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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!


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