Dance at Hycroft Mansion
Choreography: Jennifer Mascall Featured
Performers: Ziyian Kwan, Dean Makarenko, Jen Murray, Ron Stewart
The Hycroft Mansion Dates: 21-30 March 2003
Reviewer: Cheryl Rossi
at Hycroft provided a pleasurable combination of extraordinary surroundings,
entrancing music and intriguing movement.
crowded into the hall of the Edwardian mansion to witness two of the
house’s young servants, apprentice dancers Sophie Allison and
Keely Remillard, playing on the stairs, sliding down on their fronts,
head first, falling up and jumping over one another to the piano sounds
carrying from the drawing room. However, once the ladies of the house,
Ziyian Kwan and Jen Murray, were spotted through the watery windows,
Then, in the basement
ballroom, DJ Jacob Cino’s music dictated the dance. Initially,
a waltz prompted their movement with it’s momentarily slowed tempo
making the dancers appear as though they were living in a jewelry box,
as they too wound down, only to enliven with the music. At one point,
when the music crashed and blustered, attention shifted to what might
be threatening outside the window. Drum’n’bass, Inuit throat
singing and classical waltzes fuelled the dancers and their shadows.
During the second
half of the program, the dancers moved between three rooms with the
audience members experiencing a performance in each.
In the dining room,
Remillard and Katy Harris McLeod, another apprentice dancer, fought
to look at a letter from the stable boy while setting the table. The
playfully tense atmosphere became charged when Murray entered the room.
With her inverted fists held clenched jaw height, elbows out, and her
low lunges, she seemed deeply disturbed. It did not get any more comfortable
when Dean Makarenko entered the room. Ron Stewart joined them briefly
an argument seemingly broke out, with the three slapping the back of
their hands for emphasis.
In the drawing room,
Paul Plimley’s atmospheric piano playing set the scene. Stewart’s
plight appeared incomprehensible as his large body shifted balance and
rotated in lunges, at times with rigid inverted hands. Comic relief
was provided when Remillard, Harris McLeod and Allison entered chanting
household tasks, grabbing pillows from behind patrons and plumping them,
and cleaning windows where viewers were peering in.
Finally, in the
hall, Remillard spoke of the existence of ghosts in the house and an
introspective Kwan danced. Though she also appeared somewhat troubled,
her movements were less peculiar and more fluid than those of Stewart
in the drawing room and Murray in the dining room. The intermingling
of Remillard’s story, Cino’s music and the exquisite Kwan
created a dream-like reverie.
Sometimes the combination
of elements in Housewerk provoked and other times the dancing was curious,
but the magnificent setting and excellent music made it an enjoyable
2003, Cheryl Rossi