Why Short&Sweet Rules by Claire Tacon (2016)
Last year, I showed up at the inaugural Short&Sweet event mainly to support some dancer friends. All I knew were the parameters: three minutes, 11’ x 11’ of performance space, minimal props. Somehow that formula translated into an electric series of performances that stretched the definition of dance far beyond what I’d roped it into. I left amazed by the elasticity of time—how long and how short the same three minutes could feel—and blown away by the spectrum of the art form.
Back in the early ‘80s, a pair of researchers conducted a study on the effect of fences on the play areas of preschool children. They found that without fences, the children didn’t venture far past their teachers. With enclosures, however, they spread out, exploring the entire territory. Each of the dancers at last year’s Short&Sweet responded to the constraints like the kids in the study—instead of appearing penned in, they pushed out with fierce creativity. The work was funny, uncomfortable, surreal. A few moments that have stayed with me: Lindsay Roe’s athletic, emotionally charged solo; the tension Winnie Ho and Simon Portigal created interacting directly with the audience; Lynette Segal and Janet Morton’s tableau of a woman hunched over her knitting while a stranger slowly unraveled the stitches.
This year, presenter Katie Ewald has curated another packed line-up, drawing performers from Montreal and Toronto, as well as local talent. One of the highlights from last year, Guelph dancer Meg O’Donnell, is back, teaming up with Kelly Steadman. Short&Sweet has a cult following in Montreal, where Wants&Needs Danse has been running it for a decade. We’re lucky Katie, Guelph Dance Festival and Kazoo! have partnered up to bring it here—2016 Short&Sweet is going to rule.
Claire Tacon is a local writer and the winner of the 2010 Metcalf-Rooke award (In the Field). Her fiction has been short-listed for the Bronwen Wallace Award, the CBC Literary Awards and has appeared in various Canadian journals and anthologies.
Artist: Robert Kingsbury