Family Dinner at Dancing on the Edge 2014
The Perfect Dance Critic – Miguel Gutierrez
The perfect dance critic does not exist.
The perfect dance critic works for the perfect arts editor, who does not exist. The perfect dance critic writes in the perfect arts publication, which also does not exist. The perfect dance critic doesn’t secretly wish that everything was the way it used to be. The perfect dance critic doesn’t secretly love ballet more than anything else and feel like she’s just slumming when she sees “downtown” work.
The perfect dance critic can talk about individual pieces in relationship to the pieces that the choreographer has made before, and can write about how the piece fits in terms of the evolution of the work. The perfect dance critic understands that “technique” is a vast term that applies to the ways in which dancers can access effectively and intelligently the numerous expressive possibilities that are available to them in their bodies. The perfect dance critic understands that “virtuosity” can apply to the most idiosyncratic of weight shifts.
The perfect dance critic has an awareness of what the postmodern movement in dance expressed, achieved, and how it lives in our consciousness today.
The perfect dance critic does not live in a time warp that shuttles him between now at City Center and 1950 when he irreversibly decided what dance was, is, and can only be.
The perfect dance critic can describe movement vocabulary, and speculate as to what the choices of movement vocabulary mean in relationship to or how they help to shape the larger vision that the dance artist offers.
The perfect dance critic knows that the choreographer’s choices are integrally related to the selection of dancers that she has working with her.
The perfect dance critic understands that the dancer is an artist and not merely a tool of the choreographer’s or director’s work.
The perfect dance critic can articulate the qualities of individual dancer’s energetic presence in the work.
The perfect dance critic understands that beyond movement vocabulary, dance work is a total aesthetic experience and can therefore elaborate on the contributions or selections of music, set design, costumes and lighting in more than one-sentence toss-offs. The perfect dance critic can write about these aspects of performance with ease and intelligence because the perfect dance critic is well-informed has a comprehensive interest in all aspects of performance.
The perfect dance critic can make references to artists and ideas from other forms of performing and visual arts when trying to contextualize work.
The perfect dance critic discusses the implications of the different cultural representations of gender, race, sexual orientation or class in the work. The perfect dance critic acknowledges his own cultural position when addressing these issues, and how that cultural position may shape his feelings or responses.
The perfect dance critic gets excited when she sees something that’s different, unusual, challenging, or thought provoking, rocks her world, and writes about it with accompanying vigor.
The perfect dance critic writes in a way that is contemporaneous with the time we are living in.
The perfect dance critic knows when it’s time to quit, change careers or retire.
Published in the Movement Research Journal #25 Dance Writing, Fall 2002
Idle – December 2008
*Ashleigh:* I felt that the strongest performance of the night was _Idle_, performed by Justine A. Chambers and Sylvain Senez. This piece was an excerpt of Chambers’ larger work, and I would happily pay to see a full-length show featuring this choreographer and performer. _Idle_, an intimate duet, saw connection and continuity between Chambers and Senez, even in their exploration of idleness. Movements were fresh and full and the thematic expression compelling. This seductive piece reflected more of a traditional dance performance rather than the experimental interdisciplinary work of some of the other artists and it did so beautifully.
*Rachel:* It was gorgeous and I will go with you to see the full-length version. The way that the two dancers shared their weight and moved with each other was riveting. This piece made me fall in love with contemporary dance and want to see more of Chamber’s choreography. However, to be devil’s advocate, I didn’t really see what risk there was in re-mounting a work that had already been done in 2003. The artists aren’t going somewhere that they haven’t been before. For me, it wasn’t raw enough to warrant a place in a night of boundary pushing. Breathtaking, oh yes. Risky? Maybe not. But all in all, a stunning evening of dance performance. Not stunning because it was perfect, but stunning because everyone was so present.
On Any Given Day – July 2009
The Georgia Straight
But the highlight of the night, Justine Chambers’s mesmerizing On Any Given Day, was as serene and crystalline as a tubular bell. Set to a symphony of musical chimes, it found Chambers strutting, squatting, and sauntering around the stage, her graceful hands flicking repeatedly like levers in a carillon. It was simply entrancing—made all the more so by the outrageous carnival that surrounded it on the program.
On Any Given Day
Choreography and performance by Justine A. Chambers
A contemplative, gorgeously choreographed piece, this suffered slightly for its placement in the program. After the successful blend of energetic Strathcona High Class of ’56, it was difficult as an audience member to come down to earth for the restrained and introverted On Any Given Day.
That said, this was clearly a work of great skill, a dancer’s work of dance and it deserved an attentive audience. Incorporating a complete range of movement, from the mechanical and spastic to the fluid and graceful, Chambers proved that her body is her instrument and that she knows how to play. She made little use of the floor, focusing instead on upright postures. These covered everything from traditional pirouettes and leg lifts, to more modern poses – bends and squats that emphasize the athleticism of a body as much as its grace. Her motions were finely tuned – the angle of her wrist was as important as the placement of her leg or torso.
Set to a mystical score by Sufjan Stevens, On Any Given Day comes across as a studied work in the best possible sense: it is not narrative rather about the relationship between the dancer and the music. Chambers’ choreography is complex and exacting, and one senses that she never loses sight of her intentions during the performance. Though there is plenty of detail her work, there is no extraneous movement, no frills and no fluff. Every gesture is reasoned, weighted, and placed just where it needs to be.
Caesura – July 2010
The Georgia Straight
Talented local choreographer Justine Chambers created a mesmerizing duet for the Contingency Plan, set to the trance-y, chime-laden sounds of Oval. Called Caesura, it was about the way we take pauses in our daily lives, and found dancers Vanessa Goodman and Jane Osborne—normally known for more comedic work—finding a dreamy space between waking and sleeping. Their arms swung like pendulums. They looked from side to side as if they’d just been roused. And their bodies collapsed onto the floor.
It was a small but entrancing study that highlighted Chambers’s ability to find a signature vocabulary that’s somehow loose but fractured, smooth but punctuated with stops and starts.
A Study for Enters and Exits – Dance All Sorts – May 13, 2012
|Reviewed by: Tessa PerkinsFor the final show of their fourteenth Dance Allsorts series, New Works presented a program that included a short version of a larger work that Justine A. Chambers is currently working on, along with four pieces performed by the Arts Umbrella Dance Company and its apprentices. From professional contemporary dance to more ballet based works from a pre-professional company, this was a great Dance Allsorts show that celebrated different types of choreography and, as always, the art form of dance.A Study for Enters and Exits by Justine A. Chambers is a shorter preview of her in-progress full length work, Enters and Exits, which studies the gestures and social behaviours of liminal spaces such as waiting rooms, lobbies, corridors, and vestibules. The three dancers in this piece move through two doorways in a curtain wall that separates a portion of the stage from view, and their silhouettes are shown on the white doors as they dance out of sight.
The piece began with only one dancer moving through one of the doorways, and she slowly made her way through it to dance in front of it, performing different movements that might be seen by people standing in a line up or waiting area. It was a very interesting piece of choreography, and it was interesting that we never saw all three dancers at once. They moved through the two doorways almost as if they were connected to each other: As one moved out the door, the other went back in.