Skip to main content

dance Immersion 16th Anniversary Showcase

dance Immersion Showcase
Harbourfront Centre Toronto
To May 29 (tonight!)

There were more than a couple of interesting things about the dance Immersion 16th Anniversary Showcase. One was that each of the choreographers had the chance to work with a mentor, which included people like Debbie Wilson and Danny Grossman. Second was the opportunity to work with talented lighting designer Sharon DiGenova, whose imaginative creations added depth to the evening as a whole. A starlit sky, mottled colours and shadows, directional spots , colour washes - she had a formidable arnsenal of effects that highlighted both mood and meaning.

South African born dancer/choreographer Mafa Makhubalo began the evening with his solo piece Colour of my soul: RED. I've seen him perform in other productions, and as a very strong and athletic dancer, I would imagine he's most often given roles that take advantage of those qualities. Perhaps it's no surprise then to find that, as a choreographer, his tendency leans much more towards the expressive than the purely athletic.As a reaction to the colour red, the piece left no ambiguity about that nature of that reaction. There was and effigy of a white man dressed as a suit towards the back of the stage, a very effective and ever present backdrop to his emphatic movements. He's a very watchable dancer with a strong presence on stage.

Sharon Harvey's piece Cargo creates a box or crate out of several dancers, all of them female, in what was a very effective kind of human sculpture. The dancers became pure movement, shivering in agitation. Once in a while, one would rise out of the group to attempt an escape. It was quite evocative as a meditation on human traffic through slavery, immigration, refugees and illegal aliens.

The first half of the show ended with Water Colours, a piece by Edmonton's Movements: The Afro-Caribbean Dance Ensemble. It was a multi dimensional work that looked at human relationships through four very talented dancers, each who brought a different flavour to it, including choreographer Garfield Andrews. As a whole they were very strong in a technical sense, combining it with a nice theatrical sense that fleshed out the narrative.

The second half opend with a bang and KASHEDANCE's In Search of OURselves, a piece by choreographer/dance Kevin A. Ormsby. Kevin describes his work as a synthesis of traditional and modern dance with ballet, along with African, Western and Caribbean influences, and without knowing it last night, that's exactly how it struck me - choreography that used a fusion of vocabularies for a truly contemporary voice. The company is technically quite brilliant, Kevin in particular is a virtuoso performer. Their style is above all expressive, making the athletic prowess simply part of the flow. The stand out was the finale set to Fela Kuti's kinetic Afrobeat music, an urban tableau complete with briefcases and passersby.

Montreal's Ghislain Doté's piece Mâle de femme looks at women's relationship to men through time through four female dancers. Much of the piece was performed without music, the dancers creating sound through words, or infectious polyrhythms through their hands and feet. It was a beautiful piece, and really unique in flavour, their simple costumes leaving the focus on the dancers.

War Child, choreographed by Lua Shayenne and performed by Toronto's Aya Dance Collective is a kind of examination of what the collective calls "the weighty subject matter of war and childhood". The company traveled to Mali and Senegal for research and training leading up to the creation of the piece, and this premiere, and even without knowing that fact when I saw it, what stood out was that this piece was the most directly African in its flavour. Music was compoased by Amadou Kienou, who played on stage with Daniel Joof and Derek Thorne, adding a deeper element to a piece that was shot through with grief, shock and agitation.

It was an energetic finish to a varied and interesting to watch showcase.

Images from top to bottom:
Mafa Makhubalo by Nzegwhua Anderson
Kashedance by Christopher Cushman

Aya Dance Collective by Daniel Garcia


  1. This article is like a treasure discovery of talented dance companies and dancers exploiting marvelously their african roots. I came accross it while searching to illustrate my own blog article ( and stumble upon Lua Shayenne's WAR CHILD choregraphy. Her journey and her vision fit perfectly with my words. I kept exploring your blog and I was overwhelm to find such a minefield of talents and wonderful events that you present so well. I had to share the joy and contentment...

    1. Change of link for WAR CHILD

  2. Thanks so much for you comment! There's so much out there to talk about and dance is certainly one of my favourites.

    1. Anya, I am finally getting to reply back to you. I was then at the very beginning of my blogging "career" so I've been getting to know my way around. Now I believe I am much more solid and will be able to follow swiftly. I still enjoy your blog tremendously and keep finding pearls of treasure in it. Thank you again for your excellent work!


Post a Comment

What Else Is Hot This Week?

