VIDF's opener solid but lacking innovation

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GMDC photo by Li jianyang 1

The VIDF is a festival that prides itself on bringing in international flavour to Vancouver’s contemporary dance scene. While a solid performance, headline collaboration between Guangdong Modern Dance Company (GMDC) and the Goh Ballet didn’t set the bar for innovation.

GMDC’s dancers were athletic and strong in their performance, but lacked emotion. Whatever they executed on stage, they executed technically well, with an abandon that made me wince a few times. I found it encouraging that the women were as strong as the men, leading to many surprising twists in the choreography. The speed and coordination was astonishing, pairs working well together, trusting each other wholly to catch and support one another. Each dancer was showcased, and acquitted their parts with fluidity and power.

GMDC photo by Ringo Chan

Image: Ringo Chan

GMDC’s performance reminded me of an Olympic competition. Technically, the feats of athleticism were astonishing and injury-inducing. However, the emotional connection with the work simply wasn’t there. Contemporary work is supposed to be all about feeling, but the dancers seemed to be going through the motions without true understanding. I could applaud for the sheer talent in within the performances, but nothing on stage compelled me to spring to my feet.

Goh_Ballet_Credit_David_Cooper_2

Image: David Cooper

Goh Ballet’s selection for this night of collaboration was… puzzling. After GMDC’s technically strong performance, Goh opened with their younger dancers in a very traditional recital piece. It broke whatever mood GMDC was trying to set, and oddly felt out of place. It wasn’t any surprise that most of the audience members seemed to be parents and families of the young dancers.

While pleasing to the eye, it wasn’t the quality I expected of the opening act of the Vancouver International Dance Festival. Hopefully the festival’s other works will be more challenging.

The Vancouver International Dance Festival plays until March 29 at various venues in town. Advanced tickets here.

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Cecilia Lu Arts & Culture Editor at Vancity Buzz. Cecilia a sucker for great indie theatre and anything really geeky. Lethal drink of choice: single malt whisky. cecilia[at]vancitybuzz[dot]com
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