I bet Peter Quanz’s childhood colouring books are full of drawings with the colours outside of the lines. Over the course of his career as a choreographer, Quanz has earned a reputation for creating avant-garde ballets with his company (and choreography laboratory), Q Dance. However, his creativity is not sloppy or mere spontaneity. It’s calculated, inventive, and left me astonished.
His most recent work is phenomenal. The show is comprised of three short ballets that have been developing and changing over the past eight years. Quanz has been working with the performers to recreate the ballets over and over. The choreography’s tailoring is especially noticeable in the second piece, which, after being performed in Cuba, became a sultry salsa-like duet. Sexy and flirtatious are two words that typically don’t apply to classical ballet, but in this case, they do.
From beginning to end of all three ballets, I was smiling from ear-to-ear. Yes, I was completely entertained, but I was also fascinated by Quanz’s willingness to break the rules. This five hundred year old art form that we call ballet took the stage of the Gas Station Theatre and was riddled with pelvic thrusts, drunken pas-de-deuxs, slapstick comedy, and a multi-media edge that kept the audience on the edge of their seats.
It’s obvious that Quanz took a lot of risks, especially in the third piece, Murder Afoot. Most ballets tell a tragic tale of love and loss, but this was a satirical look at the jealousy and betrayals that happen when the curtains of the ballet world are closed. Imagine this; the quirkiness of the characters from Clue, the intrigue of a murder mystery, and the mimed slapstick from Charlie Chaplin…all “en pointe”. That was Murder Afoot. Plus, it was accompanied by an interesting video element. Characters were dancing up and down the aisles, in the front lobby, and in the backstage dressing rooms, and we were able to follow along on the screen. It added an extremely exciting dimension to the performance.
One of the highlights for me was the duet between Liang Xing and Tristan Dobrowney. Yes, two male dancers. Quanz worked with the two men to choreograph a costume designer’s hilarious pursuit of a principal dancer who does not return his feelings. When the two men performed their pas-de-deux, I was so impressed. A typical pas-de-deux is carefully crafted using a man and woman’s height and weight differences to its advantage. So, this duet between two tall men, that simultaneously managed to show their characters’ quirky personalities and have the audience laughing out loud, was an athletic feat. And, naturally, ended with Tristan putting on a tutu as a disguise and prancing away to the sound of crashing cymbals.
I commend Quanz and his troupe of dancers for creating such a groundbreaking show. It was clear that they collaborated on the experimentation and I applaud them for successfully turning their bright ideas into a creative masterpiece.
*Post by- Megan Zahari
Meghan lives in the Exchange District of Winnipeg with her husband and their pug. When she was little, she was that kid who brought a book onto the playground for recess. Since then, her love for stories has only grown. She spends her days freelance writing, working on children and young adult fiction, and taking creative writing classes through the University of Toronto.