REVIEW: XO Choreographer’s Showcase

A buzzing excitement filled the crowd before the inaugural XO Choreographer’s Showcase at the Shenkman Arts Centre on Friday, Feb. 13 began. The start time of the show had been delayed for almost two hours due to technical issues, and the audience members were eager to see the performances which the featured choreographers had been working on in the weeks leading up to the program.


The show was the brainchild of Start Up Dance founder and Algonquin College marketing student Brian Tong, and The INDI founder and designer Elsa Edaba as a platform for local choreographers and dancers to perform their own works which they might not be able to do elsewhere. Performed on Valentine’s Day eve, the showcase’s theme was “love, lust and lies”, with many of the pieces addressing one’s sexuality or unbridled love.

The showcase was inspired by similar choreographer’s balls which take place regularly in Montreal and Toronto.

“My goal was to take local choreographers who inspired me, and have them perform here and exhibit their love of dance,” said Tong. “My goal is to bring the Ottawa dance scene back into the picture.”

The choreographers did not fail to impress with passionate performances evoking lust, attitude, swagger, sensuality and tenderness.

Noteworthy was a charming hip-hop duet by Chev Cheechoo and his real-life girlfriend Karina Cortez entitled Chev and Karina Collective Boogie. Utilizing isolation moves as well as more upbeat tempos and movements, the chemistry of the two was palpable as they grooved along in-sync to modern R&B tunes.


France Alarie’s hip-hop work entitled Estila was a fierce, sassy piece danced by Vanessa Carson and Jessica Rowe along with herself. The three women employed wacking and house elements with exceptional hip-hop choreography and the use of props to evoke a raw, feminine perspective through the powerful movements.

On the contemporary side, Sonia Awad displayed her range with two pieces featured in the show. Her group dance, Fitzpleasure, was powerful and beautiful, while her solo, Hurt Me Now, was a more measured and subtle emotive piece at the beginning. Midway through, it transformed, delivering raw movements with strength and controlled quickness.

Ottawa’s local dance talent was on display in full effect, and with more promotion, the XO Choreographer’s Showcase may grow to rival similar-type showcases in larger cities in the future.