Nov. 16, 2011 - Issue #839: Ox
Four artistic directors celebrate the Prairie Dance Circuit
Prairie Dance Circuit
John L Haar Theatre, $20 – $35
It's surprising to hear Brian Webb say that he's spent the last year learning how to exercise.
Exercise properly, that is, after one's suffered a major heart attack. Webb's brush with death last fall forced him to rethink the way he moves—it's essentially meant that the 60-year-old contemporary dancer had to start doing real cardio.
"When you have a heart attack, part of your heart dies, and you need to strengthen the rest of it. In reality I'm in better shape now than I have been for several years, but it's a lot of work," says Webb, who will present his solo 30% gone as part of the second annual Prairie Dance Circuit. The piece, featured on the same bill as four other works by artistic directors of dance companies in Calgary, Winnipeg and Regina, is Webb's exploration of his coronary episode, recovery and subsequent revised outlook on life and, well, death too.
"There was a part of me that thought I was going to be a hedonist all my life. Well, guess what? Sorry pal, you're as vulnerable as anybody else is," he jokes.
Though last year's inaugural run of the Circuit presented emerging artists from each of the directors' cities, this year the directors programmed their own works to tour through the provinces (it's the first time in decades that Webb has performed in Winnipeg, he notes).
"One of our strongest commonalities that we have as dance curators—and this is the only part of the country where this is really true—is that we're all dance artists as well. In our second year of the Circuit, we really wanted to celebrate the fact that yes we're dance presenters, but we're first of all and primarily dance artists."
Brent Lott of Winnipeg's Contemporary Dancers performs a duet with Sara Roche titled The Occasion of Our Passing, and Calgary's Nicole Mion of Springboard Performance adds Quiver to the mix. A duet performed by James Gnam and Jenn Jaspar, Quiver is described in the choreographer's notes as a solo piece, but it's actually been performed differently each time: by a man, a woman, and also as a duet.
Davida Monk's Under Cover of Darkness is performed by Hillary Maxwell, and Robin Poitras of Regina's New Dance Horizons presents another, very Prairie-themed solo, titled soft foot.
"We're all leaders in our communities. Why? Because we've all been around for so fucking long," Webb points out, with a laugh. "So we have resources. And we have knowledge. We're really interested in building the sense of the prairie dance community with the Circuit, and not just in our own locales."
As for his continuing education at the gym, Webb looks back on the heart attack with his signature, unquiet penchant. He recently stepped down from his position on the Canada Dance Festival to minimize stress, affirming that he's not in denial about what happened, but he is certainly defiant about it.
"I'm a fighter," he says. "Of course it's frightening, life is frightening though, right? But it's also amazing. Happiness takes a lot of work. I don't think happiness is a constant state. Life is a lot of work on many levels, and moments of joy make it worthwhile. And one of the things that makes me really joyful is when I'm dancing, so it's all worthwhile for me." vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
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