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The Art of Stealing throws down in post apocalyptic world

Amber Funk Barton looking into the future with physical bravery and abandon.

A post apocalyptic world with punk sensibilities and thrashingly controlled physicality catapults Amber Funk Barton, artistic direct of “the response” dance company, into the realm of dance artists to watch in the country. This world premiere running at the Firehall Arts Centre till May 31, features choreography and direction by Amber Funk Barton with a strong cast of performers: Amber Funk Barton, Heather Laura Gray, Maiko Miyauchi, Manuel Sorge, Kevin Tookey, and Lexi Vajda who take you on a journey that ends in a bleak exit of existential demise.

Thrown weight caught by partners who then move on only to hurl themselves at the floor spinning in uber fast rolls characterizes the movement vocabulary. Grounded flow with turning dynamism that steals from martial arts, boxing punches and hip hop isolation offers the style. Original Sound Composition by Marc Stewart propels the dancers with driving beat and ambient sound.

The phrases of movement speak to Funk Barton’s creating these movement patterns and then teaching them to the dancers so that unit movement, in which all dance in unison, is clean and tight. The choreography is clearly hers and the dancers have picked up her nuance and thrown their own artistry in to the mix.

The Firehall Arts Centre theatre has been turned into an environment that suits the piece. With audience on either side and the performers in a corridor in the middle, they bounce off of the black brick wall, a function of The Firehall being a heritage building, like a home base that also traps.

Soundly and intelligently lit by Mike Inwood, the lighting serves the vision of the piece putting the performers and the environment in shadow while allowing us to engage with the athleticism. Projections by Jenn Strom do the same, flashing sentences that lead us through the narrative creating an extra dimension of subtext.

lululemon lab team, who are credited as the Costume Designer for The Art of Stealing, have created steel grey designs offering aesthetic design elements that suit both the pedal to the metal choreography and the body types of the dancers.  The team at lululemon lab, including Team Director Jean Okada, worked with Barton and her dancers from the initial concept design through to fittings and finishing adjustments.

All the performers are strong but it is Funk Barton’s solo at the end before she exits through the door in the brick wall to uncertain end that speaks to a performer that is at the peak of her capabilities. She expresses her inner world with such abandon, surety, strength and bravery that the audience is hard pressed not to respond. That full commitment and specificity of story will only grow in the piece as The Art of Stealing moves into a life beyond the premiere.



The Art of Stealing at the Firehall Arts Centre (280 East Cordova)

May 28 – 31, 8pm

Post-show Talkback Thurs May 29

Tickets $20 - $30 | 604-689-0926









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