Ariole may have been the first ever to bring Dance to the International Fringe Festival circuit in 1989.
Please note that fresh-from-the-press reviews from these 33rd Edmonton International Fringe Festival (2014) performances will not likely be seen here!
Ariole goes into ‘quarantine’ each day prior to performance – and during the entire run she keeps herself focused in a ‘bubble’!
This is the essence of how she ‘tours’ . . .
Click here to read an After the House Lights ‘Preview’ of the 2014 production of ‘there’s a camel on my back’ . . .
Click here to hear a Podcast on Dirty Feet via Montréal – thanks to Allison Burns and Linnea Gwiazda! . . . Feel free to listen to the entire Podcast – or click forward to 1:06 to hear this interview 🙂
“In there’s a camel on my back, dancer and choreographer Ariole Alei presents six solo pieces in a nearly bare room. In fact, the wall between audience and performer is broken down to the point that the show begins with Alei completing her warmup onstage, and finishes with a question and answer session. The dancing itself comes from a place of artistic and esthetic rigour. Alei’s commitment to the work and ability to hold the audience’s attention while significantly altering the esthetics of each individual solo is remarkable. What brings the show down, however, are the spoken-word interludes. Audience members with a low tolerance for the spiritual dimensions that can accompany the artistic process would do well to simply ignore them: dramaturgically they fail to join together these pieces—not that there seemed to be a need to join them, either—and their message is over the top. Nonetheless, they don’t take away from the superb movement that is the real focus of the performance.” —Bryan Birtles, Vue Weekly
* * * * * “This is such a brilliant display of powerful emotion that it’s difficult to believe this is [Ariole Alei’s*] first live performance in 14 years. Exuding stunning movement, the series of five solo dance pieces takes art to the next level and the imagination into new territories: a visual splendour illustrating stories of sheer torment, heart-wrenching sentiment, liberating freedom and pure child-like innocence. Without a single word uttered, each motion is flawlessly sculpted in the air, provoking an array of emotional stories. This is not only beautifully choreographed contemporary dancing, but in essence true archaic theatre with animated Shakespearean-like facial expressions. The stage setting is bare, and the costumes are kept simple as no visual enhancement is needed. The engaging performance merited a standing ovation on its opening night and is easily one of the most alluring pieces of the year.” – Alyssa Coulson, Monday Magazine
“Brilliant … [Alei] is a master.” – Gail Johnson, The Georgia Straight
“Any dancer in her 40s who creates a solo show deserves a bouquet of praise for putting herself out there. Vancouver’s [Ariole Alei], a former member of Anna Wyman Dance Theatre and Judith Marcuse Dance Company, took a 14-year “temporary retirement” before emerging with this contemporary collection last year. She clearly has an artist’s soul and burns with the need to communicate, despite working in a discipline that typically pushes its older artists off the stage. When [Alei] plays to her strengths, which are maturity and sensitivity, she deserves attention.” – Allison Mayes
“Five solo dance pieces by a gifted veteran of professional ballet are a treat for Fringe goers looking for something other than dreary monologues, self-pretentious stand-up and way-too-zany sketch comedy. To the uninitiated [Alei’s] performance may seem like tai chi – but if so, it’s tai chi done in a weightless environment.”
“[Ariole Alei] is extraordinarily graceful in this one-woman performance. A graduate of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet Professional Division and former dancer with Anna Wyman Dance Theatre, she captures the audience’s imagination while her movements tell stories. It’s hard to avoid smiling while she dances, you can see the absolute joy on her face, she truly loves what she’s doing and it shows … I was most impressed by the final number, which is so vibrant and energetic. It’s amazing that after an hour of dancing that she can still have the energy to end with such a lively number … Be sure to stick around for the talkback section at the end of the performance. She takes a few minutes to answer questions from the audience and discuss her performance.” – Rayne Anderson
“Guest performer [Ariole Alei] took on a challenging piece in The Passage, portraying a maiden on the eve of her wedding. [Alei] is lithe, willowy and a joy to watch. In 1988, at age 27, she was struck from her bicycle fracturing her knee and hand. Nine months later, she made a complete comeback and is still delivering solo performances such as her own new show, Ascend, that opens April 29 on Granville Island.” – Jan DeGrass
“Superbly beautiful! Lots of fluid, liquid, golden motion. [Ariole] has great sensitivity to her various subjects. Her costumes are creative and softly sensuous. And I feel honoured to have been in her first audience in fourteen years! Well done, [Ariole]!” – Janet, The Craig
“[Ariole Alei] dances like she really means it.
“No going through the motions for this girl. After successfully recovering from a career-threatening accident that happened last summer, [Alei] has really come to appreciate the opportunity to perform … ‘I was cycling to a rehearsal when a car driver opened his door in front of me. I broke bones in my knee, my hand, and needed stitches in my jaw,’ [Alei] recalls.
“‘As a result of the accident I realized that a dancer’s career is not only short but unpredictable. All the time I was recovering I was going on a gut feeling that told me yes, you will dance again and stronger than ever before. I’ve learned to respect whatever messages I get from inside.’
“[Alei] is bringing her one-woman modern dance show, There’s a Camel on My Back, to the Winnipeg Fringe Festival to kick off a summer performance tour. She says the Fringe organizers had no problem with a dance piece in a theatre festival, and she’s content with her setting because she feels she has something to say to her audiences.
“‘It’s my job to take people on my back and take them somewhere’, she says of her show.
“‘My performance should be a catalyst that provokes or evokes emotion. Performers are there to lubricate, to help shake things out of people or maybe magnify something inside them.’
“A native of Vancouver and Selkirk, [Alei] began dancing at the age of seven. She went through the Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s general and professional school programs before becoming attracted to modern dance. Since making the switch, she performed with both the Anna Wyman and Judith Marcuse Dance Companies before striking out on her own.
“‘In order to be fulfilled I realized I had to do more of my own work and have the freedom to do that work,’ [Alei] says.
“There’s a Caml on My Back is a work composed of five dances, each one having a dramatic or emotional message. [Alei] has choreographed all but one of them herself.
“‘What I’m doing I hope is not self-indulgent’, she says.
“‘Things come to me in dreams. One morning I woke up with a title in my head – There’s a Camel on My Back. I thought, hey, that would be good for the Fringe: It would make people wonder what it’s about and then they can come and find out.
“‘Maybe it’s about the burdens I’ve been carrying all my life, like something on my back. Or maybe it’s about the resources I have that I can carry with me wherever I go.'” – Karen Crossley, The Winnipeg Sun
“Another up-and-comer is dancer [Ariole Alei].
“Formerly a member of two of the city’s leading modernist troupes, the Anna Wyman Dance Theatre and the Judith Marcuse Dance Company, [Alei] has struck out on her own.
“Her appearances at the Fringe Festival in her new one-woman show, There’s a Camel on My Back’, will be her first Vancouver performances since she broke her knee in a cycling accident on her way to a rehearsal 16 months ago.
“The accident showed her, she says, how unpredictable life can be. ‘I’m thrilled to be making this return to the stage,’ she says, ‘with determination and conviction and a desire, as always, to give.'” – Max Wyman, The Vancouver Province
“In the summer of 1988, [Ariole Alei’s] dancing career came to an abrupt halt when she was knocked off her bicycle, fracturing a hand and knee in the process.
“Her long road to recovery is one of the topics [Alei] addresses in her one-woman Fringe show, There’s a Camel on My Back. Happily, her dancing bears no evidence of the injuries. In Back from the Edge for instance, her interconnected pivots are light, flowing, as joyful as [Alei’s] own return to the stage must be.” – The Vancouver Sun
“‘I knew in my gut I’d dance again’ after bicycle crash …
“Twelve months and 23 days ago, [Ariole Alei’s] doctors thought she would never dance again.
“Yet today [Alei] will perform five solo dances at Open Space Gallery as part of the fringe festival. And the 27-year-old Vancouver dancer will repeat the feat all week.
“‘I have this poster on my wall – it really has a pertinent message,’ said [Alei], a former member of Anna Wyman Dance Theatre and Judith Marcuse Dance Company.
“‘ It says: ‘It’s amazing what one can accomplish when one doesn’t know what one can’t do.”
“On Aug. 31, 1988, [Alei] was cycling on Broadway Street to a rehearsal at the Judith Marcuse Vancouver studios when a parked driver abruptly opened his care door. It caught [Alei’s] handbars and the petite dancer was hurled to the pavement.
“‘I broke this knee and I broke this hand,’ she said, pointing. Her kneecap, she says, divided like a split eggshell.
“For four days, [Alei] was in shock. The injury was serious. And knee injuries often sound the death knell of a dancer’s career.
“Doctors told her later that they doubted she would dance professionally again. Yet today her hand has completely healed while the knee is ‘close to perfect’.
“There were times when she doubted she would ever heal. Nevertheless, [Alei] made her semi-miraculous recovery – by just deciding she would recover.
“She also has a dream.
“‘I woke up one morning in January knowing I was going to do a one-woman show for a fringe festival.’
“[Alei] forced herself to endure hours of painful physical therapy – pushing through walls of pain in order to regain her strength.
“‘I knew down here in my gut that I would dance again,’ she said.
“Her solo dance performance, There’s a Camel on My Back, had its premiere performance at Winnipeg’s fringe theatre festival in July. [Alei] was ‘petrified’ about returning to the stage.
“The 60-minute show went well, however. And [Alei] successfully reprised it for the recent Vancouver fringe festival.
“Of the five dances choreographed and danced by [Alei], only the last is directly about her accident.
“Titled Back from the Edge, and set to music by Andreas Vollenweider, it’s a ‘celebration of life’ with a universal message.
“The other pieces are: Dragon Fly, about the dragonfly shedding its skin; Lost, which explores the universal pain of loss; The Times After, about the sexual abuse of children; and a comic dance with the elaborate title face (Romp?) (or Act IV, Scene V, The Final Breath).
“[Alei}, who now plans to pursue a mainly solo career, says her accident taught her that dance is at best a precarious art.
“‘It’s so unpredictable.’
“‘I hope (my show) will reduce the fear that a lot of dancers have about injuring themselves,’ she said.
“‘Recovering has so much to do with your will-power, your determination and your desire.'” – Adrian Chamberlain, Victoria Times-Colonist
“So here, with no guarantees and no money refunded, is Honest Max’s look at some of the likely runners, calculated on the basis of training, previous form, publicity releases and, most of all, hunches.
“There’s a Camel on My Back. Debut one-woman show by Vancouver dancer [Ariole Alei].” – Max Wyman, The Vancouver Province
“And the Wyman company showed three works from its repertoire – the most recent of which, City Piece, a floating solo for the gifted [Ariole Alei]and six white umbrellas, is the most convincing artistic reason for its ongoing existence this company has shown us in years.” – Max Wyman, The Vancouver Province, review of Anna Wyman Dance Theatre Gala
“A new solo piece from Anna Wyman should be its own draw: it’s an excerpt from City Piece, and this portion is a solo danced by the special arms and legs of [Ariole Alei], a senior company member.” – Andre Paradis, The Georgia Straight
* Ariole K. Alei was born, trained, and initially toured as Sharon Elise Wehner. Her name changed – quite by her own surprise! – in 2005 when she became a published author.