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CENTRE STAGE: Dancing on the Edge returns with a packed line-up of contemporary dance

Donna Spencer talks about the festival’s 28th year

Thus Spoke pushes the boundaries of dance.
Thus Spoke pushes the boundaries of dance.

As the longest running contemporary dance festival in Canada, Dancing on the Edge knows how to present a variety of local, national, and international dance artists with something for all tastes. From outdoor works, to mixed bills and premieres, July 7–16 will be an exciting time for the dance community.  

While there are always new works at Dancing on the Edge, some artists are festival regulars who return with new performances each year. Jennifer Mascall’s company MascallDance, who are performing The Outliner: an evening of solos in EDGE OFF One, have been a part of the festival almost every year since it began in 1988.

Donna Spencer, the festival producer, is thrilled to be presenting the 28th year of Dancing on the Edge. There are many shows that she is excited about, but one highlight is Frédérick Gravel and Étienne Lepage from Quebec. “They’re pushing the boundaries of dance and trying to challenge the form,” she said, explaining that the full-length show, Thus Spoke, involves the use of a lot of text.

Another notable work Spencer mentioned is Isaac y Diola by German Jauregui and Anita Diaz. In the mixed bill EDGE One they will be presenting an excerpt of the work. Other prominent choreographers featured in the festival include Joshua Beamish, Sylvie Desrosiers (Dorsale Dance), Serge Bennathan, and Wen Wei Wang.

Dancing on the Edge (DOTE) began commissioning new works for the festival three years ago, and this year they have commissioned works from Amber Funk Barton and Wen Wei Wang that will be shown as part of the mixed bill programs. Spencer explained that the festival wanted to support artists in the creation of new work, as it can be very difficult to find the resources to do so. The hope is that after the festival the artist can continue to develop the work and it will grow into something larger.

“A lot of the work does end up having a life after the festival,” said Spencer. A couple of the artists showed their works at the Canada Dance Festival in Ottawa before making their way west to DOTE. Some of the artists will be taking their shows across the water for Victoria’s Romp Festival and Nanaimo’s Infringing Dance Festival.

The festival also includes a couple of exciting site-specific outdoor works, which are free or by donation. The stunning acrobatics of the Aeriosa Dance Society will be on display in their work Pseudotsuga – Earth to Sky that will be performed high up in a grove of trees in Stanley Park. On July 15 and 16 in the SFU Woodward’s inner courtyard you will be able to see Naomi Brand’s All Bodies Dance Project perform En Route. Be sure to catch one of these free shows, or check out one of the many shows the festival has to offer. No matter your contemporary dance taste, there is something for everyone.

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