Verve Mwendo Dance Company
Gig Seeker Pro

Verve Mwendo Dance Company


Band Comedy Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"2002 Entertainment Honour Roll"

VERVE MWENDO, dance company

Verve Mwendo, a new dance company that hit the floor in March, lives up to its high-energy name.

Mwendo is a Swahili word meaning flight, electric current, path and way of going. "If you watch us for a full hour the audience is a little in awe of the energy that comes out," says dancer Jenee Gowing. "We don't stop."

Gowing, of New Hamburg, Ont., came to Nova Scotia when her husband went to DalTech. Now teaching at Halifax Dance, she is a co-founder of Verve Mwendo with Halifax dancer and teacher Jacinte Armstrong, who studied at New World School of the Arts in Florida, and Truro dancer/choreographer Cory Bowles, a former member of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks in Calgary who back at home also plays bass in his band, The/Spur and acts in The Trailer Park Boys.

The three got together by accident last spring, had a sell-out, self-produced show at the Church in June and wowed the audience at an Open Studio Mainstage series in November.

The style is a mix of modern and jazz with some African and Afro-Cuban thrown in or not. "We've been intrigued by the style people put us down as," says Gowing.

"I definitely am jazz, Jacinte is more modern but we have such an appreciation for both. We like to create a style. Cory is an incredible choreographer and he has so many ideas in his head."

The trio is considering a school tour in the spring. "We have had requests to perform. That's exciting." - The Halifax Herald Limited, Thursday, December 26, 2002


by ANDREA NEMETZ Entertainment Reporter

Impressed gasps could be heard even before the members of Verve Mwendo stepped onto the Neptune Studio Theatre Stage for the premiere of Deleted Scenes on Thursday night.

Structured as a film with opening credit 9worth the price of admission by themselves) and a feature presentation, Deleted Scenes follows a group of hip, twenty some things through an evenings adventures.

Entering the theatre, each audience member received a DVD case.

The front cover featured playful photos of Verve Mwendo founders Jacinte Armstrong and Cory Bowles, guest dancer Christine Finley and musical and performing collaborators Sajeev and Dani Oore, (a pianist and saxophone player respectively).

The back cover was a clever play on the typical DVD blurbs with comments like "the best show of the chosen by over one critic" as well as a short description of the show and movie-like credits for performers and technical designers.

Inside was a list of scenes, 21 in total, with names like Jac Loses Her Balance, Christine Walks the Line, Sageev's Big Score and Monster.

The 80 minute performance was even more humorous, creative and entertaining than the program, drawing belly laughs rare at a dance show from a knowledgeable crowd made up of mainly dancers, choreographers and other artists.

A unique blend of dance, theatre, physical comedy, live classical and jazz music and futuristic electronic soundscapes, Deleted Scenes is a thoroughly delightful journey.

Sageev Oore sets the scene as a PBS-style commentator describing "the previously unreleased footage" and provides gorgeous accompaniment throughout. He also appears in a couple of scenes including the hilarious Choir of Nuts, in which he and his brother join the two in a hymn of sheer goofiness.

The dancers perform solos, duets, trios and quartets in every possible combination, often with Dani Oore as the comic relief.

Dani, without his sax for most of the show, has a star turn in Dani's lament, as a shy Popeye-style character sprouting muscles on his sinewy upper arms before gaining confidence and strutting like a king to his brother's majestic fanfare then flowing into a Russian Cossack dance.

Armstrong and Finley capture girlish high-spirits and shared confidences in the spritely Girl Talk.

And Bowles, who was the primary choreographer for the show and Armstrong combined in an exquisite, elegant duet to end the performance.

The dancing throughout the show, which drew on the choreographic talents of other Verve Mwendo members and Ruth-Ellen Kroll Jackson is superb - athletic, whimsical and joyous and the music by the Oores and Bowles is Charming, capturing the various moods of the different scenes.

Deleted Scenes, which received a standing ovation, is a can't miss hit.

- Halifax Herald

"Verve Mwendo's infectious groove"

By ANDREA NEMETZ / Entertainment Reporter DANCE REVIEW

Verve Mwendo's new show No. 3 is a satisfying three-course meal.

The first part - a joyous journey drawing inspiration from a trip to Brazil by company co-founders Cory Bowles and Jacinte Armstrong - is the appetizer, whetting your appetite for more from the Halifax contemporary dance company.

