Reviews

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Evi-Dance is now providing space for reviews of dance performances; the hope is that there will be ongoing insightful reviewing of dance and physical theatre shows. Watch this space!

 

 

Fantasylover
Choreography: Alyssa Martin
Performers/Collaborators: Sydney Herauf, Mary-Dora Bloch-Hansen, Sam Grist, Natasha Poon Woo
SummerWorks Festival 2018
Theatre Centre Franco Boni Theatre
August 9-19 2018

Reviewed by Ted Fox


Fantasylover consists of four stories that are not shown one after the other, but intergrated into the show. Result is we are experiencing this as a surreal dream. Seeing it is like flipping channels and going in and out of each story.
     Tessa Virtue (Drew Berry) longs to be independent of Scott Moir (Samantha Grist). Ironically, in doing this she wants to use her body to sell the Nivea soap brand. She turns her white socks into the illusion of skates as she slides across the floor or moves in unison with her partner.
     An Australian woman (Grist again) becomes more and more addled, sending email messages to a hopefully male date when she becomes lost in the wilderness.
     As Annie Lennox, May-Dona Bloch Hansen fights off female demons. A king (Natasha Poon Woo) with a rather large penis (luridly mimed) falls in love with a tree (Samantha Grist).
     The dancers are grotesque distorted caricatured satires of women as seen under the male gaze. As sex objects, they are dressed in tight dayglo lemon tank suits that accentuate their buttocks. They may appear as demons to those who perhaps feel threatened by ballsy women.
     These dancers are adept at constantly moving in a twisted grotesque way with their faces constantly shifting in a palette of unleashed emotions, including repressed anger and frustration.
     It is often very very funny. This makes the show more unsettling in that it suggests the question of why am I laughing at such a serious theme.
     The sound track includes the songs of Lorde, The Monkees and Jean-Baptiste Lilly, sung by all the dancers. Sound is deliberately distorted at times, reflecting the feelings of those singing. Overall the text is collaged from a variety of sources and original text, mainly from dramaturge David Bernstein and musician Sydney Herauf.
     Sydney Herauf, a Calgary-born musican, wrote all the text spoken in songs or poems. Her voice is nuanced both in her singing and vocalization. Not at all like the others. Her presence is calm, focused and assured, a counterpoint to the fantasy versions of the women around her.
     I have a mixed reaction to this work. The non-stop high level intensity of the movement combined with the loud bursts of the soundscape and vocalizations blur or drown out the text at times, though not as much when Herauf speaks.
     The introduction in the program by choreographer Alyssa Martin says it all: "We set out to create a kind of utopia but the problem with utopias is that they're always in the eye of the beholder."

 

Thousand Beginnings

Creator/Director: Margaret Muriel Legere

Performers/Creators: Jewels Krauss, Gulce Oral

 

Fringe Toronto 2018

St. Vladimir Institute

July 5-15 2018

Reviewed by Ted Fox

 

This is the first production from Under the Umbrella and is a very impressive debut. Thousand Beginnings is surrealistic physical theatre that is both emotional and humorous.

Begins with Jewels Krauss and Gulce Oral coming out, each holding a roll of paper towels. Playfully they hurl them into the air until the stage is covered. They shred them and roll around in them, emitting laughter as they do so.

Result is a set that looks like a wasteland. Half-buried, the women appear like survivors. In this case they are the victims of inheriting their parents' and grandparents' modes of behavour. They question how they can break out of them. How they can become aware of who they really are and lead fulfilled lives.

The words they speak are at times poetic. They question how exhaling impacts the clouds, how many breaths are in the air, whether the salt in their tears is the same as in the oceans.

They recite the sayings of their childhood, like stepping on a crack and breaking your mother's back.

Their bodies speak volumes in their movement. As do the cadences and the pauses in their vocalizations. Shades of emotion move across their faces.

The lighting is very effective in the way it reflects the wasteland of their lives. The paper towels, when lifted over their bodies, change their appearance into that of furry tentacled creatures.

Ends with one sitting relaxed in pensive thought. The other proceeds to pick up the towels, becoming more and more weighted down as she does so.

Beautifully acted and performed by the creator/performers. Movement skillfully created/directed by Margaret Legere.

 

Nullius in Verba
Toronto Fringe Festival
July 4-July 14
Al Green Theatre

Reviewed by Ted Fox

Nullius in Verba is Latin for "on no one's word." In the program notes, Artistic Directors Robyn Noftall and William Hamilton ask their audiences to interpret their pieces however they want. And "find the power to trust your instinct and understanding."

It's a challenging, thought-provoking experience

Leaving Room
Choreography; Mateo Galindo Torres
Interpreters and Collaborators: Robyn Noftall and William Hamilton

A couple dressing after a sleepover (a voiceover states). Both together but isolated in their own spaces. She moves with wide, elongated reaching-out gestures. He has a much more limited body language. More like exploring and appraising his body.

