Dance Canvas: Introducing the Next Generation

Dance Canvas’ “Introducing the Next Generation” is an annual dance concert put together to showcase the works of new and developing choreographers. I’ve been twice before (it would have been three but for the snow last year) and have generally found it enjoyable. Since it features a number of different choreographers and dancers, it can be a mixed bag, but I’ve always found at least one or two pieces in the bunch that I really enjoyed and even the worst of it generally isn’t that bad. This evenings’ collection of works did have some that I didn’t particularly enjoy, but there were some that I really liked.

The evening began with Isaac Lerner’s “Space Between” which consisted of three small segments, each performed in a square of light somewhere on the stage. The first segment had two people struggling to escape the square and get away from each other, like a bad relationship in which the partners feel trapped. The second bit was a solo dancer who seemed to be prevented from leaving her square by her own fears. The third was in a square of red light and seemed to be trapped by his anger and hate. The piece felt a bit raw but, with a little work, could eventually be pretty good.

Next we had a beautiful work by Gierre J. Godley called “Same Difference” that went right over my sleepy little head. It was a crisp and clear ensemble piece that seemed to be saying something that never made it across to me. I really, really wish that I’d have had a blurb to go along with it, but it was enjoyable to watch just the same.

“Ever Evolving” by Jordan Keyon Smith was a fun, jazzish piece. This had some of the richest choreography, at least in terms of the size of the ensemble and amount of unique movement involved. It began with a woman in blue watching people who were in all black interact. Then she starts dancing with them and eventually they all have quick costume changes into vibrant colors. It was, as I said, fun and jazzy and colorful.

The winner of best costuming for the evening was “Out of Darkness” by Lindsay Fritz. Three of the four dancers were in these poofy, fiber optic dresses that made them look like pretty jellyfish floating around when the lights were out. Aside from that, the choreography was a bit choppy, going from one scene to the next without segue or a sense of completion for each scene. There was some enjoyable stuff in it, but the rough edges kind of took too much away for me to really get into it.

We then had a work for film called “Id” by Meg Morrissey which was a dream-sequence in which the id expressed itself. I thought that there were some interesting ideas in it and there was some choreography that, were it staged live, I might have enjoyed quite a bit. However, the direction and cinematography was rather weak and the editing was very choppy. I felt that they were just trying too hard to tell the story with the camera rather than letting the dance and imagery that the choreographer created do the real work. I think that there might be enough to this piece that if it were blown up into a longer stage work with film interludes then it might work for me. However, it just didn’t work for me as it is. I suspect that this was originally part of Fuerta Dance’s “En La Mente” film series earlier this year and, honestly, I don’t know that it really belonged in the show.

After an intermission we had “I’m Game,” by Beth Del Nero, which just wasn’t for me. That’s not to say that it wasn’t without it’s charms, though. The piece was basically a bunch of friends playing video games. The choreography was occasionally cute but rarely that clever. It ended with a bit of aerial dance on a cube, which is something that I’ve never really enjoyed. That bit was set to an instrumental version of the Dresden Dolls’ “Missed Me,” which kind of threw me because I had the lyrics running through my head and they had nothing to do with the violent shooting that the dancers were doing. That said, this was the runner up for best costuming, with half the dancers in fun Tetris leggings.

“Converse of Silence” by Raianna Brown was gorgeous. This was a somewhat jazzy piece exploring the emotions surrounding unintended pregnancy. It began and ended with an incredibly moving poem written and recited by Rica G called “Her Story.” Aside from that, the thing that really touched me the most in the work was a character’s barefoot tap-dance movements through the piece, like a streak of anxiety running along the spine of the work, driving it forward even when the dancer was not present.

This was followed by Emily Cargill’s “Fields,” which I surmise refers to field theory from physics. This was a really fun piece that looked like a bunch of particles interacting in interesting ways. It kind of looked like it could have come from the Dance your PhD contest. I particularly liked that none of the dancers looked alike – everyone was a different shape, size, and skin color – such that it really looked like an experimentation to see how each type of particle or field might interact with the others.

The final piece of the evening was “After Sunset” by Adam W. McKinney. This was a duet with a film behind the dancers of themselves being filmed in a field by a quadrocopter. Aside from my usual complaints about film stealing the audience’s eyes away from the dancers, I found the film kind of disorienting. At first it looked like the dancers in the film were doing the same choreography as the ones on the stage (though not quite in sync), and that may have been the case at first, but subsequent scenes were different and often had the dancers in the film lying down. There was some pretty ballet in it but, for the most part, it was dull and didn’t really express anything beyond “I’m afraid of drones” without in anyway exploring how drones may impact someone’s life. It reminded me of another war-related piece in a previous Dance Canvas program that seemed to have some lofty ideas behind it but was actually pretty vapid in practice.

2 thoughts on “Dance Canvas: Introducing the Next Generation

  1. Hi Robbie,
    This is Angela (Executive Director of Dance Canvas). First, thank you so much for coming to our shows for several seasons now! I really appreciate your time and support! Secondly…thank you for your review!! As a choreographer myself, I always appreciate feedback and I try to help our choreographers get as much as possible (so, I’m glad ? found your posting)!! The time and detail you put into this review is wonderful and I appreciate your observations and point of view! I hope you will join us next year for the 10th anniversary…and out of curiosity, What piece has been your favorite over the years? Feel free to let me know (

    • Hello Angela,

      Thank you for your encouraging comments and I am certainly looking forward to next year’s show! I’m really not a favorites kind of person, but the one piece that really sticks in my mind from the three showcases that I’ve seen is Robert Mason’s “Apocalypse of the Soul” from the 2012 series. At least, I’m pretty sure that was it: I keep this blog primarily as a complement to my memory and that was before I started writing regularly. Whichever it was, I found it incredibly moving.

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