There are some things one doesn’t forget. Take for example, a U of C 101 experience in the aged University Theatre that left me with one hour of my life I’ll never get back. Since then, my butt has held a certain apprehension when invited to return to that theatre.
Fortunately, those fears were put aside when the Faculty of Fine Arts hosted the opening of the newly renovated University Theatre September 27. These are the first changes to the theatre since it opened in 1966, and they include improvements such as new paint and carpet backstage, in the lobby and mezzanine gallery area, new drapes on-stage and the removal of asbestos tile for obvious safety reasons.
Thankfully, the renovations also include a whole new set of chairs for the audience’s sitting enjoyment, which was also the single most expensive cost to the program, totaling approximately $350,000.
The Theatre was ceremonially opened to crowd of students, sponsors and alumni that “ooo-ed” and “ahh-ed” at the interior of the venue, and were mostly struck by the chairs that had supplied so much grief in the past. It only took a few seconds to reinforce that this theatre is the premier theatrical venue on campus and these renovations create an opportunity for students and the community to rediscover it.
Of course, dance and drama students will experience the most benefit from this updated venue since they use it year-round as a practice and performance space. Yet the Faculty of Fine Arts also expects the renovations to make the theatre more attractive for renters from the community. And if the community doesn’t take notice now, they’ll certainly notice the $750,000 worth of new renovations expected in the near future.
It’s unfortunate that University Theatre couldn’t have a better performance featured at its grand opening. “Sharp Edges” is the first of three presentations in the Dance Program’s “Professional Series.” While the highlight of the show was a high-energy, entertaining piece performed by Calgary’s Decidedly Jazz Danceworks, the rest left the audience confused by the “edgy” movement pieces that were reminiscent of derogatory interpretive dance stereotypes.
The pinnacle of the strangeness came from performer/choreog-rapher Davida Monk in her short (thankfully) presentation entitled “what their goldenness peers into usâ€| let it hover / let it find us / let it come.” I think I missed the message that was implicit in the dancer scrapping herself with a bloody antler.
Except for the Decidedly Jazz Danceworks piece choreographed by Michele Moss, the rest of the “Sharp Edges” was a reviewer’s nightmare. It placed me in the most awkward artistic position: my first urge was to give a giant thumbs down, but I was afraid to do it in public for fear I’ll be labeled as an opponent of progressive expression.
A reviewer with no place to put a thumb.
By all means, go out of your way to see future shows by Decidedly Jazz Danceworks. Feel free to skip the rest, and have a discerning eye when it comes to the future installments of the “Professional Series.”