On Friday, Dance Days descend on Victoria for the second year in a row. The 10-day festival, which kicks off with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens doing two performances at the Royal Theatre Friday and Saturday nights, offers a host of opportunities for folks to try out a new dance style, sit in on an open rehearsal or even do yoga in the new Atrium building. With 85 free or by-donation events involving 35 dance studios and artists — the Grands shows are the only ticketed events during the festival — there’s no shortage of ways for Victoria to delve into dance.
But Dance Days isn’t just providing the dance-curious with chances to get involved, it’s also supporting the development of new local dance works. In the midst of Dance Days is the 2011 LOLA Projects, a premiere of four new works that Dance Victoria, the creator of Dance Days, has helped make happen.
Acclaimed Vancouver choreographer Wen Wei Wang of Wen Wei Dance (Unbound, Cock-Pit) has been working with three Victoria choreographers — Leah Wickes, Constance Cooke and Lori Hamar (whose piece, Bloodlines, is pictured above) — to develop their LOLA Project pieces.
“Each one is individual; they’re all different and talented,” says Wang, who selected these three artists from about a dozen applications. “So that’s a good experience for me not just to mentor them, but to dialogue and learn and figure out, to see how we can make the work interesting.” (The fourth LOLA Project is a commission from Vancouver choreographer Joe Laughlin, who created a new work for Victoria’s coMOTION Dance Collective.)
Wickes, one of the city’s up-and-coming dancers and choreographers, worked with Wang on a solo piece inspired by images of herons trapped in oil after the massive spill on the Gulf.
“That’s where Wen Wei was really helpful, because he drew out of me a sense that it’s not like you’re trying to be the bird or copy the image, but it’s there as inspiration and it’s your job as a dancer to find a movement vocabulary that comes from your inspiration,” says Wickes, who hopes to take her 12-minute LOLA Project piece to short-program dance festivals in Vancouver and Seattle. “It was really awe-inspiring because he, himself, is an amazing mover. He would talk about an idea and then he would just start to move. It was almost like he was carrying on the conversation, but without words.”
The 2011 LOLA Projects happen at 7:30pm Sunday at the Metro Studio (1411 Quadra). Admission is by donation. For more details plus a full Dance Days Schedule, visit dancevictoria.com.