Edmonton Journal: Sara Does A Solo: Multidisciplinary Mile Zero Dance Show Tackles Motherhood, Aging and Identity

Dec 05 2019

Outrageously funny and brutally vulnerable solo by Toronto’s Sara Porter

This season, Mile Zero Dance (MZD) is curious about what artists/dancers have to say as ethical witnesses to a dying planet, and can the fragility of the human body act as a catalyst for seeing hope?

Toronto-based artist Sara Porter is the next dancer that has captured the interest of MZD Artistic Director Gerry Morita, while thinking about this season’s theme. After three decades as a dancer and a writer, Sara Porter stands at the collision of the two in her multidisciplinary work Sara does a Solo. Porter turns her writing on herself in a fearless account of what we all face – an aging body and a reflective mind – creating a world where intimacy and pathos, hilarity and beauty co-exist in the physical stories she tells about life as an artist and a parent. Part memoir, part stand-up comedy, part dance performance, Sara does a Solo is unlike anything else. A bold and beautiful account of mid-life. More info on Sara at www.saraporter.ca

“Funny, irreverent, soulful…Sara Porter is magnificent. I’m awestruck!” Niegel Smith, director, The Flea Theatre, NYC

Event details:

Date: Friday, December 13, 2019

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Time: 8 p.m. to late

Location: Spazio Performativo, 10816 95 Street

Cost: $15 members, $20 non-members

“The uniqueness of each person’s body is really a kind of vessel or expression of who they are. I didn’t follow a conventional path or training into dance so my dancing speaks to my personal story.” – Sara Porter

ROGER LEVESQUE for Edmonton Journal – Original PublicationUpdated: December 5, 2019

As the title of a special show it’s simple and explanatory: Sara Does A Solo.

Toronto dancer-choreographer Sara Porter presents her acclaimed work at Mile Zero Dance heading into the holiday season, but the show itself is a little more complicated than the title.

It’s all based on her life experience, and there is something of a humorous narrative to it.

“I have three kids,” Porter explains, “and Sara Does A Solo is about my coming back to dancing in my forties after being at home with my kids. The show tells this story of me coming back to dance after getting drunk at a party with Mary Margaret O’Hara.”

As it turns out, the great Toronto singer O’Hara is one of Porter’s neighbours and friends. The singer was kind enough to give Porter permission to use a soundtrack of her songs for the show.

“It’s about mothering, and aging and identity, and it all pivots around whether I’m really a dancer or not, whether I’m too old. It looks back to my seminal story of becoming an artist.”

Part of that story considers Porter’s childhood, about how she took dance classes and hated them, only to follow other creative trajectories before she returned to dance.

Porter’s Nova Scotia upbringing fostered her avid interest in singing, reading and writing, theatre, poetry and athletics. Her father was a church minister, so participating in church choirs and reciting poetry was present early on, but the dance element didn’t take root until later.

She wound studying biological science at college but quickly decided she was destined for a more arts-oriented career. That’s when she started pursuing theatre and dance, and to this day Porter dubs her solo work “memoir and movement” because it almost always includes spoken word text and a theatrical aspect in costumes, character play and humour. Her experience as a contemporary dancer-choreographer or teacher dates back to the early 1990s.

“Dance is an element and the principle context in which I present my work, but this particular show has actually toured to performance art festivals, music, theatre and literary festivals, as well as dance festivals. It’s truly multidisciplinary.”

The first version of Sara Does A Solo had its origins in 2014, but the version Edmonton audiences will see is the full hour-long work that developed over several years touring the continent. Reviews of the show in centres like New York have acclaimed Porter for the brave, vulnerable and humorous places she goes to and the show’s beyond-category hybrid quality.

“Our bodies carry all our history with us, so there’s the body I danced with as a young person and the body I danced with when I’m working with Mary Margaret’s music, and the uniqueness of each person’s body is really a kind of vessel or expression of who they are. I didn’t follow a conventional path or training into dance so my dancing speaks to my personal story.”

Sara Does A Solo plays at Mile Zero Dance’s Spazio Performativo venue (10816 – 95 Street) at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 13-14 (warning: show includes nudity). Tickets are $15 for members, $20 for non-members, available from Eventbrite via links at milezerodance.com.

Ballet Edmonton’s holiday show

Last year’s seasonal show from Ballet Edmonton proved so popular that the company is now offering three nights of Be Merry this year, Dec. 12, 13 and 14.

Billed as a celebration of music, dance and song, it includes a Christmas playlet by Stewart Lemoine, along with music by Kris Harper, Jason Borys, and Jacquelyn and Hunter Cardinal, as well as additional songs from Sheri, Anna and Jason Somerville.

Finally of course there are the dancers of Ballet Edmonton, who were encouraged to come up with their own ‘seasonally inspired vignettes.’

Locally-sourced treats and refreshments will be available.

Tickets for the Be Merry show are $40 for adults, $25 for students or seniors, $20 for children under 12, available from the company’s site balletedmonton.ca.