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EDAM: Experimental Dance and Music

Polar

Dates 3 - 6 May 2006, 8pm Venue EDAM Studio Theatre, 303 East 8th Avenue, Vancouver Reviewer Ed Farolan

 

I don't know where to begin this review. It was a confusing evening of experimental dance and music. But perhaps that's how it should be.

In fact, in the first part of the program entitled "the thing is violent," there were clothes scattered all over, sound effects of strong winds and rain, annoying noises from machines. Actually, the name of this group of two dancers (Delia Brett and Daelik) is MACHINENOISY.

In the intermission, I asked Daelik what it was all about. He said the dance dealt with natural disasters and how we are vulnerable to these disasters. They strip away not only our material possessions but also our beings; we become vulnerable to things around us -- nature, people and so forth. The clothes image where the actors strip and then put their clothes back on symbolize this vulnerability. One of the spectators asked: "Why didn't you write all of this down in the program" to which he replied, "We purposely did that to make people think and interpret in their own way."

After the intermission, Montreal dancer/choreographer Lin Snelling and Vancouver cellist Peggy Lee performed "Quell." This word means to "suppress" or "to crush." And so what Snelling did was to try to suppress her emotions through dance. Now this is my opinion because as she danced she also talked. Imagine, dancing and talking and this was done too by the first group. Dance purists would of course say this is a big no-no: dance should be dance and theatre should be theatre. But nowadays, with all these experimental groups around, they justify this mingling of dance with other theatre genres as "integrated art."

What it boils down too, though, is the spectator's personal opinion. And in shows like this, you either like it or you don't. Or there is the middle ground where you like some aspects of it. In my case, I liked some aspects: I liked the dancing part of "the thing is violent." Both dancers were good, well-synchronized. I liked the theme of natural disasters and the symbolism of vulnerability. What I didn't like is why there was a crooked television set there with a videotape of Delia Brett dancing, and I also didn't like the long pauses, particularly when Daelik started picking up the scattered clothes and putting them in order. I think this came up to around ten minutes. I also found this 40-minute program too long. It could have been shortened to at most twenty minutes.

In "Quell," I don't think there was any dance at all. Snelling was just shaking all over while cellist Lee was playing atonal music similar to the Beijing Opera which I found annoying. I didn't bother to stay after the show to discuss the meaning of art with these dancers because in my long years of experience with the arts, art, whether it be dance, theatre, opera, painting, etc., basically, it's either conventional or non-conventional, traditional or experimental, and obviously, from the name of this group, it is a free-for-all experimental group where you can do anything you want in music and in dance, so long as it isn't mainstream.

So, in many respects, the group, under the helm of Artistic Director Peter Bingham, is faithful to its mandate of providing a "stable and fertile environment for the development of contemporary dance." And the group has been in existence since 1982 and gets funding from the BC Arts Council, Canada Council, the City of Vancouver, and other agencies.

2006 Ed Farolan