Kashedance & Recalcitrare at the Canada Dance Festival 2011
15 June 2011 No Comments
By Anya Wassenberg
recalcitrare from Latin, to kick back, from re- + calcitrare to kick, from calc-, calx heel
Toronto company Kashedance held a private preview of Recalcitrare, a new piece by founder/choreographer Kevin A. Ormsby last weekend, just before they took it on the road to the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. The piece will be performed June 16 at the Canada Dance Festival, and as Kevin explains it, it’s the result of a number of ideas and influences that came together since the beginning of this year.
First, the name itself. “It means to kick back from the heels,” Kevin explains, “because we don’t walk around en pointe.” There are many such “heel first” movements in the four parts that make up Recalcitrare, in opposition to traditional norms of classical ballet.
The piece plays with the notions of classical music as well. It uses string music that comes from a variety of traditions, including Chinese instruments as well as a number of pieces from the CD Chamber Music by Malian kora player Ballaké Sissoko and French cellist Vincent Ségal. The CD, with its seamless marriage of those two traditions of string virtuosity, was an inspiration in itself. “The music chose me,” Kevin says simply. “It’s the marriage of the classical instrument with the kora that appealed to me. I saw different possibilities.”
With the music in mind, he worked on the choreography during a residency University of the West Indies, at the Philip Sherlock Centre for the Creative Arts in Mona, Jamaica. Some of the movements and postures in Recalcitrare are drawn from Edna Manley sculptures he found at the National Gallery of Jamaica in Kingston. “Some of the things that I’m doing come from Edna Manley. I wanted to explore stillness with them. I wanted to be more understated.”
Even the costumes, which combine loose West African style pants and fabric patterns with the classic tutu (for both male and female dancers,) reflect the piece’s dual nature. “It’s about being as formal as the classic forms of ballet – and also about letting go.”
Recalcitrare uses the choreographic vocabularies of Western contemporary dance, classical ballet and the movements of traditional African and Caribbean dance in a way that further develops Kevin’s growing and unique choreographic style. Rather than existing in opposition to each other, those multiple traditions merge into a piece that’s fresh and inspiring, and whose appeal defies categorization.
“I’m exploring what’s ‘classical’. It’s a political statement I’m making at the National Arts Centre,” he laughs.
Kevin A. Ormsby has been a dancer and choreographer for over two decades, beginning his training at the Edna Manley College. He’s performed with Ballet Creole, Canboulay Dance Theatre, Caribbean Folk Performers, Caribbean Dance Theatre and Dance Caribe Performing Company, and from 2001 to 2006, with Garth Fagan Dance, New York, with whom he toured the world extensively. Kashedance includes Kevin along with dancers Jasmyn Fyffe, Byron M. Beckford, Kerry-Ann Wright, Gabriella Parson and Aisha Nicholson.
Photos by Christopher Cushman.
Canada Dance Festival www.canadadance.ca. Learn more about Kashedance at kashedance.weebly.com
Anya Wassenberg is a longtime freelance writer with a specialty in arts and culture. Check out her blog www.artandculturemaven.com