When Svetlana Lunkina, one of the world's foremost ballerinas, arrived in Toronto fresh from the Bolshoi Ballet just a few years ago, she was greeted with enthusiasm, and a touch of curiosity. What would Toronto do with a star of her stature? At 18, Lunkina was the youngest dancer to perform the role of Giselle in the history of the Bolshoi, and her debut cast no doubt about her future. She rocketed to principal and danced for fifteen years in the great theatre.
Classical ballet competitions tend to be thought of as showy, tutu-filled events, as seen in films like First Position—overflowing auditoriums with the best of the best onstage. Some at the prestigious level, such as Youth America Grand Prix and Switzerland’s Prix de Lausanne, do indeed feature tutus and performances, but many grassroots competitions, where students compete for prize money or scholarships to further their dance dreams, are done in leotards and tights, with participants judged principally on classroom work—barre and centre basics.
Ballet galas showcasing the world's top dancing talent are in vogue. They have been popping up in cities all around the world from Tokyo to Buenos Aires, and as of February, Toronto courtesy of the National Ballet of Canada's principal dancer Svetlana Lunkina.
Before I tell you all about the inaugural Transform Festival, four words: Nicole Klaymoon’s Embodiment Project. The name has circulated among San Francisco dance fans since Klaymoon began making hip hop dance theater here in 2010, but so far the group has only toured to Oregon and Kenya, and they should be known everywhere. “Ancient Children,” the closer on the Transform Festival’s penultimate night, simply possesses the stage. The performers are charismatic, the hip-hop dance commanding, the truths delivered unflinching. In case I haven’t been emphatic enough: Call up your local presenter. You need to see this.
The Bureau of Meteorology La Trobe St. Weather Station, near to the Carlton Gardens, has always intrigued me. A triangular wedge of fenced-off green, on the city’s fringe, it looks like an art installation or a performance space. With a tiny garden shed, and unfamiliar equipment to measure climatic changes and patterns neatly dotted and connected by pathways, it is not so unlike the world Chunky Move’s Anouk van Dijk and Singaporean artist and filmmaker, Ho Tzu Nyen, have set up for their collaborative work, “Anti-Gravity.”