One can’t help but wonder if DA Hoskins called his newest dance work The Land of FUCK (A Fable) simply as a means of getting publicity. Whatever it says about the work, having a title like that is a surefire way to cut through the deluge of press releases that clog the inbox of an average journalist every day.
“Of course I want the title to grab attention and raise some eyebrows,” says the Toronto choreographer. “But it’s not just about creating intrigue around the show. The title sums up my experience on this crazy planet. There are so many fucks in this life and I’m just simply acknowledging it.”
The title of the work actually predates the show, having started as a wisecrack between Hoskins and some of his collaborators two years ago.
“When I get pissed with the business side of the art industry, I always seem to gravitate to pushing buttons,” he says. “I remember tossing the title out as a joke for my next work one day. It was born in a moment of frustration, but the artists in a rehearsal were all in agreement about its potential. This collection of words immediately became my next challenge.”
Land of FUCK is the fourth outing from The Dietrich Group, a company Hoskins founded in 2008 with dancers Brendan Wyatt and Danielle Baskerville. Made up of a constantly fluctuating group of artists, the company creates multidisciplinary performance that blends dance, theatre and film elements. This project features nine Toronto dance artists, including Sebastien Mena, Luke Garwood and Tyler Gledhill. They perform characters from various walks of life, including an art auctioneer, a tuba trio and members of the Salvation Army. And perverts, fear not: as always, there is plenty of nudity.
Though the combination of the title and dancers in the buff might suggest a show that hovers below the belt intellectually, Hoskins is clear that he’s exploring more than just sex with the piece.
“There is also the theatrical idea of ‘a fable’ and the idea of taking a moral stance in the telling of a story,” he says. “As a gay male, my childhood was spent in a repressive arena. I believe this history continues to define my actions as an artist. Politically, this ‘repression’ has brought to the table a need to challenge and exercise my belief in individuality.”
A North Bay native, Hoskins has called Toronto home since the early 1980s. His formal education in dance included work at Ryerson, George Brown and the School of Toronto Dance Theatre.
Since then he has established an impressive career that has seen his work performed on stages across Canada and Europe. Despite considerable critical success and commissions aplenty from established companies, the 45-year-old has managed to stay true to his roots.
“I’ve always found inspiration in the intensely anti-establishment sensibility of the punk movement,” he says. “That in combination with the sexual sensationalism of the current consumerism has been a springboard for conversation with the company.”
If nothing else, Hoskins wants us to use the show as an opportunity to examine our preconceptions around the word “fuck” and why the term representing the act that brought all of us into being is considered so offensive. “People will always be drawn to boundaries and taboos, questioning what is acceptable,” he says. “To ‘fuck’ is humanity at its best and at its most base, at its highest form of intimacy and lowest. It is a word and an action that divides the generations, the sexes and our moral compasses. At the same time, of course, it creates.”
The Land of FUCK
Directed & choreographed by DA Hoskins
$25, available at totix.ca
Wed, March 23–Sun, March 27
Workman Arts Theatre, 651 Dufferin St