three women by MOonhORseE Dance Theatre
The year 2000 saw a good variety of independent Canadian dance presented by Public Energy (then known as Peterborough New Dance), including Bill Coleman and Laurence Lemieux’s program of duets and Holy Body Tattoo’s Circa. However, the program with the strongest staying power in my memory is Claudia Moore’s 45 minute multi-disciplinary work three women (Claudia seems to have a conflicted relationship with capital letters), performed on February 17 and 18 at Peterborough’s Market Hall Theatre.
What chiefly distinguished three women was the richness of its visual design, created by Jan Komarek’s exquisite, deceptively simple lighting on Julie Fox’s white set. Working on the show as a lighting assistant was Kim Purtell, who went on to become one of the most in-demand lighting designers in the country. The look of the piece was just one element in Claudia’s vision for a complete dance/theatre experience that incorporated spoken text and song, as well as music, set and costumes created by some of Canada’s best talent. One of these was Peterborough resident John Lang, a Gemini-winning composer with a distinguished career creating music for dance, film, theatre and television. John’s work for three women was a tour de force, incorporating a variety of musical styles from around the world, for which he called on a dozen local artists1 to contribute different voices and sounds to the richly textured score.
While the heavy lifting of choreography and writing is credited to all three dancers – Claudia, Bonnie Kim and Fiona Drinnan – a who’s who of Toronto dance and theatre talent are thanked or credited as coaches and consultants on the project, particularly Katherine Duncanson, Denise Fujiwara, Linda Griffiths, Martha Randall and Lin Snelling2. The assembling of so much talent can be credited in part to the respect with which Claudia is viewed in Canada’s dance community, and in part I think to the organization that supported the development of the work: Toronto’s hot-house for theatrical creation, the Theatre Centre, at the time directed by David Duclos.
For me, all the elements – choreography, concept, lighting, music – come together in one of my favourite dance sequences of all time, what I call the ‘egg dance’, a sequence that not so subtly, but with much humour, suggested one of the work’s main themes: women’s fertility. Fitting perhaps for a work inspired by Sylvia Plath’s Three Women: A Poem for Three Voices. As Claudia wrote in the program notes: “Plath’s words encouraged us to celebrate, to grieve and to cherish.” And that’s exactly what the dance did.
- They were Pamela Barron, Don Dawson, Allie Hearn, Diane Latchford, Brenna MacCrimmon, Susan Newman, John Oosterbroock, Craig Paterson, Tom Reader, Diana Smith, Kate Story, and Nick Oval
- As well as Daniel Brooks, Leah Cherniak, David Duclos, Mark Christmann, Gerry Trentham, and Keith Cole (!)