OMO Dance Company go to the UN

Choreographer Debbie Wilson and I have something in common. We both have had things come up in our working lives that have put our current projects in a tailspin. Mine is merely a case of my day job getting in the way of me making timely posts on BlogTO.

Ms. Wilson, on the other hand, has had the opportunity of a lifetime appear out of thin air. The United Nations has invited her to take her troupe, The Omo Dance Co., to perform in Geneva. But OMO had a gig in Trinidad. Trinidad was postponed -- they flew out to Europe yesterday.

I got the opportunity to see a preview of Wilson's revisioned piece Planitarium last week Saturday at the COBA Dance Studio . The doorbell rang during the beginning of the performance as latecomers appeared, weirdly fitting the scene on stage.

This piece is, as Wilson put it, a "foundational production". The score can be expanded and choreography is multi-faceted so that dancers from anywhere in the world can be slotted in and thus contribute to the piece.

The electronic score is interesting with elements of the familiar: smooth jazz, classical, elements of what I call "Eastern Roman Empire".

The piece is made up of full emsemble sections as well as duets. I like the fact that the dancers, two Black men and two White women, are not National Ballet of Canada emaciated -- they actually have meat on their bones. And their dancing is not effortless -- it is nice to see dancers obviously being made to work for their art.

There are some things I would have liked to have seen. I would have like to have seen some same-sex duets. With the male-female duets there were some lovely passionate "embraces of resistance", for lack of a better description - a love-pull-away action. It would have interesting to the two men or the two women square off given the different body types and modes of dancing which Wilson seems happy to accommodate.

I was also conscious of the "feet shuffling" sequence. I think it was meant to represent the moving of planetary bodies in space but I found that the sound of their feet cut the impact of the gesture. Still I enjoyed the physicality what I saw and the message that was hinted at, as opposed to rammed down the audience's throat.

Modern dance has a tendency to "be weird" to the non-dancing audience. Sadly, that may be why companies like OMO must constantly hunt for funds and other stuff. Do you have a digital camcorder or CD/DVD burner that you would like to donate??? Contact Amanda Parris at aparris @ omodance dot com for the OMO wish list.


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