Joe Laughlin Takes the Stage in the Exquisite World Premiere of Joe: A Solo Show

From Joe Ink, and Vancouver dance luminary Joe Laughlin, comes the world premiere of Joe: A Solo Showthree nights only from October 18 – 20, 2018 at 8pm at the Scotiabank Dance Centre. Audiences will be treated to three distinct solos from three diverse choreographers: Vancouver dance artist Amber Funk Barton, Montreal-based choreographer Gioconda Barbuto, and internationally-renowned South African choreographer Vincent Mantsoe. The culmination of a profound process of personal, physical, and artistic discovery, the solos are skillfully woven together with voiceover by the artists to create a richly nuanced tapestry that encapsulates Laughlin through the eyes of each of his esteemed colleagues.

Hailed as “a chameleon” by The Globe and Mail, Laughlin’s athletic background and versatility has informed more than 60 highly inventive creations for Joe Ink and such esteemed organizations as the National Arts Centre, the Banff Centre, the Canada Dance Festival, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and the Johannesburg-based Moving into Dance Mophatong, to name a few. His excellence in choreography – influenced by classical to contemporary and hip-hop to gymnastics – has been recognized with the Clifford E. Lee Award for Choreography, the Jacqueline Lemieux Prize, and the Isadora Award, among others.

“I feel privileged to be presenting a 60-minute solo show at this stage in my career. Exploring new aspects of my physical capabilities while navigating an ageing body is a welcome challenge,” explains Laughlin. “I love each of these dancers/choreographers, both as artists and as friends. There is a certain alchemy that happens during the creative process, an intermingling of spirits, and experiencing that magic with each of them has enriched me as a performer and as a choreographer.”

Amber Funk Barton, to whom Laughlin has been a mentor, is the artistic director of Vancouver-based dance company ‘the response’. As a choreographer, Barton has had her work presented in various venues in Vancouver, across Canada, and internationally at the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff, Wales and the NW New Works Festival in Seattle, WA.

In Silas, she has created an uplifting solo for Laughlin depicting humanity’s agricultural connection to the land. Inspired by John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, it conjures images of the grace and dignity in agricultural labour, honouring the honesty and steadfastness of those who toil day after day and find joy in their work and surroundings. Set to music by Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire, as interpreted by Vitamin String Quartet, the piece is at once nostalgic and thoroughly modern.

When internationally esteemed Italian-Canadian dancer and choreographer Gioconda Barbuto shared the Clifford E. Lee Award for Choreography with Laughlin in 1996, the two became dear friends and artistic collaborators. In addition to her celebrated career as a performer with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens and Nederlands Dans Theater III, she has unflaggingly pursued her choreographic calling, creating detailed, dynamic friezes of full-bodied gesture, marked by her innate musicality.

Long Story Short is the product of an intimate collaboration between Barbuto and Laughlin in which the two artists curated a series of meaningful photographs from Laughlin’s life. Barbuto then crafted the solo for Laughlin based on the animated, expressive gestures that punctuate Laughlin’s body language as he shared the stories behind the images. The result is a deeply personal and emotionally resonant abridgment of Laughlin’s life story, communicated through dance. Music by award-winning Vancouver composer Owen Belton provides an electro-acoustic backdrop for this exquisite journey through movement and memory.

Internationally lauded dancer and choreographer Vincent Mantsoe has shared his uniquely spiritual and compassionate approach to dance with audiences around the world. Hailing from the South African Township of Soweto, Mantsoe danced with Moving Into Dance Mophatong (MIDM), one of the first integrated dance companies in South Africa. Currently based in France, Mantsoe has been recognized for his excellence with prestigious awards in South Africa, Angola, France, Canada, and the United States. In 1999, Laughlin travelled to South Africa to choreograph a piece for MIDM as part of a cultural exchange, and the two forged an enduring connection.

In GIYA, the third and final solo during the program, which means “dance” in EseZulu, Mantsoe transforms and layers Zulu dances traditionally performed by women over the sensual strains of Astor Piazolla’s iconic tango anthem, Oblivion. Vibrant, commanding and physically demanding, this work explores the fertile space of cultural exchange. It is a celebration of the power that can be found in the simplicity and fragility of life.

Single tickets for Joe: A Solo Show are now on sale at ticketstonight.ca.

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