DJD’s ‘New Universe’ doesn’t have much bite

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Decidedly Jazz Danceworks opened New Universe in their new universe. The DJD dance centre, located on 12th avenue downtown is a brand new facility dedicated to jazz dance and the only one like it in the country. It is a beautiful building featuring some amazing studios and an incredible performance theatre.

New Universe is a production broken into 5 parts, featuring music written by William Parker. It is inspired by bugs and insects, creating a production about their world, an imagined dance performance following the narrative of insects.with the dancers creating a rhythm through hisses and clicks.

The first part of the dance entitled Bees to Honey featuring dance Natasha Korney playing with gum as if it were honey. All the other dancers are attracted to it. The dancers move in front of a set designed by Scott Reid which is three columns of objects. The musicians on stage sit on movable platforms, creating the rich music of William Parker.

The second part The Ants Go Marching is an intricate piece featuring the whole company with Kimberly Cooper’s choreography moving them like insects. The dancers negotiate and communicate through hisses and clicks. They turn and circle a table as if they are at a meeting. It’s an interesting piece.

The second half of New Universe includes part 3 Pollen, part 4 Molting, and part 5 New Universe. The pieces in this half are not as compelling. The movement by the dancers is strong, but there is no emotional connection to the choreography on stage. These parts feature costuming from Natalie Purschwitz that strives to capture the insect feel. The white fabric attached to the costuming sometimes isn’t flattering on the dancers. In the end, the curtains open at the back of the theatre and Calgary’s downtown can be seen. We are glad to see DJD performing in their new home.

New Universe by Decidedly Jazz Danceworks runs at the new DJD Dance Centre until June 12th. More information is available online.

Photo Credit: Noel Bégin

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