Any event that happens 37 times over 37 consecutive years deserves some ample respect, and the annual University of Calgary Dance Montage is no exception. Exuberant dancers of various skill levels chasseed across the University Theatre stage this weekend with flair, flamboyance and fun aplenty. Tickets were near sold out opening night and the theatre was packed--not surprisingly--with friends and family of the 100 some dancers featured in Montage.
Ten different choreographers also provided the program with more than conventional eclecticism. The pieces ranged from an African tribal celebration, enacted by a troupe of enthusiastic and mostly-white dancers, to slinky-armed automatons bouncing to techno beats and beyond. A dark, brooding piece flirting with the avant garde might easily be followed by Sesame Street in drag. This diversity gave all styles a second in the spotlight as well as the dancers attached to them. The resulting ensemble is a melange of dancers ranging from beginner to internationally acclaimed, all performing under similarily credentialed choreographers.
The diversity of the performance, while often acting as a strength, proved to be a double-edged sword. At times, the show doesn't cohere, partly due to a lack of any kind of overarching narrative or theme. Individual pieces often stylistically and thematically clash with one another, producing a jarring effect. The execution of five children's TV ditties, for example, added more frustration than finesse to the program, reinforcing the amateur elements and undercutting the skill of many of the dancers.
Nevertheless, a $10 ticket price is more than reasonable for the energetic entertainment to be had in the annual show, and though it may seem a bit hefty for those who have no connection to the performers themselves, more than die-hard campus culture junkies can appreciate Dance Montage. It is hard not to be in awe of the human form in motion.