Ryerson’s upper-year dance show, Choreographic Works, is truly a stimulating experience in performance art.
Produced by Ryerson dance instructor Vicki St. Denys, Choreographic Works is entirely performed and choreographed by students who are mostly third and fourth-year students in Ryerson’s dance program, with some second years and a single first year. Since there are over 45 dance pieces that are part of the show, it’s divided into two variants: show A and show B.
I had the opportunity to view show B on March 7. I was blown away by the diversity and unique content of every piece in the show.
It’s been a long time since I’ve experienced the world of dance and live performance. But this show is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Themes like overcoming adversity, romance, youth and angst were all evident in the show.
Different genres of dance – ballet, contemporary, jazz and modern – were fused together to create captivating routines. Dancers painted the stage like a canvas, with emotion, storytelling, symbolism and dexterity.
The show opened with a group performance called “Pangaea” choreographed by dance student Michaëla St-Pierre. This piece was filled with intensity. The music selection and mixture of bright and dim lighting highlighted the moody tension.
Aside from group routines, Choreographic Works also showcased duets and solos. Although many of these were performed by fourth-year students, students in other years had the chance to perform and choreograph these pieces too.
A notable piece from Act 1 was “Everything That Will Happen is Beyond Anything That We Can Control.” It combined dance with dramatic performance art. The piece, choreographed by fourth-year dancers Drew Berry and Lukas Malkowski, involved two people fighting while rehearsing a dance. This routine was funny and impressive; there were choreographed physical fights with some yelling, and exaggerated dancing to a mashup of music genres.
“Time Washes Away Almost Everything,” choreographed by fourth-year dancer Mary Patsiatzis, is another notable piece from Act 1. This piece started with five dancers lying down in a straight line, moving their hands and heads in sync using fast-paced intricate movements. The lighting created a mysterious mood, casting shadows across the stage. This intensified the feel of the piece.
After a 15-minute intermission, preceded by a finale performed by 48 dancers, Part 2 of the show ensued.
Act 2 kicked off with “The Vertiginous Exhilaration of Meticulousness,” choreographed by fourth-year dance student Irena Ponizova. This piece looked like it was heavily influenced by the ballet genre. It’s also one of the only pieces in the show to feature classical music. It featured a more traditional form of dance, which blended with other forms making it a unique routine.
Although Act 2 featured plenty of wonderful pieces, “Extinction Burst,” choreographed by Malkowski, stood out by adding a comedic element to the piece. The routine began with dancer Queenie Tsui uttering something angrily in a foreign language and throwing her shoes on the floor. After, a group of other dancers join her on stage in oversized blazers, dancing in sync with their hands in their pants. The best part? There’s a twist in the middle of the piece where the room goes black. When the lights turn back on, all the dancers, including the men, were stripped down to black bras with the word “censored” splashed across them, and black undies.
Choreographic Works concluded with “SIND,” choreographed by fourth-year dancer Lindsay Fell. All the dancers dressed in white and performed to upbeat music. There was also no shortage of impressive leaps in this piece. “SIND” ended the show on an energetic note, serving as a great closing piece to the show.
Choreographic Works was something different – a refreshing spin on what you may see in a typical dance show.