Jazzy Pop: Shihori - Soul Trip (Independent / 4 September 2020)

Jazzy Pop:
Shihori - Soul Trip
(Independent / 4 September 2020)New York City based singer and songwriter Shihori's new single Soul Trip is atmospheric and ambient. Interesting rhythms and interwoven melodic vocal lines showcase jazzy harmonic progressions in a slow groove mode. 
As a songwriter, she uses electronic effects with impeccable musical taste. As a singer, her flexible vocals range from a sweet soprano to a strong mid-range.A veteran of the Japanese pop scene, Shihori moved to New York City in 2018, a move she talks about in a media release."I was so surprised when I came to NY for the first time. Independent and strong women are respected and there are lots of different preferences in music and style. I thought, 'oh my God! This place really accepts uniqueness and freedom! I didn't know there is a place like this totally different world that allows you to be yourself. Everybody looks so different. So many races, colors, cultures, fashion, ideas...I am so happy…

FACTORY presents World Premiere ACTS OF FAITH November 19 to 28 2020 - Free Livestream

From a media release:World Premiere
FACTORY presents 
Directed by Nina Lee Aquino
Starring Natasha Mumba
November 19 – 28, 2020 @ 7:30PM
Streamed live for 6 performances
Free of charge
TORONTO (October 19, 2020) - To kick off its groundbreaking 2020/21 season, Factory presents the world premiere of acts of faith, by multi-award winning Asian Canadian playwright David Yee, directed by Nina Lee Aquino, and starring Natasha Mumba. Written specifically to be performed for a digital platform, acts of faith will stream live to audiences at home for six performances, November 19-28, 2020. 
Thanks to the generous support of the TD Bank Group, admission is being offered entirely free of charge to audiences across the country and beyond.acts of faith tells a story about the power of faith, the inescapable persistence of our online identities, and the nature of truth in a digital age. The story follows Faith, a young woman who gets mistaken for a prophet. When a questionable r…

Psychedelic Punk Rock | Lord Sonny the Unifier: (All My Friends Live) Underground (Independent / 25 September 2020)

Psychedelic Punk Rock
Lord Sonny the Unifier: (All My Friends Live) Underground
(Independent / 25 September 2020)Stream it on SpotifyLayers of rhythm and percussive piano characterize this earworm track from Brooklyn's Lord Sonny the Unifier. With spooky harmonies and guitar that is all distortion with a psychedelic vibe, it's a compelling single for the time. Sonny builds the track with an almost orchestral sensibility to a big sound finish.
Greg Jiritano, the main impetus behind Lord Sonny, talked about the song in a media release."(All My Friends Live) Underground is a song about iconoclasts and outsiders who find their group of freaks, or Tribe in the shadows and underbelly, outside the conventions of  society. It's a calling to join us and leave behind  what society has embraced as the norms and the acceptable, the well trod path above. Leave the trivialities being thrust upon us since birth and join our Tribe and rediscover there the truths that will enrich you and…

Alt Country | Doc Straw & the Scarecrows: Get on By (Independent / July 31, 2020)

Alt Country
Doc Straw & the Scarecrows: Get on By
(Independent / July 31, 2020)Stream it on SpotifyClever lyrics that tell a story and an appealing acoustic bounce give the new single by Doc Straw & the Scarecrows a classic modern folk vibe. The vocal harmonies are pleasing and the words are an upbeat ode to persevering during tough times.
It's a timely message, and Doc talked about it in a release."I wrote this song after getting off of a 3-hour long phone conversation with my sister, Jessica, and a lot of our conversation that evening  centered around some of the tougher things in life and how we were dealing with these struggles. If a person lives long enough then at some point they will experience these trying seasons. I've learned that it's important to pay attention during those times because that is when we have some of the best opportunities to grow."It has a nicely haunting harmonica line and builds to an emotional peak. Virginia based Mike Straw is…

Recently Released | The smallest Creature: Magic Beans (Independent / 30 September 2020)

Recently Released
The smallest Creature: Magic Beans
(Independent / 30 September 2020)Stream it on SpotifyWith influences from The Beatles to Alice in Chains, The smallest Creature's Magic Beans is an album of alt-rock with an intimate, almost alt-folk feel to it. The lyrics are poetic and integral to the song, lit up with tight chops and accomplished musicality.
Would You Blink has a nice sense of urgency and a driving rhythm, contrasted by October Song, something of an old blues song with a 21st century rock makeover. Their grunge influences come to the fore in Glow, with Let Burn another guitar-heavy rocker. The band goes softer in Break Me, an acoustic song that spotlights Stefanos Marnerides' soft tenor. The smallest Creature hail from Larnaca in Cyprus in the sunny Mediterranean. The smallest Creature is the brainchild of Stefanos Marnerides, with the name starting off as an alias in NYC where Stefanos was performing solo gigs and recording demos. When later Stefanos moved …