This past Wednesday, November 6th was another successful CSA Nooner! In partnership with the University of Guelph, Kaeja d’Dance performed in the Student Hub of the University Centre. Audiences were captivated by Kaeja d’Dance’s excerpt from their newest piece: X-ODUS, choreographed by Allen Kaeja. Kaeja d’Dance is one of Canada’s longest-standing contemporary dance companies, led by husband and wife duo Allen and Karen Kaeja. They have produced award-winning performances, acclaimed dance films and educational outreach programs. They “break ground, instigate risk and bring together dancers and collaborators to create experiences both on and off the stage … [They are] known for athletic intensity, sensual articulation and theatrical imagery.”
X-ODUS pushes boundaries, leaving the structure of the stage and traditional audience/performer roles behind. “To arrive, one has to leave. Departing has never been so sweet” – Allen Kaeja. The dancers in last week’s performance were Karen Kaeja, Stephanie Tremblay-Abubo, Zhenya Cerneacov, and Meredith Plumb. Allen even appeared in the piece from time-to-time.
As noon was approaching, dancers were warming up, Guelph Dance staff was chatting and meeting new people, and onlookers (students, faculty and many children – for bring your child to work day) were beginning to swarm around the student hub in the University Centre. Once the music began, attention was caught in all directions. The dancers started their piece and students with mouths full of food began to watch. It didn’t take long to captivate and build the audience.
The beat of the music complemented the passion the dancers conveyed. The performance became interactive when 5 volunteers from the audience were brought into the piece. It was hard for the audience to determine whether or not this had been premeditated. The volunteers were chosen only minutes before the performance and didn’t know what was expected of them. They went with the flow and added a new dimension to the piece.
Throughout the majority of the performance Allen Kaeja sat and watched with other audience members. He observed with a smile and an obvious sense of pride. This charismatic choreographer seemed to enjoy every minute he spent in the University Centre that day, as did his dancers. Allen appears to be a great leader to a great team.
Janet Johnson, Guelph Dance’s co-artistic coordinator, said after the performance “Allen and Karen Kaeja are the king and queen of contact improv.”