Vancouver International Dance Festival
Every edition of the Vancouver International Dance Festival has something for everybody, i.e., there is a wide variety of dance expression. But every VIDF also has works by artists who work outside of the focus of mainstream arts. These are the artists that are often the unknown treasures of our programming. In this year’s VIDF, there are two solo dancers, both accompanied by musicians, one from California and one from Denmark, that are well worth checking out. Kitt Johnson from Copenhagen, accompanied by Swedish composer/musician Sture Ericson explores the primordial memory that we carry in our skin and bones as she undergoes a metamorphosis from a formless body to one that we recognize as our own in Rankefod (8pm, March 16-17, Roundhouse). Michael Sakamoto from Los Angeles, accompanied by composer /musician Amy Knoles, also transforms in a kinetic commentary on the sacred and the profance in Sacred Cow (7pm, March 20 & 5pm March 21, Roundhouse). For patrons who enjoyed the butoh performances of Taketeru Kudo and Yoshito Ohno in past festivals, these are two artists that will also take you on memorable journeys.
What compels us to program artists like Kitt Johnson and Michael Sakamoto is that both provide audiences with a journey to follow. Dance is not like movies or plays. There is usually no linear narrative, no complicated plot. Dance is more like experiencing a dream, but a dream driven by the physical and musical poetry of the performers. Rankefod is a journey of transformation where Kitt’s body seems initially a confused jumble of limbs and torso without a head. The body slowly reveals and composes itself and by the piece’s end, we have followed a path of astonishing physical transformation that interacts with the live mixing of Sure Ericson’s computer generated atmospheric ambient sounds.
Michael Sakamoto’s transformations are like constantly changing identities aided by ingenious costume changes where tearing off one layer exposes a new character. Like Rankefod, Sacred Cow is also very much a conversation with a musician. Amy Knoles shares the stage with Michael and creates electronic variations of koto, shakuhachi, tsuzumi, conch shell, and other traditional instruments mixed with contemporary synthesizer textures. Her music energizes and animates Michael’s idiosyncratic popping butoh style to great effect.
Kokoro Dance’s contribution to the VIDF will be a piece entitled L.S.D. (Love, Sex & Death) that will be performed at the Roundhouse at 7pm on March 12th and 13th. This work shares the same title with the offerings of Flamenco Rosario (March 16th and 18th at 7pm) and Out Innerspace (March 17th and 19th at 7pm). Each company will address one or more of these themes which should provide some interesting contrasts from butoh to flamenco to contemporary and how each aesthetic paints a different picture of the same universal experiences. Revisiting the music of Robert J. Rosen and the choreography from 1994’s Dance of the Dead, Kokoro Dance’s version of L.S.D. features Carolyn Chan, Ziyian Kwan, Ellen Luchkow, Molly McDermott, and Jennifer McKinley performing Artistic Director Barbara Bourget’s choreography. Barbara works with motion to create emotion. She subtly alters physical textures and dancers’ relationships. Barbara’s choreography fuses her strong technical ballet training with the more organic sensibilities of butoh. Kokoro’s L.S.D. is performed to a CD recording of Robert J. Rosen’s music featuring cellist Shauna Rolston, trumpeter Jens Lindeman, pianist/vocalist Adrienne Park, and Robert himself on bowed guitar. In 2011, Flamenco Rosario and Kokoro Dance will premiere a full evening collaboration that will build on these initial 2010 essays and then blend and confuse butoh with flamenco. The 7pm performances at the Roundhouse are free with a $3 VIDF membership. The membership charge is also included in the cost of the tickets to the 8pm performances so patrons can experience two different shows each evening for the price of one. Tickets are available on the VIDF website (http://vidf.ca) or by calling the VIDF Box Office at 604.662.4966.