by Paula Citron
Red Sky Performance
Choreographed by Sandra Laronde and Roger Sinha
Performed by Julie Choquette, Carlos Rivera and Raul Talamante (Canada), Caihong, Morigen and Wei Jie (Inner Mongolia) and musicians Rick Sacks (Canada) and Tuvshinjargal Damdinjav, Bat-Orshikh Bazarvaani and Batmend Baasankhuu (Mongolia)
Fleck Dance Theatre
TONO is a ravishingly beautiful dance work, but one that seems slightly disjointed.
Sandra Laronde founded Toronto-based Red Sky Performance in 2000 to be a voice for Aboriginal arts. Her inspiration for TONO is the shared culture of the indigenous peoples of Canada, Mongolia and China’s Inner Mongolia.
For both Laronde and Montreal co-choreographer Roger Sinha, the three countries represent the endless plains that gave home to the magnificent figure of the horse.The bulk of the work is devoted to images of the horse and its enduring close relationship with humans.
Three dancers from Inner Mongolia bring agile and supple bodies skilled in contortion and tumbling. The three Canadians are modern dancers with experience in traditional indigenous dance. The various evocations of the horse are gorgeous, from wild gallops to gentle, slow motion isolation of tissues and sinews. The music score is superb.
At times, the lyrical parts seem repetitive, while the ever flow of sequences seem to lack a coherent sequence. Shaminism also inspired the piece, but there is really not a sense of the spirit world because the choreography is so wonderfully anchored in the glorious reality of the horse itself.
Nonetheless, the creators should be congratulated on a wonderful achievement that embraces two different cultures with pride.