Peggy Baker Dance Projects, Stereophonic, Betty Oliphant Theatre
Peggy Baker Dance Projects presents Stereophonic, a mixed bill of five multi-dimensional contemporary dance works choreographed by legendary dance artist Peggy Baker, including three world premieres and performance debuts in two landmark solos. Featuring a company of exquisite dancers - Peggy Baker, Sarah Fregeau, Benjamin Kamino, Sean Ling, Sahara Morimoto, Andrea Nann - as well as award-winning pianist John Kameel Farah, 2013 Electronic-Composer-in-Residence for Soundstreams Canada - Stereophonic runs Wednesday, February 27 to Sunday, March 3 at the Betty Oliphant Theatre.
The centrepiece of Stereophonic is the world premiere of Split Screen Stereophonic wherein Baker stretches her already highly-acknowledged artistry. With a spectacular 40-year career that includes two decades of creating and performing solos, this piece is a major step in Baker's evolution as a choreographer as she tackles a timeless theme in collaboration with her ensemble. For the first time in her career, she choreographs duets that explore intimate male-female relationships, investigating the chemistry of the personal and private worlds between men and women. In Split Screen Stereophonic, she examines these worlds from the women's perspectives; but she turns it up a notch by placing two couples simultaneously on a stage cut into right and left halves. The duets juxtapose striking variations and parallels as both women, caught up in a constant negotiation with their partners, veer unstably from intense connection to breakdown and collapse.
Choreography: Peggy Baker. Dancers: Sarah Fregeau, Benjamin Kamino, Sean Ling, Sahara Morimoto. Music: Knuckleduster (Robert Lippok, Debashis Sinha). Costumes: Jennifer Dallas. Lighting: Marc Parent. Set: Larry Hahn.
Also premiering is Aleatoric Solo No. 1. This work for dancer Sahara Morimoto is a spin-off of Baker's 12 dancer/12 hour event created for Nuit Blanche 2010, Aleatoria. The word 'aleatoric' means 'randomly' and describes the chance procedure employed for this collaboration between Baker and Morimoto. Drawing from the ten works from Baker's repertoire that Morimoto has danced, brief sequences of movement were sampled to create an original distillation that embodies Morimoto's history in Baker's choroegraphy. Each performance pairs Morimoto with improvising musician John Kameel Farah.
Choreography: Peggy Baker. Dancer: Sahara Morimoto. Improvising Musician: John Kameel Farah. Costume: Jennifer Dallas. Lighting: Marc Parent.
The final premiere on the program is a new solo, epilogue, choreographed and performed by Baker herself - an examination of the ironies, frustrations, and emptiness of absence and loss.
Choreography: Peggy Baker. Dancer: Peggy Baker. Lighting: Marc Parent.
Rounding out the program are two signature solos by Baker, interpreted by others: Encoded Revision (1996) performed by the hyper-kinetic Benjamin Kamino and In a Landscape (1995), performed by the radiant Andrea Nann. Musician John Kameel Farah performs in both works.
Encoded Revision: The creation of this work was based on the literary form of the palimpsest: a document written on several times, with remnants of earlier, imperfectly erased writing still visible. Buried inside of Encoded Revision, and serving as the original document for the musical palimpsest, is an account of the tragic death of composer Michael J. Baker's great grandfather in a train accident on the Canadian prairies in 1898. Three generations later, the story existed only vaguely in the family's oral history until it was recovered more completely through the composer's research. In every available account - newspaper articles, CPR telegrams and North West Mounted police reports - this intriguing bit of information surfaces: "A tramp, who was stealing a ride, was slightly injured, and started walking east after he had his breakfast."
Choreography: Peggy Baker. Dancer: Benjamin Kamino. Original Music: Michael J. Baker. Piano: John Kameel Farah. Costume: Caroline O'Brien. Lighting: Marc Parent.
In a Landscape: A shamanistic meditation on instinct, ritual and transformation, In a Landscape requires the pianist to approach each sound with precision and delicacy, and calls on the dancer to align herself with the constancy, and the flux, of nature's cycles.
Choreography: Peggy Baker. Dancer: Andrea Nann. Music: John Cage (In a Landscape, 1948). Piano: John Kameel Farah. Lighting: Marc Parent.
Accompanying the program is a photo exhibit by photographer Sean Howard. The exhibit, which features stunning diptychs of the Stereophonic creative team and dancers, will be on display in the lobby of the Betty Oliphant Theatre.
On February 19, there will be a free, noon hour sneak preview of the program at the Four Seasons Centre for the Arts.
Peggy Baker Dance Projects heads to Ottawa's National Arts Centre April 11-13 with John Kameel Farah to perform Encoded Revision and In a Landscape from this program along with her major work Piano/Quartet (Ric Brown, Sean Ling, Sahara Morimoto, Andrea Nann). Baker will also dance her double-Dora Award-winning solo Portal.
Peggy Baker is one of the most outstanding and influential contemporary dance artists of her generation. A founding member (1974), and later Artistic Director of Toronto's Dancemakers, she toured internationally throught the 1980s with Lar Lubovitch's New York company before joining Mikhail Baryshnikov and Mark Morris as an inaugural member of the White Oak Dance Project. She subsequently forged important creative relationships with choreographers Paul-André Fortier (Montreal), James Kudelka (Toronto) and Doug Varone (New York). Her solo debut was made in 1990, and she established her ensemble in 2010. Among her many honours are: 2006 Premier's Award for Excellence in the Arts, an honorary doctorate from the University of Calgary, five Dora Mavor Moore Awards; member of the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada; 2009 Governor General's Performing Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement in dance; 2010 Walter Carsen Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts; and a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. She has been the artist-in-residence at Canada's National Ballet School since 1992.