Toronto
2 min

Unique art orgy

Two disciplines caught in the act

IF YOU GO OUT IN THE WOODS. In his debut as a film director, Toronto Dance Theatre's Christopher House offers the erotically charged Falling Gothic Green. Credit: Xtra files

Billed as five days of “rich, lush, colourful films exploring the intersections of dance and the camera,” next week’s Moving Pictures is kind of like having a festival about painting and music – you sort of expect to see someone creating a watercolour rose while a ballerina spins around the easel. Luckily, dance and film do intersect readily and intriguingly.



Falling Gothic Green, an offering from Toronto Dance Theatre’s artistic director Christopher House, uses digital editing techniques and slick cinematography to create a quick, almost subliminal series of haunting images of flesh in a forest. The camera takes the audience out of the traditional theatre and into a vibrantly photographed green wood. The dancers don’t have to worry about tricky costume changes, and they go in and out of clothing from one split second to the next (definitely one of the perks of the dance-film medium).



House’s directorial debut gets kind of orgiastic at the end. The movie and movement was developed from a medieval Arthurian poem and features nude boys and girls splashing together in the river and throwing bark at their faces. Yvonne Ng, Jessica Runge, Joe Moran and House sport costumes by renegade seamstress Jeremy Laing (who also throws the Big Primpin’ hip-hop party in Parkdale). Laing’s fabric scraps and string constructions look good on the dancers – until they end up in their birthday suits at the end. Falling Gothic Green screens in the Bravo FACT program of new dance shorts (at 7pm on Thu, Oct 22 at the Isabel Bader Theatre, 93 Charles Street W; tix are $10).



For the more classically oriented dance enthusiast, there’s Veronica Tennant’s film A Pairing Of Swans. Brent Carver, best known for his Tony-award winning performance in Kiss Of The Spiderwoman, narrates the little movie, comprised of two swan numbers danced by Evelyn Hart and Rex Harrington: The Dying Swan, an homage to late great Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, and The Swan Sees His Reflection In The Mirror. The dancers are captured in moody spotlights on a traditional theatre stage and there are lots of shots of the harpist and the cellist.



A Pairing Of Swans opens with Carver in a cheesy dressing-room telling how Anna Pavlova, “The immortal swan,” insisted on dancing with a high fever one night in the winter of 1931 and died six days later of pneumonia. Carver’s performance is creepy. There is no doubt about it. He squeezes a bar in an empty dance studio and says, “Why can’t life be an endless dance?”



As far as I’m concerned, House has more imagination as a filmmaker than Tennant. While House explores the potentials of creating a dance/film hybrid genre, Tennant simply films ballet.



The world premiere of A Pairing Of Swans is part of the festival’s opening night gala, featuring Barbara Willis’ adaptation of The Firebird with choreography by James Kudelka and featuring performances by Harrington, Greta Hodgkinson and Aleksandar Antonijevic of the National Ballet Of Canada (7:30pm on Wed, Oct 22 at the Isabel Bader Theatre; tickets are $40 in advance and include an after part).



Curated by Kathleen M Smith and Marc Glassman, the Moving Pictures festival running Wed, Oct 22 to 26 at various venues, is chock full of shows and events as unique as the two short films described here.



THE MOVING PICTURES FESTIVAL.

Various venues.

Wed, Oct 22-26.

(416) 961-5424.

www.movingpicturesfestival.com.