Judith Garay celebrates twenty years, twenty intersections, and twenty dancers


Inspired by Vancouver, its intersections, and its people, 20.20.20 presented a new perspective of the city from September 24 to 27 at SFU Woodward’s. Judith Garay’s sharp, determined choreography was impressively performed by her company, Dancers Dancing.

The back page of the program declares that 20.20.20 is “inspired by interactions of architecture, pigeons, overpasses, green spaces, mountain views, skateboards, and . . . people young and old.” I could see elements of each of these influences throughout the piece, most notably the pigeons. At certain points, the dancers flocked in pigeon-like fashion, moving in a stylized way that clearly evoked birds. They also seemed to emulate flamingoes at one point, standing on one leg for an extended period of time.

The idea of the intersection was also a large focal point of this work; in the opening sequence, dancers crossed the stage in diagonal lines that intersected at centre stage. As they passed each other, they paused to smile or acknowledge each other, but this action quickly turned into indifference and avoidance. This feigned indifference evoked walking down a busy sidewalk and avoiding eye contact for fear of having to interact on any level with a stranger.

The stage was often full of dancers, forming many patterns and moving in an organized chaos, almost colliding but always knowing exactly when to switch directions. This aggressive, focused choreography was balanced with a few slow, calculated segments where one dancer held another up from behind, controlling their movements.

Wearing typical everyday Vancouver attire, the dancers also used air quotes profusely as if to signify that what they were doing was not the real thing, only representative of it. As they moved around the stage and flocked together in a large group, they performed many common gestures that one might be caught doing while waiting awkwardly — things like scratching your nose or pushing your hair behind your ears.

The hopeful ending was beautiful; the dancers slowly walked forward, pausing after each step, as they looked off into the distance while pink petals raining down on a golden lit stage. These dancers were focused, determined, and energetic, much like the bustling streets of Vancouver.

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