Dance: April 2001


Venue: Vancouver East Cultural Centre

Date: 25 April 2001

Reviewer: Cheryl Rossi

The first thing we saw when we entered the theatre was a terrarium at the front center of the floor, containing two women, a miniature tree, and camping paraphernalia. The women chatted, listened to a discman and flipped through The Worst Case Scenario Survivor's Handbook while we took our seats. A woman entered, pushed their wheeled case around, and then off the stage.

Another terrarium containing four miniature trees was rolled to the front of stage left. The three propane stoves on top of it were lit, not without a comical struggle, and the encased trees and the burning elements remained in that position until the end of the performance when the flames were extinguished.

There were five dancers: Susan Elliot, Caroline Farquhar, Cornelius Fischer-Credo, Day Helesic and Ron Stewart, who were constantly flitting on and off stage, executing repeated phrases of movement, usually using their upper bodies while their lower bodies remained rooted, until they ran off again.

At various points, a dancer would playfully instruct one or more others to enact movements such as the quirky "greedy penguin" and "washing machine into cutting flowers." The flower cutting action was unexpectedly quick and violent, with comic effect.

Also intermittent throughout the performance was Fischer-Credo's unhurried shifting of rocks, from the back of the stage to a black tray at the front, to build a wall.

It was a sparse production. The dancers were dressed in neutral coloured leggings and tanks and the minimalist set was evocative of the outdoors. Sometimes it was silent and other times John Korsrud's suggestive compositions enhanced the activity. The video was mostly nature shots interposed with illustrated flowers.

In addition to the shallow boxes or trays at the front of the stage and the terrariums, boxes of light were projected onto the floor for the dancers to move within. A few dancers would be doing identical, usually small decisive movements, then another would take the stage and model a different action. The others would pause to observe what this new entity was going to offer. At times, the way in which the light struck the dancers' bodies, their poses and their movements made them appear mechanical.

The most gripping repeated spectacle was when muscle-y Stewart stood alone on the stage in a spotlight, and holding his lower body still, he rotated his upper body, flailing his arms in perfect synchrony with the potent bass of the electronic music. It was mesmerizing each time.

Although there were nuances of themes such as containment of the natural world for inspection and the observation of small activities of others to see what they could offer, I left feeling confused. The performance as a whole was intriguing, yet somewhat puzzling. In a recent interview the choreographer, Lola MacLaughlin, said: " . . . you don't want to influence how the audience will interpret it. See it and I'll talk to you after." Now that would be a helpful discussion.

2001, Cheryl Rossi

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