Dances for a Small Stage takes on Pickton trial and Vancouver riots
If you like your dance/theatre cabaret style, then Dances for a Small Stage offers that with a diversity rarely seen on any stage in Vancouver. Running since 2002, MovEnt has produced one to three shows every year, and Julie-Anne Saroyan, the artistic producer, has started to give the dance artists themes to work with.
“I feel like we’re living in a complacent time where we don’t take action as Canadians," Saroyan said. "Artists have the privilege of making commentary on our society and so we should."
And the dancers have taken social commentary to the stage: Former Ballet BC dancer Edmond Kilpatrick is taking on the recent Vancouver riot for the shows, running August 10, 11 and 12 at The Legion on Commercial Drive.
With an extremely diverse group of styles and demographics, complacency will not be sold on the stage or at the cash bar. Contemperary artists include Edmond Kilpatrick, Caroline Liffmann and Lina Fitzner, Shannon Moreno, hip hop crew Now or Never, Vancouver tap legend Jim Hibbard and Burlesque artist Burgundy Brixx are held together by the theme and also the Master of Ceremony, comic actor Geremy Dingle. The music of Mark Berube accompanies Dingle and opens and closes the show.
Using the theme of the Seven Virtues, flip side of the Seven Deadly Sins, the artists exceeded Saroyan’s expectation.
"The artists have been grabbing hold (of the theme) in ways that I didn’t expect," said Saroyan. "Some have taken shape politically and some are more entertainment based though this show is more dance based than the last one.”
Burlesque artist Burgundy Brixx, for example, has created a piece about the women murdered by Robert Pickton.
Burlesque and the Pickton Farm mass murders is a brilliant and courageous marriage that Brixx discussed via phone, “It’s such an important statement to be made as we need to not forget them.”
Brixx, an American who’s lived here for three years after an impressive career in New York City in both musical theatre and burlesque, explained how her craft can be used to shed light on a gruesome murder case.
“Burlesque is about peeling and revealing different layers, of clothing, of personality, of a character”, Brixx explained. “There is a commonality of humanity in this piece. It is a tribute to these women in a small, small way.”
“I love being able to address hot topics,” she added.
As the producer of the wildly successful weekly show on Sundays, Kitty Nights Burlesque at the Biltmore Cabaret -- which routinely sells out the 350 capacity venue -- Dances for a Small Stage provides her with the opportunity to make a different kind of artistic statement.
“I'm blessed that Julie-anne has allowed me to do it, as there are not a lot of stages that I can do this on. It is an exhausting piece, but very rewarding.”
For Brixx and, indeed, for all the other dance artists who tend to be either solo artists are in small companies, the bonus of these events is the coming together of all these different dance creators to offer support and feedback.
“I feel really isolated as a solo artist', said Brixx, “so I love the interaction between the true dancers. I love coming to the rehearsals.”
Saroyan agreed, listing reasons why dancers enjoy coming to her show.
“Dances for a Small Stage gives artists a platform to try out short pieces (five to seven minutes) that then can be built into more full-length pieces," she said. "And not often is a burlesque artist, a hip hop crew and a tapper in a room together. The exchange between them, offering comments, asking questions, is special.”
Dances for a Small Stage 24 takes place from August 10 to 12 at The Legion on 2205 Commercial Drive (at East 6th Ave)
Doors: 7pm Show: 8pm
Tickets: $20, Cash at the door; 19+ Admitted