the company of dance animal
I was happier than a little kitten in a bowl filled with cream on Christmas while I watched Dance Animal, the “world’s first comedy dance tribe” from Montreal and I strongly recommend that everyone who reads this swiftly scurries down to the George Ignatieff Theatre to catch this production’s final show at 1:45pm on July 11th, 2010 as part of the Toronto Fringe Festival.
Dance Animal reminded me strongly of A Chorus Line, in that it mixes dancing with monologues which reveal intimate and captivating anecdotes that make each member of the ensemble stand out as a unique individual. In Dance Animal, however, these monologues are constructed as bursts of zany, hilarious, eccentric energy that divulge how each of the animals in this dance troupe were seduced by the lead animal, the mysterious Dance Tiger, and encouraged to join forces to make Dance Magic.
The dances in Dance Animal are also hilarious sketches, or emerge organically out of the hilarious sketches, and the genre of dance and the choice of music (usually a well known, popular song) reflect perfectly the concept of the sketch. There was one surrounding Spider Man, whereby the superhero triumphantly chased and vanquished some bank robbers, a charmingly clownish French park bench number, a hilarious dramatization of Boney M’s “Rasputin”, a physically brilliant dance sketch involving seniors from a senior citizen’s home and a bit where the company mimes playing in an orchestra, being conducted emphatically by Dance Tiger.
Since my experience and knowledge of the logistics of dance is quite limited, I feel unqualified to really assess Robin Henderson’s choreography, but I will say that watching this company dance together brought intense joy to my heart. It was truly a magical experience to watch the way that each scene was choreographed with such tight movements, such joyful enthusiasm and such proficiency and exhibition of pure skill. I was captivated throughout every moment and I think it was the only Fringe show that I have seen that I would have happily sat and watched for hours beyond the curtain call.
The monologue performances were also both creative and compelling. Vanessa Kneale’s Dance Hippo expressed herself entirely through movements, which were translated to comic effect by Dance Salmon. Anders Yates, as Dance Salmon, is charmingly awkward infusing dance and physics together and harbouring intense feelings of loathing for *shudder* McGill University. Holly Greco is incredible as the spoiled Krumping Valley Girl Dance Chicken from Sacred Heart School of Montreal. Marc Huppler is in flamboyant gayboy overdrive as Dance Starfish in a performance that may have been too exuberant for some audience members, but that filled my soul with glee. Stephanie McKenna is particularly fierce as Dance Gecko and Gabriel Joseph and Francis Marcil as Dance Serpent and Dance Ladybug respectively make awesome use of Franglais.
Dance Tiger, as played by choreographer Robin Henderson, has taught these Dance Animals how to shine from the inside and the result is that the entire audience becomes infused with pure jubilant delight that builds from one scene to the next, and that the audience likely takes home with them even after the curtain has been called. That is one of the best gifts that any theatre company can give to their spectators and I feel so grateful to have been given this gift of Dance Animal Dance Bliss.
Dance Animal plays at the George Ignatieff Theatre (15 Devonshire Place) at 1:45pm on July 11th, 2010. all tickets $10 at the door or book in advance by calling the fringe hotline at 416.966.1062 or go online at http://www.fringetoronto.com/.