While the leaves are falling this autumn, HCA Dance + Theatre is turning over a new one.
In September, the Hamilton Conservatory for the Arts (HCA) Dance branch expanded to include theatre within its mandate. And in presenting the fall edition of their Performing Arts Sunday Series (PASS), this new commitment to a variety of artistic experiences is clear.
Between October and December, the HCA Dance + Theatre program will present a number of renowned Canadian musicians, dancers and theatre performers. Many will also offer training opportunities to Hamilton artists, students and young professionals, in line with the HCA’s mission to cultivate a professional artistic environment.
The training- and music program- officially begin this weekend, as Canadian baritone Russell Braun and accompanist Carolyn Maule host an opera masterclass with six emerging collaborative singer-pianist duos on October 16. During this experience, Braun and Maule will coach the ensembles on repertoire and performance. Audiences interested in observing the mentorship process of how these collaborations bring operatic work to life are invited to attend, with tickets available for ten dollars.
Braun and Maule will team up again a week later; this time taking center stage for a performance of their own at the HCA’s Black Box Theatre on October 23. Braun and Maule have travelled the world together, with Braun’s performances bringing him to some of the most renowned operatic stages in the world including Milan’s La Scala, the Metropolitan Opera in New York and l’Opera de Paris. As a duo, the two have been featured on Grammy-nominated and JUNO-winning recordings, and can frequently be heard on BBC and CBC radio.
The fall music program will continue in November with pianist David Jalbert and the Park/St.John/Mercer Trio in December.
Theatre is highlighted through the PASS Series with the presentation of Shawn Wright’s Ghost Light. A one-day-only event, Ghost Light is Wright’s first play and tells the story of his relationship with his mother, and how the matriarch inspired his passion for theatre and love for life.
Wright is well-known in Canadian theatre, having performed in multiple productions at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and Shaw Festival; and holding roles in the Toronto cast of Jersey Boys and North American cast of Mamma Mia. Currently, Wright performs in Toronto as part of the cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
The titular dance in the company’s name is represented on November 13 with a presentation by Peggy Baker Dance Projects. The acclaimed Canadian dance company sold out the FirstOntario Concert Hall when they were presented by the McMaster’s Socrates Project. Rather than perform live, in their presentation as part of the PASS series, the dance company will screen her body as words. The short films, developed by choreographer Peggy Baker and filmmaker Jeremy Mimnagh fragment and explode notions of female identity as expressed by nine Canadian dance artists embodying their lived identities. Dancing the complexities of their lived identities, these artists offer gestural renderings touching on themes of race, gender expression, sexual orientation, pregnancy, miscarriage, motherhood, disability, and aging.
“The choreography arose from conversations around the philosophy, worldview, and lived experience of each dancer,” says Baker in her artistic statement. “I chose the performers by turning to highly distinctive colleagues in willing to bring their identity and politics in the forefront of this project. These dancers have all navigated treacherous territory to bring this work into being.”
Following the November 13 screening, company founder Peggy Baker will offer a talkback to audience members to provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the creative process.