Dancing in the key of life in Kaeja d’Dance’s joyful, moving, dynamic Porch View Dances 2019

PORCH 2: Lifesongs (Her Mixtape’s a Masterpiece), choreographed by Shannon Litzenberger. Kirsten Boer, Marion Oliver, Lori Pacan, Evelyn Sham and Myriam Zitouni. Photo by Cate McKim.

 

Kaeja d’Dance opened its 8th annual Porch View Dances, presented in and around Seaton Village in the Annex neighbourhood of Toronto (starting at 92 London St.) last night. Part walking history tour, part magical outdoor dance performance, part storytelling, the evening’s festivities feature amateur and professional dancers. The audience is shepherded by the affable top hat-wearing host and tour guide, Maurycy, who takes us through the neighbourhood to the various porch and vignette venues—all winding up at Vermont Square Park, where everyone is invited to dance. It is a joyful, moving and dynamic evening of movement and expression.

PORCH 1: Sipikiskisiwin (“Remembering Well”), choreographed by Aria Evans and created with/performed by Jim Adams. For the third year in a row, Jim and Owen Adams, an Indigenous father and son, have embarked on a PVD series of what it means to be an Indigenous family in the city. This year, they will be creating a piece for Jim to perform about dreams, memory and loss.

Incorporating movement and ritual, a moving piece of longing, connection and remembrance.

PORCH 2: Lifesongs (Her Mixtape’s a Masterpiece), choreographed by Shannon Litzenberger; created with/performed by Kirsten Boer, Marion Oliver, Lori Pacan, Evelyn Sham and Myriam Zitouni. A unique group of friends and strangers unite in their shared love of dance, art and community. They are looking forward to strengthening existing friendships and making new ones.

Kindred spirits sharing life, love and music in a celebratory porch party atmosphere.

PORCH 3: Comme un Enfant (“Like a Child”), choreographed by Karen and Allen Kaeja; created with/performed by Ilana and Ahava Bereskin. A mother/daughter duo are looking forward to a magical bonding experience and sharing their dance with the community; while their story is unique, the themes are universal and will resonate with all.

Tender and playful, a mother and daughter delight in each other, dancing, playing and exuding pure joy.

POP-UP VIGNETTES: Dearest Love (Parts 1-3) world premiere, choreographed by Mateo Galindo Torres; and performed by professional dancers Taylor Bojanowski and Mio Sakamoto.

An unusual and delightful love story emerges between a woman and a dress on a dress form, as we encounter this magical tale in three parts, in between porch dances.

Last night’s event also included the very cool unveiling of the Porch View Dances Lane street sign (across the street from the meeting place at 92 London Street).

It’s a lovely way to spend an evening, walking through a beautiful, historic neighbourhood and witnessing the joy, poignancy and creativity of expression in movement and dance.

Porch View Dances continues until July 21, with performances Thurs-Sat at 7:00 pm and Sunday at 1:00 pm. Tickets are Pay-What-You-Want.

Department of corrections: One of the dancers in Dearest Love was previously incorrectly identified as Caryn Chappell. It’s actually Taylor Bojanowski; this has been corrected.

Here are some pix I took at last night’s opening.

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A yin & yang of fluidity, strength, beauty & connection – Kaeja d’Dance’s 25th Anniversary Concert

allen and karen kaeja photo by aria evans
Allen & Karen Kaeja of Kaeja d’Dance – photo by Aria Evans

“25 years feels like a masterpiece. One that has flaws, failures, good fortune and gratitude, colour splattered in unrecognizable textures that weave together an incredible human experience!” – Karen Kaeja

“25 years is encompassing growth, struggle, intimacy and it’s terrifying. It’s tenderness, and support – with passion and imagination!” – Allen Kaeja

Kaeja d’Dance premiered its double bill 25th Anniversary Concert last night, running until Saturday, March 28 at Harbourfront Centre Theatre.

Kaeja d’Dance co-founders/choreographers/husband and wife team Karen and Allen Kaeja each choreographed a piece (and dance in each other’s pieces) for this double bill premiere celebration performance, tackling the “notions of fate, coincidence and choice.” The dance company includes Michael Caldwell, Zhenya Cerneacov, Ana Groppler, Allen Kaeja, Karen Kaeja, Merideth Plumb and Mateo Galindo Torres.

.0 (by Allen Kaeja, with Caldwell, Cerneacov, Groppler, Karen Kaeja, Torres & Plumb) – Immediacy, instinct and the vulnerability of our senses
An athletic, robust, yet beautifully vulnerable and at times comic piece – and accompanied by a haunting soundtrack (composed by Edgardo Moreno, featuring violinist Jessica Hana Deutsch), and featuring sharp atmospheric lighting and fog effects (by Oz Weaver) – .0 plays on the tension of opposites. Holding back/explosive action. Isolation/engagement. Effervescent/exhausted. Playfully confrontational, aggressively gentle, the piece plays on cause and effect, incorporating movement from contact improv, martial arts (judo) and balletic, gender-neutral lifts to powerfully dynamic effect.

TAXI! (by Karen Kaeja, with Caldwell, Cerneacov, Groppler, Allen Kaeja & Plumb) – Things I forgot to tell you: That I love you. That I love you. That I love you. (from Anaïs Nin, A Literate Passion: Letters of Anaïs Nin & Henry Miller, 1932-1953)
Playing on the theme of coupling – and navigating romance in the midst of a challenging world – TAXI! Is whimsical and poignant, cheeky and sexy, and full of languid, sensuous and playful movement and interaction – not to mention sharp comic timing – as the choreography brings the dancers together and pulls them apart. This piece weaves original composition (Sarah Shugarman and Phil Strong, performed by Strong), pop music and text, allowing the dancers to engage with the theme physically, verbally and vocally – with overlapping relationship storytelling and singing along like nobody’s watching to Alicia Keys’ “Fallin’ (In and Out of Love)” – as well as voice-over recordings of a young boy (Willem Kerr) offering general life advice and reciting marriage vows (from the mouths of babes…). As I left the theatre, with “Fallin’ (In and Out of Love)” running through my head, I know I’d never hear that song the same way again. With shouts to lighting designer Oz Weaver.

Kaeja d’Dance’s 25th Anniversary Concert is a yin and yang of fluidity, strength, beauty and connection. Get yourself out to see this marvelous, innovative dance company.

Kaeja d’Dance’s 25th Anniversary Concert continues this week till March 28 at Harbourfront Centre Theatre – check out the details and buy tickets online here.

Look out for Kaeja d’Dance’s Porch View Dances this summer (Aug 19-23). You can also keep up with Kaeja d’Dance on Twitter – and check out the trailer for the 25th Anniversary Concert: