THE BOULEVARDIER: Centre stage at [FAT]

Story by Marq Frerichs, our Boulevardier columnist, who is also a professional dancer. Last week at [FAT], Toronto Alternative Arts & Fashion Week, Marq performed 3 Solos 1 Duet, a piece he choreographed on the theme of longing. Dancer Laura Ross and opera singer Sarah Hicks provided elegant support. Photography by Natalie Castellino.

Breezing through the stage doors last Tuesday to look at the space and talk tech with stage management, I fell right back into the rituals. I surveyed the lighting grid and checked the sight-lines. I jumped up and down on the stage to feel the ballon. I was wearing combat boots and the crashing noise echoed through the empty space. Imagine what it would sound like if I fell. Doesn’t matter how much I rehearse, I always fear that I’ll fall.

Wednesday morning and the first crisis of the day: What in God’s name will I wear? I tore through everything I own and nothing, nothing was right. Should it be casual or bespoke, all black angst artsy or fashion forward kooky? What if Fashion Television wants that interview? Go with a jaunty scarf. Come afternoon, my nerves are on edge.

By 2:30, having finished off a pot of coffee at home, and an espresso or two on the way to ballet class, I attempt to calm my nerves. Zip along Queen to Magpie Designs to pick up the wardrobe, promising to return one of the pieces that night so it can be modified for their show the next evening. I arrive at the site with the cast, dancer Laura Ross and opera singer Sarah Hicks. I ask, When do we go on stage? (I asked this or heard this asked a lot.)

An hour later, costumed and in the wings, Sarah hits her first note, then dress rehearsal is over.

So begins the waiting. Everywhere I turn people are bustling around, and there is the constant echo of giggling models. Now here’s the difference between [FAT] and LG Fashion Week: Every performer, designer and model really wants to be here. It’s volunteer-based, not a wink, wink, we’re in the know, aren’t we oh so, air-kissing club. It’s about the joy of fashion, being part of the creative moment. There isn’t a scowl to be seen in the whole building. And the men and women are all sizes and shapes. Did I mention the difference between fashion weeks?

7 p.m. And…please hold. Twenty minutes later, the house lights have gone to black and I’ve found myself on the stage. Thirteen minutes later it’s over. And the only thing I remember was wondering who those four guys in the get-ups and shades were. I almost stopped dancing. Don’t stare, focus.

What was the work about? Well, the evening is called Longing, so longing I guess. What was it really about? You tell me. Did you feel something; will you remember it tomorrow? If yes, then that’s really cool. Art is fleeting but creating is the game. There’s the wink, wink moment at [FAT].

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