The second part - with a piece by company founder Cory Bowles constructed under the mentorship of dance guru Tedd Robinson, another by new Verve dancer Tatiana Margitic as well as the company's first work commissioned outside of Verve Mwendo, a piece by Halifax native Sara Coffin - is the entree, meatier, thought-provoking and fulfilling.

And at the end is dessert, with dancers Jenee Gowing, Armstrong, Rhonda Baker and Bowles taking to the stage dressed in skeleton outfits for a hilarious boneyard jubilee in Skeleton Krewe, a shining interlude of pure fun that leaves the audience grinning as the lights come on.

This is the third full-length show for the energetic company, which came together by accident in March 2002 blending Gowing's jazz background (the other company co-founder), Armstrong's modern roots and Bowles' African and Afro-Cuban influences.

Verve Mwendo has also produced two sold-out shows of orginal choreography at The Church in Halifax, Way of Going in 2002 and Polykinesis in 2003.

No. 3 is a bit of a departure with the addition of Baker, a member of the Maritime Dance Performance Group and winner of this year's Pat Richards Choreographic Award, and Margitic, a Halifax newcomer, who moved here from New York City where she danced with Sondra Loring, the Wendy Osserman Dance Company and Urban Wash Dance.

The first section of the show introduces capoeira, a martial arts/dance form and maculele, dance performed with sticks, to Verve Mwendo's lexicon. The pieces, First, Maculele and Birds, choreographed by Bowles and Capoeristas and Panda choreographed by Armstrong, evoke warm southern climes especially welcome in sun-deprived Halifax.

The movements are athletic, dynamic and fluid. Armstrong in particular seems at one with the music, every move she makes corresponding perfectly to a changing note or tone.

In First, danced by the company in all-white outfits evoking marital arts uniforms, you can almost imagine the dancers flying.

Maculele includes lovely partner work by Armstrong and Bowles, creating interesting shapes in all spatial planes.

Birds is a solo instrumental number with the charismatic Bowles holding court on an instrument that evokes haunting sounds reminiscent of the Australian digeridoo.

Capoeristas melds dance with sport as the female dancers spar in a demonstration of graceful skill. And Panda is almost mechanistic with the dancers' hypnotic movements spotlighting the power of the art.

After the warmth and brightness of the first section, the darkness and intensity of Three and Two (Bowles work with Robinson), which opens the second part is a bit of a shock to the system. But the chill of the opening - a jittery courtship between Bowles and Armstrong - gradually evaporates replaced by a mellow sense of satisfaction as the piece weaves Baker into the duo's interaction.

Gowing, with her theatrical gift, is the bit actor who almost steals the show from the stars in a saucy interlude, where she prances and preens as the prima donna who knows in her heart she can upstage the talent.

Yield, choreographed by Margitic, is a flowing confection showcasing her elegant arm movements.

And Coffin's That Includes You brought peals of laughter from the capacity audience on opening night with it's comedic duet by Armstrong and Bowles as a cosmically doomed pair wait for a bus.

Skeleton Krewe was a true crowdpleaser, an appropriate end to the delightful evening. A British announcer introduces each segment with exceedingly proper BBC intonation and stuffy turn of phrase while the dancers, white bones on black lycra suits highlighted by black light, rock out to a variety of blues music, their upper bodies rigid while their legs and hips catch the rhythm and go with it, glorying in the freedom of movement.

The dancers' joy in performing all the numbers, Skeleton Krewe, in particular, is infectious. They love what they do and the audience loves them back This is a company that connects with the public.

Let No. 3, running tonight to Sunday at 8 p.m. and Sunday 2 p.m. at DANSpace-on-Grafton, 1531 Grafton St., Halifax, spread some sunlight into your life. Tickets are $15, $12 students. - Halifax Herald

"Dance meets the street in electrifying display"

By Elissa Barnard / Arts Reporter DANCE REVIEW

Verve Mwendo electrified Friday night's Open Studio audience in Halifax with dance about the joy of being.
The Halifax jazz-meets-the-street trio of Jacinte Armstrong, Corey Bowles and Jenee Gowing got a standing ovation for its highly kinetic, gymnastic dance that doesn't take itself too seriously and yet is well-thought-out and well-rehearsed.

Verve Mwendo, on the program again tonight at 8 p.m. at the du Maurier Theatre, came after two serious, explorative pieces of contemporary dance by Sally Morgan and Gwen Noah. Both pieces are about states of being.

