A&E » Arts

Love of movement

Whistler Arts Council kicks off annual performance series with Motus O Dance



What: Variations In Love

When: Friday, Oct. 24, 8 p.m.

Where: MY Millennium Place

Admission: $19 adult, $16 WAC members, $10 children

What do a sheep shearer, gymnast and figure skater have in common? Dance. Well, more specifically, a love of movement.

You see, the three artistic directors of the Ontario-based Motus O Dance company, James Croker, Cynthia Croker, and Jack Langenhuizen, come from very different backgrounds; James was a sheep shearer, Cynthia, a gymnast, and Langenhuizen, a figure skater.

Cynthia began to dance when she was five years old, studying ballet, tap, jazz and modern. But gymnastics was one of her first loves.

“The interesting thing is that we’re all sort of sports fanatics,” she said, adding that their interests touch on everything from cross-country running to rugby. “We’re… really physical in our expression.”

It’s clear that they all appreciate diversity, drawing inspiration from street theatre and stage performance. James, who has quite a bit of experience in street theatre, brings the element of Laban movement to the table.

“We have kind of a wide breadth of dance training, but other training, as well,” she explained.

The three met up at a performing arts school in the early ’90s and, inspired by the creative, internationally influenced environment, developed a vision for their own company. They pooled their money and purchased a house in Stoufville, Ontario to live and work out of.

“We wanted to start our own company because we were very interested in communication ideas through dance,” Cynthia explained. “Most dance companies back when we started… were submitted to a certain form of dance, and everything was sort of submitted to that. We work a little differently. We’re very character-driven, so all the movement is submitted to a character or an idea.”

Their diverse backgrounds have led to a very different approach to a dance company — their focus isn’t strictly on dance itself. Motus O, literally translated in Latin, is “the method of movement.”

The dance choices and all physicality within their performances are a direct product of the underlying story.

“Then it becomes a much more diverse expression,” she said, adding that while this was an innovative approach when the company first started in the early ’90s, this is now commonly labeled as physical theatre.

The visionaries behind Motus O Dance believe that the key to engaging an audience is not only through movement, but also by drawing them into the story using the proper rise and fall of conflict and resolution through the underlying story.