Toronto
3 min

Body language

Misery, death & female dancers

DEATH DEFYING DANCE. Matjash Mrozewski's No One Dies debuts at the Fringe Festival Of Independent Dance Artists. Credit: Xtra files

Martha Graham once said, “Dance is the hidden language of the soul of the body.” If that is the case, then choreographers Matjash Mrozewski and David Earle will be among 250 artists having their say at the Fringe Festival Of Independent Dance Artists (fFIDA) this month.



Mzrowski’s No One Dies debuts at fFIDA and will be performed at both the Grande Scale Event and the Grande Scale Gala. He describes the work – which is not yet finished – as emotionally intense, visually dense and, for lack of a better word, modern. Unlike his previous works, Mzrowski says he isn’t concentrating on the end product.



“I know how to pull it all together at the end,” he says, “so what I’m really focussing on is just letting something evolve.”



In No One Dies, Mzrowski has brought together four female dancers with whom he has worked in the past – Lara Barclay, Kate Franklin, Anisa Tejpar and Meredith Woodley.



Mrozewski began his own training at the National Ballet School at the age of 10. He became a corps de ballet member of The National Ballet Of Canada in 1994, but left the company in 1997. After two years dancing in Europe he came back to the National Ballet and was promoted to second soloist before leaving again in 2001 to pursue a career as a freelance choreographer.



A Delicate Battle, Mrozewski’s first piece for the National Ballet, was a defining moment in his career. A World Of Art, his first piece for the Royal Ballet, premiered in London this June, and he is set to choreograph for the Houston Ballet this fall and the Stuttgart Ballet early next year.



Mrozewski says that overall his sexuality has not affected his work. “The one thing I can say is women excite me creatively the way men do sexually in some sense,” he says. “So I always find that I never feel I have to do a piece on men or gay relationships or something like that. It’s fine, but it’s not like I have big skeletons in my closet about that that I feel need to be addressed. At the same time, as a gay artist, does one have a responsibility to do that?”



David Earle’s The Miserere will also be performed at the Grande Scale Gala by 15 dancers from Dancetheatre David Earle, a Guelph-based company that offers professional training. Choreographed in 1980, it’s part of the larger work Exit Nightfall: Five Dreams After Death.



“Basically people are lowering each other to the floor or lifting each other from the floor,” he says. “It’s very much a demonstration of support from a community.”



The dancers will be accompanied by a 15-member choir performing sacred music. Earle will also be teaching master classes from Tue, Aug 17-21, the first time he has taught at fFIDA. The open classes – for dancers with previous training – will be based mainly on Graham technique.



After studying modern dance with Yone Kvietys in Toronto and at the Martha Graham School in New York, Earle returned to Canada in 1968 and cofounded Toronto Dance Theatre (TDT) with Patricia Beatty and Peter Randazzo. Earle has choreographed more than 100 works and has received numerous awards, including a Dora Mavor Moore Award, the Jean A Chalmers Award For Distinction In Choreography and the Order Of Canada. He has taught not only at TDT but also throughout Canada and the US. After leaving TDT, Earle founded his own company, Dancetheatre David Earle, which debuted at Spring Rites in 1996.



“The kind of dance we work in is very sensual and in a way has a great deal in common with an erotic experience,” he says. “It’s impossible to do this work without a sensual permission in yourself…. I think in that way I have a very powerful feminine side to which I’ve always given permission and I think that that made me express myself principally through women.”



Dance, he says, is not only a means of personal expression. “I think it has an enormous impact because it is nonverbal, and I think that the physical expression of ourselves can be more immediately perceived than we can make ourselves known through words. I think that the demonstration of self that you offer to the audience should summon from them some heightened sense of who they are.”



* Matjash Mrozewski’s No One Dies and David Earle’s The Miserere will be performed at fFIDA’s Grande Scale Gala. Thu, Aug 19. 8pm. The Fermenting Room, Stone Distillery Building, Distillery Historic District. $35. No One Dies will repeat on Fri, Aug 20 and Sat, Aug 21. 8pm. The Fermenting room. $18.



FRINGE FESTIVAL OF INDEPENDENT DANCE ARTISTS.

Tue, Aug 10-Sun, Aug 22.

(416) 504-7529. Ffida.org.