Noah's dance, against a wall of static sound with some DJ flecks of recognizable music and spoken words, is quite urban. Her look, after a period of elegant, ornate costumes, goes back to post-punk with standup hair and a raw, athletic appearance in shorts and a slim black top. The movement is pure Noah, a controlled sculptural musculature with an underbelly of intense, measured emotion.

One gets the sensation in this piece, called I have done nothing wrong, with music by Jonathan Parrish, of electrical circuits shorting out, of a human being struggling to find order.

It is always risky to combine video with dance, because the viewer's eyes are immediately drawn away from the dancer to the big screen.

In her new collaborative piece, stretching in the wake, Morgan hasn't completely decided how to use the video, but the video itself, which features Morgan walking and rolling on the beach, in the water and amid autumn beach grass, is quite lovely.

Valerie Salez, a graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, shoots a sensual communion of human body and land in a dance/video work that is about searching for being. It's a youthful, soulful quest for identity.

Morgan's movements at the beach, her foot dragging in sand, are compelling, as is her motion live on stage. She begins huddled in a ball, her legs flopping away from her without control, and like Noah, though her quality of movement is more organic, she seeks an order from disorder.

Verve Mwendo, less than a year old, is full of spark, amazing energy and incredible unity of movement. The dancers' arm and leg movements are rapid, gestural line drawings, phrases and sentences that are lots of fun and easily understood.

Jazz and social dance movement with squibs of contact, gymnastics, breakdance and other idioms, the five pieces include an aggressive boxing trio, a fiery duet, Gowing's catchy, calligraphic piece Bubbly Toes for herself and Armstrong, and Bowles's 9 O'Clock Jump, a piece about what happens to vain jazz dancers when the wheels fall off. These guys make you want to dance.

Tickets to Open Studio Mainstage, produced by Dance Nova Scotia, are $17 - $12 for students and seniors - at the door or the Neptune box office.

Copyright © The Halifax Herald Limited - The Halifax Herald Limited



A(nother) Cabin Fever (in process 2009)

The creation series (various spaces 2008)

The Viewer's Guide to Contemporary Dance (2008) comedy/vocal/dance

12 Bar Blues (2007)

Deleted Scenes (20005)



Verve Mwendo says

Since the formation in 2002, Verve Mwendo have earned a reputation for creating distinct and unpredictable dance/theatre performances.

The performances have evolved to include dancers, actors, media artists and musicians. Since 2005, Verve has worked regularly with musicians Dani and Sageev Oore, and in 2006 received mentorship from jazz musician Jerry Granelli and in 2007 received mentorship from world renowned vocalist Fides Krucker.

They have created an ensemble dynamic that is uniquely their own, with a strong focus on collaboration. As displayed in a sold out live music and dance performance for the atlantic Jazz festival, completely improvised, Verve Mwendo knows how to take it "out there" and bring dance to a different level.

Verve stays dedicated to the creation and performance of new work that combines classical modern and contemporary movement styles with elements of traditional dance forms, theatre, comedy, and live music. While doing this, Verve Mwendo constantly seeks to reinvent themselves and their work in Halifax. As well as performing on stage, the Company is moving into creation for site specific, new-media and installation work. They have performed in gardens, front lawns, pubs, and rock clubs, to name a few, and they continue to present their work in any space, any where, anytime.

Verve Mwendo was the subject of a half-hour Bravo! television episode in producer Charlie Cahill’s series, Dance Atlantic, which aired in Spring 2005. Jenn Grant’s 2007 video, “Dreamer”, seen on MuchMusic, features Cory Bowles and Jacinte Armstrong.

Key works to date include Way of Going (2002), Polykinesis (2003), Verve Mwendo No. 3 (2004), A Remedy for Cabin Fever (2005), Deleted Scenes (2005), 12 Bar Blues (2007), The Viewer's Guide to Contemporary Dance (2008)

Verve Mwendo also currently specializes in a process of creation in as little as five days and presents the project as as an improved performance in theatre, music and dance.

The current members are Jacinte Armstrong, Cory Bowles, Susanne Chui, Sageev Oore, and Elise Vanderborght Alexis Milligan, and guest drummer/percusionist, Doug Cameron

Verve Mwendo makes its Home at the Halifax Dance studios, Maritime Centre, 1505 Barrington Street, Halifax Nova Scotia.

check this out