Last night, as I took a seat on the curb across from 92 London Street, a man with a young boy turned to me and asked if I had been to Kaeja d’Dance, Porch View Dances before. I told him I had not and he assured me that I was in for something wonderful. He was right.
Several years ago, Karen Kaeja looked out her window one night and wondered what was happening behind closed doors in her neighborhood. That thought was the beginning of this site-specific dance piece. 2014 marks the third year for Porch View Dances, this year taking place in the hippy-esque Seaton Village neighborhood.
The charismatic Allen Kaeja, who regaled us with local history and funny anecdotes, led spectators to the various locations the production was taking place. At each home, the audience was introduced to a family or group of friends who told a story through dance. Choreographed by professionals, everyday people with little or no dance training are transformed into dancers and storytellers. I was completely enchanted by the concept.
Every number captivated me and I loved how often children were incorporated into the numbers. Simple stories and slices of life were made poetic by the inspired choreography. I was surprised and thrilled that one of my favourite playwrights, Judith Thompson and her family, were featured in one of the dances.
I was part of a community last night. I joined a group to walk through a quaint neighborhood just before dusk. I could smell sweet blossoms in the air. There was the laughter of children and the compliance of motorists who were stopped by cyclists with signs that read ‘roads are for people, and the people are dancing’. I loved the blur between life and theater, professional and amateur; how simple moments in life can be made into art, depending on the perspective you choose.
To wrap up the night, we were led to a local park where people were encouraged to take an interesting shape on the wall and be traced in chalk by a friend. Finally, we were encouraged to join in a giant group dance.
Porch View Dances is only on for a few nights, so catch it if you can.
July 16-20, 2014 – Performances Wed-Sat at 7pm, Sun at 4pm