Toronto culture picks: A trio of dance performances, and the importance of to-do lists

Dream of the Red Chamber

I’m going to have to polish off my Arty Girl Outfits–it’s a big week in Toronto for dance and theatre and I want to look “thinky.”

First up is a two-nights only performance of Dream of the Red Chamber from the Beijing Friendship Dance Company. The 80-dancer, 800-costume extravaganza is a sure-to-be pretty Chinese Romeo and Juliet tale combining classical ballet and traditional Chinese dance ( Catch the performance at the shiny new Sony Centre for the Performing Arts October 12 to 13.

Next up is the kickoff to the World Stage 2010-2011 performance series at Harbourfront with the internationally acclaimed Out of Context – for Pina, from the award-winning Belgian Les ballets C de la B at Fleck Dance Theatre, October 13 through 16 (

And on Thursday, October 14 I’ll be adding some words to the mix with the opening of the Governor General award-winning play The List starring Allegra Fulton, a Nightwood Theatre production at Berkeley Street Theatre ( about a woman who overlooks one item on her to-do list with dramatic results.

Phew. I feel more cultured already.

On now:

Two large foam blocks provide the set and metaphor for Toronto contemporary dance company ProArteDanza’s first “evening-length” production, in between (from $22, until October 9, Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre, 416-973-4000,, which is themed around instability, transition, crisis: the moving of one state to the next. The eight athletic, powerful dancers (these are not the reedy sylphs of classical ballet, although those techniques are gorgeously incorporated) make good use of the blocks—they leap onto them and over them, sit and sprawl on them, fall off them. At one point, all the dancers attempt to stand and balance on a single upturned one, chatting loudly about how tricky it is. It’s one of a few warm, light-hearted moments that pepper the show, interspersed with fluid, intense routines infused with more serious, heartfelt emotion. It’s only on until October 9—if you miss it this time, be sure to watch for the company’s next outing.–Rani Sheen

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