Volume 91, Issue 93

Wednesday, March 25, 1998



All in a day's Dance Werks

By Christina Vardanis
Gazette Staff

Over 200 dancers will be getting down in Talbot Theatre tomorrow and Friday night. But wait – put away the flare skirt and spurs, TNN's 24-hour line-dancing show is not coming to Western. Instead, the campus' very own Modern Dance Company is welcoming dance troops from all over to kick up their heels and boogie down on the ranch.

No doubt, the first question springing to mind may go something like, "Western has a dance company?" The answer is obviously a resounding "yes" and this troop is ready to stomp and switch-ball-change until the university takes notice.

Choreographer Donna Peterson and dancer Allison Hauch came up with the idea of the massive stage show Dance Werks, as a means for drawing attention to university dance companies and to respond to the constant cutbacks to the fine arts program.

"Everybody comes to us when they need something," says Peterson. "But we're not recognized to operate on our own." She recognizes dance does not fit neatly into a specifically funded department title. "We're not athletics, we're not really a club and we're not an intramural. So where do they put us?"

Put them under the category of dazzling theatrical entertainment. This collaboration of Western's Dance Company with a diverse group of guest performers amounts to a mixture of drama, comedy and suspense that tops any given intern scandal. Creativity is allowed in the limelight without the pressures for technical mastery that accompany most competitions.

Western's troop, comprised of 16 talented dancers, are performing eight numbers that combine both modern and classical styles. Through the dancer's collective and individual movement, each piece is expressive of a thought or story.

Re: cycling her(t) is a modern performance that thoughtfully, yet mercilessly, displays the abuse of women and children. Peterson brilliantly depicts the cyclical structure and ironic involvement of victim strength in abuse, by manipulating the shapes of the individual dancer's bodies and the shape they create as a whole.

Gail Manning teams up with Hauch in the powerful Strange Days; an in-your-face performance celebrating the role of women as the newest shit-kickers of society. Other performances, such as Lavender, are poetic in their movement – revisiting traditional dance forms.

Manning and Hauch are the veterans of the group and tried their hands at choreographing four of the eight numbers. However, the troop insists that dance can be nothing but a collaborative effort between the performers and the choreographer. "There's a mutual trust there," says Hauch. "We know each other well enough to know how our bodies move, but sometimes what looks good in our heads doesn't always transform to the body."

The University of Western Ontario Dance Company is no longer soft shoeing backstage – they are front and centre, demanding the attention they well deserve.

Dance Werks runs March 27-28 at 8 p.m. in Talbot Theatre. Tickets are available at the Grand Theatre Box Office.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998