Eros, Thanatos & the Avant-Garde ~ The Cabaret Series

Eros, Thanatos & the Avant-Garde ~ The Cabaret Series was founded in the spring of 2005, and has called the Rivoli in Toronto, Ontario home ever since. It has grown to become a vital link in the Canadian Dance Scene, benefiting not only the artists that it showcases by giving them much-needed opportunities to develop their choreographic craft, but also contributing to the cultural richness of Toronto as well.  Eros spearheads the overall Dance 2 Danse initiative to create bridges that connect dance artists to new dance audiences.

Eros, Thanatos & the Avant-Garde occurs at the Rivoli bi-monthy six times a year on a Wednesday evening. The Series presents a diversity of work created in all disciplines of dance, choreographed and performed by emerging and experienced artists from across Canada. These works are connected by the epic themes of sex, love, death, passion and the avant- garde—in keeping with the name of the Cabaret series itself. These themes have been collected from the performing arts and are universal to all cultures, dance forms and modes of creative expression. This broad spectrum of influences accurately reflects the vast cultural and artistic resources that co-exist in Canada today.

In addition to our regular Cabaret shows, The Eros Cabaret Series presented “The Eros Boulevard Cabaret” on the front patio at the Rivoli as an official part of Nuit Blanche in October 2009. Drawing on the artistic, cultural, comedic and musical heritage of the Rivoli, The Boulevard Cabaret featured a diverse array of short works created in all disciplines of dance, choreographed and performed live by emerging and established artists from across Canada. The show consisted of 120 six-minute time slots, 50 of which were live dance performances and 70 film shorts.

The response that we received from the half a million people who arrived during the course of the event was truly amazing! The audience was captivated by the diversity of dance and images that emerged and transformed every six minutes, changing the entire tone and atmosphere of the show in the blink of an eye. Plans for Nuit Blanche 2010 are currently underway, and I promise that this year’s installment will be even more spectacular.

The Cabaret is the perfect venue for Dance Artists to try out new ideas or showcase an excerpt from a larger work under actual performance conditions. Thrust out into the space with audience on three sides, it becomes readily apparent to performers and audience alike when a work is falling short of the mark or when a dancer has achieved perfection. There is quite simply nowhere to hide. Performers are encouraged to create brave dance works that take risks and interact with, or acknowledge their audience. Originality, enthusiasm, risk-taking, multi-media and / or unusual approaches to performance, along with a demonstrated understanding of the audience and venue dynamics combine well to make for an exciting performance event.

Curatorial Process: In order to be selected to perform at the Eros Cabaret, artists are required to submit a proposal for a dance work to the Artistic Director. Performance proposals are welcomed at all times. A brief C.V. and history of training and performance must be included, along with any support material relevant to their application.

Artist applicants are informed that the performance space consists of a main floor area (approx 22 x 24 feet), a smaller stage area and a set of stairs that link the two. Performers are limited to work that is no longer than six minutes in length unless granted permission in advance by the Artistic Director.  Currently, Choreographers are paid an artist fee of $40 per piece.  There is no application or processing fee.

All Dance Artist’s—whether their professional practice be Modern, Ballet, Middle Eastern, Commercial, Turkish, Flamenco, forms of Indian Classical or Urban / Hip Hop etc. are equally welcome to submit a proposal and deserve an opportunity for presentation. To date, Middle Eastern, Flamenco, Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Classical Indian and Urban are among the dance techniques that have been showcased at the Eros Cabaret. Our audience is diverse, and consequently they enjoy a unique and equally diverse performance experience.

The Cabaret actively seeks to present emerging dance artists. The most difficult time for graduates is the first two years of their new dance careers. The Cabaret series offers a professional development opportunity to help bridge this difficult period and accumulate valuable performance experience. By presenting the work of emerging artists alongside that of more experienced professionals, the Eros Cabaret offers recent graduates an excellent opportunity to build their C.V. and learn directly from their more experienced counterparts. Such interactions are vital to bridge gaps and provide opportunities for new members of the Canadian Dance Community. To date, several emerging choreographers have been fortunate enough to use the Cabaret series as a springboard for their careers, receiving grants from the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council and the Canada Council.

As Artistic Director, I seek to ensure that Cabaret audiences are eager to return and do everything in my power to bring this to reality. I craft an evening filled with surprises, intriguing mysteries and brave performances inches away from their tables. The Cabaret fuses dance, culture, spectacle and social enjoyment, putting the art of dance back in the centre, the very heart of the city where the majority of our audience comes from. I have deliberately chosen to use a venue that is physically and geographically immediate to many thousands of Torontonians and removed the Cabaret from the daunting spectre of “the arts venue.” The Rivoli’s central downtown location is perfect for such an undertaking. The net result is freedom. Freedom to explore, freedom to enjoy; discover and freedom from expectation...and this is only the beginning!

To date, over 107 choreographers and filmmakers have showcased their work at the Eros Cabaret and over a million people have seen our combined efforts, either at an Eros Cabaret Show or on the front patio of the Rivoli during Nuit Blanche.

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