You've come a long way, OMO

OMO Dance Company celebrated its 11th Anniversary Toronto Season, having recently triumphed in Geneva and Turkey. I have had a long time relationship with OMO Dance Company but never have I been as impressed with their work as I was last Saturday.

There were two standout pieces. The first was If Only performed by dancer Almond Small. Small is anything but, be it of stature or of presence. His power cannot be denied, nor can his grace - in him John Henry meets Nijinsky. The piece itself, scored with music reminiscent of Frankie Goes to Hollywood done using strings written by Steve Reich. The set is but a simple two tier box to represent a mountain and clearly (in this case) the Black man's struggle. This was a very Art Deco performance reminding me of the artwork of Diego Rivera. Impressive.

The second is untitled: one of the things that I have always liked about Artistic Director and choreographer Debbie Wilson is the fact that her work is always evolving. I admire her willingness to share her work as it is in progress as it allows the audience (and critics like myself) to be a part of the creative process.

This Untitled piece had better get a name soon as it is a work of pure genius. It illustrates the hustle and bustle of of urban space - and Wilson isn't even done yet! Duke Bojadziev' music is French Techno that is actually totally thrilling.

If dance company La La La Human Steps (known for its work with David Bowie) is to be noted for its death defying leaps and throws, then OMO has made its mark with its lifts. Never have I seen the execution of lifts like this! This is a performance that is meant for film and, as Wilson pointed out to me, the next incarnations of this piece will involve a video component as will as sets. While I am not sure if this piece truely needs sets, the video aspect does intrigue me.

Like Small, dancer Anthony Guerra is another powerhouse of this company who happened to be a collaborator in the choreography of this untitled work, along with dancer Christy Adamson. My cousin, Middle Eastern dance instructor Valizan - who incidently first introduced me to OMO - would have been impressed with Guerra's shimmies, belly rolls and passionate activity.

But it is dancer Agata Mirosz, in her first season with OMO, who stole the show. Her gift of both physical performance, expression and even humour is priceless. This young woman is someone to watch.

The performances did have its weaker points: Red definitions #1 and #6 did not keep my attention particularly. But all and all, this weekend's performance showed why OMO Dance Company is making its mark on the world stage.

[Photo by David Hou; performer Almond Small in If Only]

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