A Cas Public Production
Diary/Journal Intime

Dates and Venue 29 September - 3 October 2009 | The Cultch, Vancouver

Choreographer Hélène Blackburn Pianist Matthieu Fortin

Reviewer Roger Wayne Eberle

What does dance have to do with love? If one could hold a candle to the other, a little light might be shed on the answer to that question. Lighting and aligning candles in a steadily filling darkened theatre, the collaborative dance troupe known as Cas Public cut themselves adrift from the mundane world in anticipation of another evening of intensely physical romance as they limber up for their performance of Diary/Journal Intime.

Hundreds of lit candles form a framing device for this performance, but the performance goes far beyond its frame. Hélène Blackburn and her dancers manage to suffuse sensuality with the give and take of passion in a performance that sweeps the audience back off its feet while allowing it to reconnect through a smouldering physicality with all the charm of young love slightly off balance due to the sense of just having been smitten. Puckered up kisses abound, both on the big screen and between dancers as they exchange graceful motions in a flurry of ardent asides and full frontal fluidity punctuated with whispers of wanton abandon.

Words cannot do justice to the emotions these dancers so artfully convey. Ms. Blackburn perhaps says it best, epitomizing her production as a "return to the time when you were young and captured your first love." This multi-lingual, multi-media performance includes luscious lifts, delicate imagery, intricate sign language, bodacious body language and much more, all displayed with deft dexterity. Creative use of a handheld camera shows images of dancers projected onto the large screen. Such multimedia work done by dancers on the fly plays fast and loose with focal points and angled appeal riveting the audience's attention even as it plays coyly with the theme of multitasking as a function of young love.

Then there are the human moments when grace is juxtaposed with a weary angularity, limbs akimbo, languor investing motion with momentary bursts of lethargy. Such real emotions being conveyed in an emotionally charged context are a welcome and refreshing change of pace from the Dancing-with-the-Stars-artificiality that comes pre-packaged and mass-marketed today.

Pacing never loses sight of punch in Diary, regardless of whether Matthieu Fortin's superb piano accompaniment is appassionato or fortissimo or merely mellifluous. Each fortunate spectator who takes in this performance cannot help but feel the vicarious passion of love and embrace as sharply as the synchronized slapping of these dancer's hands and thighs along with their strong coordinated movements convey a vivid sense of love and longing, of stolen glances inspired to sustain love in our relationships from that first kindled spark to the last blown breath that extinguishes the final candle flame.

Speaking of her role as the only dancer remaining at centre stage at the end of the show, Kyra Jean Green says her final movement "brings closure to everything" in a gesture symbolic of love's ultimate resting hour. In one of the earlier defining moments of a definitive performance, Ms. Green says "love is surprise" and then surprises everybody. You'll have to see it for yourself to see how this is accomplished, but it is certainly no surprise that this stellar production has had such wide success in its three year tour. Do your love and yourself a favour, take a page out of Diary/Journal Intime tonight. You're sure to savour it.

© 2009 Roger Wayne Eberle