Review: ProArteDanza - The 9th! Makes Exciting Dance From Beethoven's Symphony

ProArteDanza - The 9th!
Fleck Dance Theatre, Toronto
November 8, 2019

Dancers: Taylor Bojanowsk, Ryan Lee, Sasha Ludavicius, Daniel McArthur, Victoria Mehaffey, Connor Mitton, Jake Poloz, Kelly Shaw.

One More Chance To See It Tonight

In casual wear costumes, with a minimalist stage set, the focus is all on the dancers as they create a fascinating tableau of movement out of Beethoven's symphony in ProArteDanza's The 9th! 
Dancers of The 9th! - Photo by Alexander Antonijevic
Campanella uses a very modern choreographic language to explore Beethoven's 9th Symphony, with an intriguing dramatic undertone to the movements. At times agitated or combative, searching and connecting, the dancers weave on and off-stage, in and out of patterns together and as soloists. It creates a rich fabric of movement through the four movements of the symphony.

His interpretation of the emotional Romanticism of Beethoven is thoughtful, leaving the most dramatic moment of the music as more contemplative, and playing with the ebb and flow of tensions.
Dancers of The 9th! - Photo by Alexander Antonijevic
Creative use of projections enhances the performance, at times amplifying the movements of the dancers, and at others adding interesting lighting effects. My favourite was the pile of chairs slowing collapsing in the background.

Like the costumes, the staging is spare, occasionally using a row of wooden chairs as props. A little smoke, and coloured lights shining from offstage, were all that was needed to create atmosphere. The lighting is dramatic, enhancing the movement with a play of shadow.

The dancers are superbly athletic, going from agitated movement to slow contemplation - even singing along with the chorus at one point.
Dancers of The 9th! - Photo by Alexander Antonijevic
One quibble is the sound system at Fleck Theatre, which made the higher registers of the music a little shrill in parts.

Putting the whole symphony together took time, but the result - innovative and exciting dance - is a fitting tribute to the company's 15th anniversary season.