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Vancouver festival dances on the edge

By Laura Murray

Karina Iraola with Lara Kramer Danse performs in Native Girl Syndrome. (MARC J CHALIFOUX PHOTOGRAPHY)

Karina Iraola with Lara Kramer Danse performs in Native Girl Syndrome. (MARC J CHALIFOUX PHOTOGRAPHY)

The 10-day Dancing on the Edge festival promises to animate the city with its anticipated showcase of exceptional contemporary dance from Vancouver’s hotbed of talent, presented alongside the work of some of Canada’s most exciting emerging and established artists.

Festival producer Donna Spencer has programmed 30 diverse choreographies to run from July 3-12, featuring more than 70 dance artists whose range of experiences feed the annual festival. The works are influenced by a diversity of cultures, including First Nations, Asian and Latin American traditions, coupled with samplings of contemporary creations that draw on every style from ballet to modern street dance.

Spencer welcomes Montreal’s Lara Kramer, of Lara Kramer Danse, who she touts as “one young woman to watch.” The B.C. premiere of NGS (“Native Girl Syndrome”) is also amongst Spencer’s list of festival highlights (July 7 and 9). Presented at the National Arts Centre as part of the Canada Dance Festival last year, the powerful theatrical narrative explores addiction, loss, and alienation, drawing from the experience of Kramer’s own grandmother – who as a young woman migrated from a remote First Nations community into an unfamiliar urban setting.

Christopher House, seasoned artist and artistic director of Toronto Dance Theatre, will perform The Body in Question (July 8 and 11) — an adaptation of two solo works, At Once and News, originally choreographed by American postmodern pioneer Deborah Hay. The western Canadian premiere provides a rare opportunity to witness the master of his craft in an absorbing work that earned him a Dora nomination for outstanding performance.

Among those festival performances not-to-be missed, no need to look further than our own backyard. “Vancouver is really on the map as being a leader in Canadian contemporary dance,” said Spencer.

There is a generous helping of local choreographers and companies whose inventive spin pushes the envelope and captures the imagination, including: Vanessa Goodman, of The Contingency Plan, and the premiere of her work what belongs to you (July 5 and 6); Starr Muranko, of Starrwind Dance Projects, and the solo excerpt Spine of the Mother created in a long-distance collaboration via Skype with an artist in Peru (July 10 and 12 part of Edge 2); plus Ziyian Kwan, of dumb instrument Dance, and the duet a slow awkward performed alongside James Gnam, of plastic orchid factory (July 10 and 12). On the closing weekend of the festival, Karen Jamieson, of Karen Jamieson Dance, celebrates her milestone 30th anniversary with the premiere and performance of soloIsoul, which explores the transformative process of aging (July 10-12).

Visit dancingontheedge.org for more details.


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