All she wants to do is dance, dance, dance

Local dance troupe looking forward to upcoming performance, but don’t expect to see any male performers

A scene from Young Lungs Dance Exchange’s upcoming No Idling show.

“Where have all the young men gone?” was a line in a ‘60s folksong by Peter, Paul and Mary, but the line is even more applicable to the Winnipeg professional dance scene.

Not that anyone could complain about seeing choreography by seven talented female dancers. Still, why is there no male dancer connected with the group?

Natasha Torres-Garner is a co-founder of Young Lungs Dance Exchange and co-producer of the 2009 edition of No Idling, one of the group’s annual events.

“Something in our Canadian culture denies males enjoyment of expression and movement of their bodies, the idea of finding and expressing beauty through dance. This creates a unique form of inequality within the dance community,” Torres-Garner wrote in an e-mail interview. “Any man entering that community, if a hard worker and dedicated artist, will have a much easier time finding a job than a female dancer.”

In an earlier telephone conversation, she indicated “the cultural problem is due to homophobia, that young males fear being labelled homosexual if they take up dance. This, however, is not the same in the hip-hop culture where male dancers are well accepted.”

She added that, for some reason, there does not appear to be a culturally enforced phobia in Quebec.

The upcoming weekend will see performances, either as choreographers or dancers or both, by Alison Robson, Johanna Riley, Tanja Woloshen, Renee Vandale, Branwyn Bundon, Johanna Bundon, and Ming Hon.

For those familiar with the anorexic culture of ballet, contemporary dance may be a culture shock.

“The aesthetics are quite different. Ballet is based on a classical aesthetic, which means a form and an image had already been created in which the dancer had to fit. Also, so much of ballet is based on a clear sensation of weightlessness. Beauty, elegance and magic are found in seeing a woman float through space as if weightless,” Torres-Garner said.

“The aesthetic in contemporary dance is based on the individual who is featured, not for their ability to inhabit a preconceived idea, but for their ability to create a new one. Also, contemporary dance focuses on a sense of grounding: the use of the floor and your relationship to the floor is a constant element of the training.”

Johanna Riley, another co-founder and co-producer, said in an e-mail that “she was part of a group of dancers who wanted to come together to help ourselves and each other to create and perform dance works.”

This was the motivation behind the creation of Young Lungs in 2004.

Riley’s piece is a duet titled “In Sight.” Inspired by “the circulatory system and cellular structures and functions,” Riley wants “the dancers to be seen as cells or as though they are moving through different parts of the body, like the veins.”

No Idling promises to be a varied and entertaining show. Tickets are $12.00 and will be available at the door. See you there. Particularly the young male dancers of Winnipeg. Your absence has been noted. Have you been idling?

See No Idling at the Gas Station Theatre Feb. 6-7 at 8 p.m. Visit

Published in Volume 63, Number 19 of The Uniter (February 5, 2009)

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