By Prachi Kamble
VANCOUVER — Only when you spot the long line of dancers outside Harbour Dance on Granville do you realize the prominence of Vancouver’s dance community. The existence of other equally prestigious dance studios across the lower mainland is proof that the city’s dance scene is thriving and growing. Dancing On Edge is Vancouver’s annual contemporary dance festival that brings in dancers from Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, and Victoria. Running from July 7-16, its goal is to connect local audiences to contemporary dance and to raise dancing’s profile as an art form.
“Some would argue that Vancouver has replaced Montreal as the dance capital of Canada,” explains festival director Donna Spencer. “Given the resources that the Quebec government has invested in contemporary dance, Montreal still leads as an innovative centre for it, but Vancouver is not far behind.”
Dancing On Edge originated in 1988 as a Firehall Arts Centre project. Since then, contemporary dance has grown leaps and bounds in the mainstream. “Contemporary dance can say something in one gesture that it would take a paragraph of text to say,” says Spencer. “It connects into our bodies kinaesthetically and can be interpreted in so many different ways. It requires great discipline, it allows us to move and celebrate our body’s physical capacity. It stimulates our imaginations and allows us to explore ideas in a personal, private way.”
The festival has avoided being married to a single theme. Instead, the shows have been curated to provide a good mix of over 30 established and emerging choreographers. Montreal-based choreographer and dance artist Frédérick Gravel, an internationally acclaimed contemporary dancer, will perform “THUS SPOKE” at the festival. “Gravel’s work is provocative, quirky, and pushes the envelope of dance,” Spencer says. “It is theatrical, humorous, and rebellious. ‘THUS SPOKE’ is a collaboration with Étienne Lepage. It integrates text and movement in a performance that is a cynical, cheeky discussion about our uncertain environment.“
Vancouver choreographer and dancer Julianne Chapple will also be performing. “Her piece has been developed in a residency at the Dance Centre in Vancouver,” Spencer continues. “She trained at the Langley Fine Arts School and also spent time in Europe. Her work is very sculptural and is heavily influenced by visual arts.”
Dancing On the Edge is committed to the development of dance through commissioning artists to create new work and showcasing the work of Canada’s finest dance creators. “Each artist and each show has something unique about their work,” Spencer says, “and as professional dance artists, their commitment and skill is always a joy to see.”
Dancing On The Edge runs at various locations from July 7 to 16.BC, British Columbia, dance, Dancing on the Edge