ProArteDanza: ballet reimagined

ProArteDanza presents a “really incredibly difficult technical approach to dance” / ProArteDanza.com

ProArteDanza is a contemporary ballet company based out of Toronto. The company is run by Artistic Director and renowned soloist from The National Ballet of Canada, Roberto Campanella. The group brought two stunning works to the First Ontario Performing Arts Center this past Wednesday: the Global debut of Campanella’s Fearful Symmetries and the Ontario debut of his Artistic Associate and the company’s Resident Choreographer, Robert Glumbek’s Diversion.

The first piece on the bill was Glumbek’s Diversion and I found myself in awe of everything happening on and off stage: the countless hours of training, costuming, lighting, music and, of course, the raw power of the dancers.

The ballet is set to music by Marconi Union, Senking and Ólafur Arnalds. The slow legato of the ambient classical and electronic music was contrasted by the sharp movements of the dancers, while the quicker more heart-racing music escalated the dance to the point of becoming frightening. Audience members were gripped by the display.

Glumbek’s work evokes feelings which I would expect to feel watching a Trent Reznor soundtrack interpreted through dance, yet it is more original, more it’s own genre — a product of its own inspirations and of the creative mind of its creator. I got chills; blown away by the power and near-disturbing, machine-like, accuracy of the dancers.

Following a short intermission Campanella’s Fearful Symmetries unfolded upon the stage, set to the music by John Adams. The theme of the work is urgency and evokes a feeling of never having enough time.

Campanella uses the physical act of running with the classical work of Adams to simulate the stress and hopelessness one finds in rush hour Toronto. As he alludes to in interviews, the piece is in reference to a classic silent film. The fast-paced soundtrack leaves the viewer and the actors behind in their turmoil as it marches on relentlessly.

“One thing that we can promise and we know how to deliver is a lot of passion,” said Campanella. “A lot of passion for what we do, a lot of passion to communicate in a very human way, all of our vulnerabilities or strengths, or whatever else, all of this in a frame of very intense physicality – athleticism – and really incredibly difficult technical
approach to dance.”

The company also does educational and training programs, all of which stress a broad range of skills applicable within and outside of the world of dance. They have programs for both younger and older students, the goal of which is to get the dancers to the point that they can dance with the company.

In Campanella’s words, “the old training of building soldiers who only do what they’re told belongs to the past.” ProArteDanza trains dancers to be able to collaborate, act and think creatively, take initiative and independently think.

The moves of both pieces were not implicitly urban, nor were they exclusively classical ballet. The erratic jolting and longing movements of Diversion as well as the fast pace, continuous militaristic marching of  Fearful Symmetries was enlightening and creative, arresting the viewer to their seat.

ProArteDanza is a combination of Black Swan and Blade Runner: a perfect mix of beauty, creativity, athleticism, and feeling.

The dancer’s movements were highly technical yet still organic and fluid. It seemed as though they were improvising or doing what comes naturally to them regardless of how many creative liberties they were actually taking. The dress was minimalistic, as was the lighting; both of which highlighted the dancers and faded into the background the way a perfect movie score does. It simply becomes a part of the performance.

Campanella stresses that “more and more people are getting more educated and more open to contemporary dance.”

“The community is seeing people being open to come to the theatre without being intimidated by contemporary dance,” said Campanella. “The theatre is an escape, is to experience the phenomenon of what you’re watching, and not necessarily always trying to be top heavy, and rationalise.”

 

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