• Megan Andrews

Entry Point

Updated: Dec 4, 2019

Thursday, Oct. 3, 11:00am

Ryerson Theatre

School Matinee Performance

I’m still arriving. It’s 11am. My flight arrived from Vancouver at 6am today (Thursday Oct. 3)

and I’m sitting in Ryerson Theatre surrounded by the cacophony of busloads of high school

students from Toronto and the surrounding area. They seem excited. The part of me that’s

sitting in the theatre is excited too. But there’s part of me that is still arriving from the airport,

in a kind of motion blur en route – still on TTC and still running down Gerrard St. to get to the

theatre in time – still catching up to the version of me already in my seat. I’m in the past and

the present simultaneously, and some of me is arcing into the future in anticipation for this

performance and three days of FFDN to come.

The buzz increases when FFDN General Manager Christina Giannelia and National Ballet of

Canada First Soloist Tanya Howard take the stage to offer a welcome. Christina notes that this

program features artists from 3 continents. Right. And I feel like I’m experiencing motion blur?! Past, present, future. There and here. As this experience emerges for me, I realize that both the essays we commissioned for the Program Magazine this year also address this theme. Then, that magical moment arrives: the lights dim and together we enter the shared experience of live performance. I love this transition – the dark potential of it – not knowing what will happen and yet hovering on the threshold about to fall in. It’s that moment when “a hush falls over the crowd”, right? But no! Rousing cheers erupt all over the theatre. The excitement brims over into whooping and calling. Then I remember: this is the unique Fall for Dance North Festival energy. On opening night of the very first festival – five years ago – the crowd at the then Sony Centre for the Performing Arts (now MERIDIAN HALL) also erupted in cheers. Yes, it’s that kind of festival.

"In Transit" by Louise Potiki Bryant, Performed by The New Zealand Dance Company. Photo by SVPhotography

And even with all the noise, or perhaps because of it, I fully arrive in this here and now, along

with the rest of the audience. The performers are already in. The opening image of Louise Potiki Bryant’s In Transit for The New Zealand Dance Company compels attention from everyone. You’ll see why when you attend Program 3 at Ryerson Theatre this week (running on 3 occasions). And suddenly I also see my experience of motion blur appearing right before my eyes in the video projections. The work mesmerizes and when it ends – with an equally arresting closing image – again the theatre rings with cheering and whooping, but now it’s a more condensed and lifted energy. The dance itself, its qualities of ritual and reverence, has worked on us, transforming the vibe of the theatre itself. Do these students realize this? It’s palpable.

Skånes Dansteater. Photo by Bruce Zinger.

And the program continues to focus and shift the energy of the space. Skånes Dansteater’s duet Dare to Wreck begins with a causal but intense engagement between the dancers. Over the piece, their movement expresses the gamut from tender touches to persistent nudges, shoves, lifts, drops, rolls and suspensions, which is where they leave us at the end – in suspension, of disbelief perhaps. Is this really the end? Again, with a chorus of cheers, the audience of students and their teachers offer appreciation.

"Mani.Deux" by Cody Berry/Northfoot Movement. Photo by SVPhotography

Cody Berry / Northfoot Movement – with live musicians and another set of compelling video

images – deals with themes of disintegration and reintegration exploring Indigenous Two-

Spirited lived identity. This theme appears in the shifting formations and combinations of the

dancers, in the video imagery of beings dissolving into digital fragments, and in the movement

vocabulary. Specifically, the final unison group section weaves specific pow wow forms throughout the more abstract choreography. I had the opportunity to ask Cody himself about this and he verified for me that yes, the section does draw in fragments of movement from both the male and female pow wow forms (Jingle, Shawl, Traditional, Fancy and Grass dances). Of course, cheers follow once again.

Caroline "Lady C" Fraser. Photo by Kendra Epik.

Lady C, her crew of dancers and collaborating musicians from the Toronto band re.verse closed out the program with their high-energy dance-music Conversation drawing on popping, locking and free style forms. Expressed off the top through individual dialogues between dancer- musician pairs, the exchange then takes off in more complex permutations and combinations, both high-speed and super slo-mo. The physical-musical rhythmic play generates a cheeky antagonism at times, and some solid unison grooves. A resounding roar from the crowd wraps things up.

In the aftermath, Christina and Tanya once again take the stage to host a post-show chat and while the artists are getting ready to come out, Christina asks the students: “Stand up if you take dance at least once a week.” Pretty much the entire audience stands. “Stay up if you take dance more than twice a week,” calls Christina. They all stay up. “Stay up if you take dance more than four times a week.” Incredibly nobody sits! To get them to sit, she jumps to 10 times a week, and finally they all take their seats as the post-show chat commences.


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1 Front St. E, Toronto, ON

Ryerson Theatre

43 Gerrard St. E, Toronto, ON

Union Station

65 Front St. W, Toronto, ON

We respectfully acknowledge the sacred land on which Fall for Dance North operates, and upon which our events and activities take place.  It has been a site of human activity for over 15,000 years and it is the traditional territory of the Wendat, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishinaabe, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit, in addition to other peoples, both named and unnamed.  Today, the meeting place of Tkaronto is still home to many Indigenous peoples from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work in this community, and on this territory.

Fall for Dance North thanks the following funding partners for their ongoing support: