started dancing in a formal setting as a teenager. She pursued another path in her early adulthood but went back to dance, studying Scenic Arts in Bogotá. She dove into diverse dance styles: ballet, jazz, modern, afro, Colombian folklore, flamenco, and also acting. She co-founded Blancoscuro Dance Company, an experimental and site-specific dance troupe in Colombia in 1996.

Later, while living in San Francisco and New York, Olga explored modern, contemporary and butoh dance. She returned to Colombia, working on solo pieces and collaborations, living in different cities, dancing, presenting and teaching.

In 2005, she had an artistic residency in Montreal and passed through Toronto to participate in [the now-defunct] fFIDA. She returned for good in 2007, splitting her time between Hamilton and Toronto, and becoming one of the first class in the new MFA dance program at York University. She has presented her work at many different events and places along the way, while teaching, coaching and collaborating at McMaster University, the Hamilton Arts Conservatory, Aluna Theatre and Alameda Theatre.

A favourite project of Olga’s here in Canada is Vanguardia Dance Projects, co-founded in collaboration with choreographer and dancer Norma Araiza.

“With these projects we have presented and connected artists with a relation and/or interest to Latin America, and we pursue to continue creating more opportunities of exchange and collaboration.”

Olga has also been working on a new work to premiere next year, Enigma F, with 4 collaborators, including other two choreographers/dancers, a visual artist and a music composer/DJ.  She is also working on a series of dance installations for next year as well.

Remembering the Farewells is a work that has being presented many times since 2002, but this is its Toronto-debut.

“When I created Remembering the Farewells I was living in New York.  I was homesick for a year.  It was my first period of time leaving my homeland.  I was working also intensely my body and I got injured, a very complex knee injury.  I thought that I had to stop dancing, and the doctors implied it.”

Olga searched for memories of family, friends, places, and also recent things happening in the city.

“That was the year of 9-11 in New York.  So, many farewells of people were intense in that moment for me. I started sitting dancing, hand dancing… any type of dancing without moving much my leg.  It was a strong time, full of nostalgia and desire for living through my strongest way of expression: dance.”

Olga began with four dances linked in collage form, then developed a fuller story line and character based on all these farewells.

“In general, my creative process starts from the motivation: a subject, a resource, a place, a moment… anything….and it is related to a live moment or where my interests are focused. The order of what it comes next is different each time.  But generally after motivation, it goes research.  The research is based in the practice of my craft and also looking to places and many things, diverse art forms. I would say I look to everything around me during the process.”

After showing excerpts of Remembering the Farewells in Toronto over her years in Canada and choreographing full-length works for other companies, Olga wanted to present a full-length piece of her own.

“So, I put my name in the [Toronto Fringe Festival] lottery. I chose a piece without much tech involved and with strong theatricality due the nature of the festival. This presentation will also help me to visualize a production presentation of a full length re-mount for next year. So, here we go…”

Olga firmly describes her work as dance-theatre, full of contrasts between movement, theatrical play and music.
“It reconstructs farewell memories from childhood, family, places, loved ones, parties, friends, and homeland. It is inspired on femininity and fragility as well as in the strength that imprints the acts of many women.”

Life itself inspires Olga to continue creating, performing, presenting her work.

“The possibilities of expression. The curiosity.  The playfulness.  The options of going deep in my own world and to create other worlds.”

By: Olga Barrios
Choreographed and performed by Olga Barrios

Photography: Juan Carlos Marquez
Lighting designer: John Henry Gerena
Show length: 50min.
This performance is accessible for non-English speakers
venue
show times
July 06 09:15 PM
July 08 04:30 PM
July 09 10:30 PM
July 10 10:45 PM
July 11 12:00 PM
July 13 12:00 PM
July 14 05:15 PM

at-the-door tickets ($10)
advance tickets
($9 + $2 service charge)
Available up to three hours prior to the start of a performance: Online at www.fringetoronto.com
By Phone at 416-966-1062
July 2nd – 15th, daily, 9:30am – 6:30pm
In person at the Festival Box Office
July 4th – 15th, 12 – 10pm @ The Fringe Club, 581 Bloor St. W.


Azana Pilar's Aerial Allusions at the 2012 Toronto Fringe Festival


Aerial Allusions is another international dance show at this year's Toronto Fringe Festival, traveling to us from San Francisco, via Ottawa and New York, with traces of creator Azana Pilar’s many travels around the world.
Azana Pilar is an aerialist, working for years in bars, nightclubs and private events, while  working a day job in construction. The work she brings to the Toronto, Aerial Allusions began its run in New York in February of this year and moved on to the Ottawa Fringe Festival. She is a nomad, traveling and working wherever she goes and in a variety of fields.  Her sideline in construction has informed Aerial Allusions, incorporating tools and ladders, merging her vast experiences into fresh forms.

Aerial Allusions draws on dance, physical theatre, clown and aerials to explore relationships between couples.
“It seems like a lot of people I know are jaded and disillusioned by their relationships and I wanted to express my perspective through physical theatre. Jaz (castmate Jason Morneau) and I found that we both had things we wanted to say, and decided to begin this project.”

Azana creates through trial and error, an approach which is not rejected once the performances and touring begin. The performers continue to plumb the possibilities of the material they’ve created.

Though Azana is the choreographer, she clearly has a collaborative spirit.

“Jaz and I have very different ways of working, so it has been a learning process.”

Azana also stresses the importance of music as a first step for choreography. She spends a lot of time seeking out the right music, sound that fits with her particular perspective on the subject matter.

Azana has been performing for quite a while now but Aerial Allusions is her first major self-production.

“I decided that I finally needed to take the leap and put my work on stage. I needed to force myself to start to produce. I have been going on and on for years about how I want to be creating, and decided to just go for it.

Aerial Allusions is not a 'dance show'. Deep questions are asked, there is philosophy, there is confusion, love and hate. The medium is mostly physical…it is a combination of various performance styles and I feel it’s a dynamic way to perform. I try to burst through the constraints of [traditional] theatre, or [traditional] dance and fuse many ways of expressing on stage.

“I am fueled by my frustration, and my admiration of humanity. I feel like I am driven by a passion I cannot ignore, and that this is an important step in getting it out.”

And I think that’s why we all take part in the Fringe. It really is important to get it out, on its feet, into the world.

By: Azana Pilar
Company: Azana
Company origin: San Francisco
Director: Azana Pilar
Choreographer: Azana Pilar
Cast: Azana Pilar and Jason Morneau
Show length: 50min.
Warnings: Nudity, Graphic Violence, Mature Language
This performance is accessible for non-English speakers

venue

show times
July 06 08:45 PM
July 07 04:00 PM
July 08 09:45 PM
July 10 02:15 PM
July 11 01:45 PM
July 12 07:30 PM
July 14 09:15 PM

at-the-door tickets ($10)
advance tickets
($9 + $2 service charge)
Available up to three hours prior to the start of a performance: Online at www.fringetoronto.com

By Phone at 416-966-1062
July 2nd – 15th, daily, 9:30am – 6:30pm
In person at the Festival Box Office
July 4th – 15th, 12 – 10pm @ The Fringe Club, 581 Bloor St. W.
Value Packs:
5 Pack ($45) – savings of $510 Pack ($82) – savings of $18!more info: www.fringetoronto.com