Arts + Culture » Dance

“The audience is going for a ride”

Ordinary Rebels stages three high-energy dance pieces.


Sara Coffin, left, performs her piece “standing alone facing you” with Gillian Seaward-Boone. - MICHELLE DOUCETTE
  • Michelle Doucette
  • Sara Coffin, left, performs her piece “standing alone facing you” with Gillian Seaward-Boone.

Mocean Dance has something special in store for this weekend. A trio, a duet and a solo dance are on the lineup for Ordinary Rebels, Mocean's mainstage show at Neptune's Studio Theatre.

Even the title of the show has a tense energy. "We felt the dichotomy of 'ordinary' and 'rebels' is a reflection of dance in particular, and of art in general," says Mocean's co-artistic director Susanne Chui. "While it's a natural part of living to move and to be creative, at the same time, it can be rebellious to create art."

"The overall theme is questioning identity and revealing the darker side of human existence," says Sara Coffin, Chui's partner in artistic direction. "We're questioning ordinary notions of identity and sense of self, but there is still a rebellious nature because we don't follow the status quo. People who are interested in questioning their place in society will resonate with the questions we are asking."

For one of the Ordinary Rebels pieces, Mocean brought in choreographer/dancers Emily Gualtieri and David Albert-Toth, co-artistic directors of Montreal's Parts+Labour_Danse. Gualtieri's world premiere "Stealing Fire" was commissioned by Mocean and features dancers Jacinte Armstrong, Rhonda Baker and Gillian Seaward-Boone. The piece is an exploration of contemporary mythology, with particular inspiration drawn from the story of Prometheus.

"I became increasingly interested in the idea of how to create a modern-day myth," says Gualtieri. "What really interests me is the moral question and the idea of trying to create something that isn't quite possible. The world of this piece is a little abstract, it's a little mysterious and it's a little surreal. I wanted to explore how those elements come together, how they come apart or disintegrate in front of an audience.

"How do we go to real places with the performers onstage and also embrace the fantastical parts of our imagination?" To this end, Gualtieri believes there is something in this show for everyone. "And there is an automatic and exciting tension in a trio because there isn't the same kind of balance as there is with two, or even a solo."

Another new work is Coffin's piece "standing alone facing you," performed by Coffin and Seaward-Boone. The duet seeks to explore the internal and external self of a person. "It's really a reflection of our physical reality and the mirror of who we want to be," she says.

Completing the Rebels triptych is David Albert-Toth's solo "La Chute"—inspired by the post-war avant-garde play Rhinoceros, by Eugene Ionesco. "La Chute" has toured with much acclaim across Quebec and is making its Atlantic Canadian premiere in Halifax.

"Like Mocean, Parts+Labour_Danse is influencing the evolution of Canadian contemporary dance and both companies are emerging as creative forces in our respective communities," says Chui. "We are thrilled to build a collaborative relationship with Parts+Labour_Danse to share their fresh, engaging and energetic work with our home audiences."

"The audience is going for a ride," Coffin promises. "They are going to be exhausted just from sitting in their chair."

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Ordinary Rebels
January 21-23, 8pm
Neptune Studio Theatre, 1593 Argyle Street

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