Flamenco dancer Karen Pitkethly in Small Stage 33. Photo by Derek Stevens.

Flamenco dancer Karen Pitkethly in Small Stage 33. Photo by Derek Stevens.

The ANZA Club, Vancouver – February 11, 2016

Dances for a Small Stage presents Vancouver’s dance talents in intimate, cabaret-style venues.  This 33rd edition celebrated Valentine’s Day with pieces interpreting themes of love.  It was emceed by the glamorous and gracious Symone Says and Burgundy Brixx – the ‘glitterati’ and ‘literati’ – as dubbed by Symone, who warmed up the audience with a lip-synched ‘L-O-V-E’, while Ms. Brixx sung a very classy La Vie en Rose after intermission.

Of the nine pieces presented, six are self-choreographed, and the artists filled the stage with their personalities.

The show opened with Flamenco artist Karen Pitkethly, performing Romeo + Juliet, a self-choreographed solo that slipped between a melancholic song by the Indigo Girls of the same name, and live flamenco guitar, played by Gerardo Alcala.  Dressed in figure-hugging black top and flared skirt, Pitkethly’s arms, precise and controlled, dramatically articulated the moods evoked by the melodies, while her feet chattered in clean, fast-paced rhythms.  Her fluidity with such contrasts brought an elusiveness to her love story.

My tongue your ear was performed by Maya Tenzer and Darren Devaney, respectively, former apprentice and company member of Ballet BC, in a piece choreographed by Lesley Telford, who has created works internationally, including for the Netherlands Dans Theatre.  Set to Etude 1A by composer Nico Muhly, they began standing side by side in feigned unison.  Both wearing white shirts, her in a skirt, him in pants, their divergent aesthetic showed their emotional detachment, though they were physically bound by the intricate choreography.  Devaney’s quick fluidity and large presence, an echo of Ballet BC’s aesthetic, filled the stage. When Devaney lifted Tenzer, she pushed her feet against the walls of the stage and showed her struggle with the confinement of the relationship.

Joshua Beamish performed Concerto Casanova, a solo he choreographed, set to Concerto for Violin, Oboe and Strings in D Minor by Bach.  Bare-chested and wearing grey pants, Beamish seduced the music’s ascending and descending notes with controlled and articulate phrases in the style of neoclassical ballet.  Playfully, he flirted from the choreography’s structure – jutting out his hip, cocking back his head and even dangling his leg off the stage – tempting the audience with greater intimacy.  Looking directly into the audience, Beamish ensured we never took our eyes off him (and how could we?), which created an exciting tension that hinted at unspoken desires.  He leaned languidly against the wall of the stage, before reluctantly turning away to exit.

Ain’t Your Average Girls was a lively piece performed by three local hip hop talents Sarah Corrigan, Hannah Henney and Sabra Lind, choreographed by Henney.  Dressed in plaid shirts and ripped jeans, their infectious smiles and cheerful personalities made this the most entertaining piece of the whole evening.  Later in the program, Henney showed an enjoyable narrative choreography, dancing in her duet, When Time Stops, with Andrew Creightney.

Another White Heterosexual Duet was a solo danced by Walter Kubanek, choreographed by Jennifer McLeish-Lewis.  Kubanek began the piece twisting and turning his loose body, showing deliberate disregard for form.  He went wherever momentum brought him, or wherever the moody rock music teased.  He then stood and began a monologue with a woman in the audience that attempted to define himself against socially desired traits.  As the increasing volume of David Bowie’s Soul Love tried to drown him out, he resisted, hurling himself into jumps and shouting over the music, ultimately losing the fight.

Bhangra Love was performed and choreographed by Hardeep Singh Sihota.  He danced high energy Bhangra dance steps that changed with the different tracks of music that played one after another.  Wearing blazing red bottoms, a red vest and his broad smile, he was the most exuberant expression of love that night.  Sihota, we love you too!