Mar. 06, 2013 - Issue #907: Garbage Goes Green
To the window, to the wall
Expanse Festival takes over the Arts Barns, and beyond
"You're talking to the Azimuth Murray now," he says, noting that the Azimuth Theatre-produced Expanse first moved into the Arts Barns last year—long before the job at the Fringe opened up.
"We've totally taken over the Bus Barns," he says proudly. "We've taken over every nook and cranny. Things are going to happen in the lobby, in the boardroom, in the PCL, on the Westbury, behind the Westbury—the only place things aren't happening right now is the bathroom, and I'm sure someone's been talking about doing an installation in the bathroom, too."
We're guessing that the lobby action will be filled by The Lobbyists, bringing festival-goers installation-style antics in the Art Barns throughout the four-day fest.
As the festival expands, inevitably so does the rest of its program. This year's line-up features the YEG Spotlight with Mile Zero Dance and Amber Borotsik, along with RAW—a sneak-peek of works-in-progress by emerging Alberta artists like Mark Ikeda, Good Women Dance Collective, Punctuate! Theatre and Grindstone Theatre.
The U of A's Department of Drama and Latitude 53 even lend hands this year, with visiting scholar Luk Van Den Dries from the University of Antwerp to give a keynote address titled "Corporeal Constructs in the work of Jan Fabre" (if the Belgian contemporary art and theatre visionary doesn't sound familiar, try googling his Money performances for a taste).
The festival goes beyond the Barns for late-night parties, too, care of Catch the Keys Productions (those delightful curators who bring you the Nextfest Nite Clubs each year); check out the Be Moved Cabaret at New City Legion on Friday with Mark Mills, and the irresistible spoken-word outlaw, CR Avery, at the Legion on Saturday.
In terms of the straight-up, sit-down performance stuff, the Featured Artist Showcase this year boasts two pieces by Calgary's Helen Husak, and the much-anticipated return of One Yellow Rabbit's Denise Clarke, who last visited the fest in 2011 with Sign Language.
Clarke's new piece, dances to music, is a response to her frustration with the non-narrative, ambient-heavy trends in the contemporary dance world.
"It's a response to the world of the body in space, it's thinking 'I want to just dance to music I love.'" Clarke explains. "This is my passionate love letter to dancing to the music I love."
The music in question is a mash-up playlist of choices from Gershwin, Strauss, Radiohead, Eric Whittaker, and original music by Richard McDowell, whom Clarke has worked with for the better part of three decades—her reasons for the soundtrack selections are explained as part of the show.
"I'm walking, I'm talking, I'm telling you the story of why I like this music too," she describes. "I've set up a performance to invite the audience into my world, into what it's like to suddenly find yourself turning to your art for solace. And where do you turn first where you're a choreographic type? To the music."
She knows she's breaking the rules, here. And is loving every bit of it.
"There's an unspoken rule about the music you use," she adds. "You'll notice the music in a lot of modern dance, it's ambient. And the mood is ... creepy. The mood is sombre; the mood is serious. The mood is, in many cases, worthy of those feelings, and I absolutely respect abstraction and movement abstracted in space with an appropriately abstract score—but I happen to be a rhythmic kook. I love dancing to the music. Right? A lot."
She doesn't drop a lot of hints about the performance details, save for the promise of an ending with "lots and lots of pretty dresses."
Now, she could mean literal dresses, but we can't really tell. As playfully cryptic as Clarke is, all the rules about contemporary dance are out the door when it comes to her narrative, quick-witted style—and her unabashed views on artistic licence.
"I don't claim to be the world's greatest hipster, but please, artists get to do whatever they want," she says. "Is that not the point? Diversity. That's why I love Expanse Festival, because it's not up its bum with modern dance rules."
Thu, Mar 7 – Sun, Mar 10
TransAlta Arts Barns, $15.75 (single ticket) $26.25 (day pass), $50 (festival pass)
Schedule at expanse.ca vueweekly.com comments: powered by Disqus
Vue respects your privacy. We will not forward your personal information to any other organization except as required by law, and will use your e-mail address only to respond to your comments. We reserve the right to edit and remove comments for length, clarity and/or if they are illegal or inappropriate. Your email address is never shown to visitors to vueweekly.com. Read the whole policy at: http://vueweekly.com/privacy