As they begin to interact with each other there is an atmosphere of lassitude and coldness. Movements are more like carefully mechanized precise exercises in maintaining an image of themselves that plays an important role in who they want to be seen as.

At one point they take on an artificial fashion spread look--he bent over, with her astride him, in a casual sexual pose.

Toward the end, both burst out into a bout of wild elongated movements, swaying backwards, circling, both owning the space. Only to go back into stillness, standing facing each other. In fact, periods of stillness throughout this piece are wonderfully effective.

The soundtrack begins with the sound of flipping TV channels complete with static and unclear snippets of sound. This effectively suggests their bodies flipping in and out of their real selves.


That What We Do Not Know
Choreographer: Mateo Galindo Torres
Interpreters and Collaborators: Robyn Noftall and Raine Kearns

Torres is a Colombian-born multidisciplinary dance artist. Here he addresses the issue of those from other cultures adapting to their new home.

Two figures come on stage, faces and heads covered by bandages. No identity.

They break into a visceral, percussive tribal dance. Calls to mind indigenous dances and rituals. Highly percussive soundtrack, both from their feet and the music selection of Bruxo by Nicola Cruz.

 

What would you do?
Choreography: Robyn Noftall and William Hamilton
Interpreters and Collaborators: Raine Kearns, William Hamilton and Cheryl Chan

Two women and one man staring transfixed at a bowl sitting on a small table. One woman tries to to drink from it, only to fall to the floor. The other succeeds and drinks what turns out to be a magic potion. Empowered by it, she turns into a dominant, controlling superwoman figure. Her gestures become spells which she uses to manipulate the others.

It is clear from the beginning that we are in another dimension outside space and time. A score featuring howling wind suspends us in this fantasy zone. The texture, of shades of darkness, heightens this. Has a magical dreamlike feel to it.

 

 

Fringe Toronto 2018
July 6-14 2018
Al Green Theatre


Reviewed by Ted Fox


This Half Second Echo presentation of In Threes features the choreographic works of Tracey Norman, Miles Gosse and Alison Daley. All these pieces are wonderfully danced and highly entertaining.

(an) other
Choreographer: Tracey Norman
Performers: Justine Comfort, Denise Solleza

Begins with the two performers seated in chairs, back to back. They are probably in a bar as the soundtrack suggests. Each leaps up now and then, their semaphoric gesturing indicating they are both expecting friends to arrive. "I'm here," one shouts expectantly.

She shifts her chair back which collides with the other. Spontaneously each reacts by reaching back with their arms one over and under the other's. An accidental connection is made.

Frantic movement follows. Towards and around each other. Circling. Assessing. Clasping each other's heads tightly. Butting heads like animals in defence of territory. Pulling each other towards each other then pushing away. Rolling on the floor.

A piano note motif gradually comes up leading to closer and closer contact as each examines the other's hands and face. A connection made. Each takes their chairs which are empty nearby. They sit down. Facing each other.

There is a great deal of warmth and emotion projected in their tentative reaching out and gradual developing a closeness togeher.

 

Feeling of Knowing 
Choreographer: Miles Gosse
Performers: Justine Comfort, Denise Solleza, Oriah Wiersma

There chairs now on stage. A lone dancer circles closely observing these chairs as she assembles and reassembles them in various scuptural variations. Then carefully balances on them, moving tentatively from one to the other.

Second and third dancers come up and participate as well. Their bodies move in different variations as they circle and move about gradually all coming together in a process of creation.

A subtle connection made. And to the satisfaction of all, have created a work of art. Two leave. However, alone again the one we saw in the beginning begins once again to dismantle and reassemble the chairs.


You Threw Me Off
Choreographer: Alison Daley (in collaboration with the performers)
Performers: Justine Comfort, Miles Gosse, Denise Solleza

Those three chairs again. Three dancers invite us to join in playing games, encouraging us to cheer them on. During this we note that here they are all connected to this task. A friendly repartee between them and us.

And the house lights are up through all three pieces so we are in an abstract sort of way them and they are us.

They playfullly compete with each other. One game is each selecting one card with a word on it-- tonight includes hands, squat and hips which they then employ as a sort of competitive upmanwomanship. A buzzer rings. End of round. A winner declared. We clap and cheer. As we of course sit in chairs. But oddly are connected with them

Works so well because of the relaxed spontaneous interplay between each, and between us and them.

Dance Side of the Moon 

Choreographer: Helen Simard
Video Projections: Kim-Sandh Chau 
Dancer: Maxine Segalowitz
Freestanding Room 
Montreal Fringe Festival 2018 
May 28-June 17 2018 

Reviewed by Ted Fox 

Helen Simard's challenging and very emotional dance solo takes place in a small studio in Montreal.

Dark Side of the Moon begins with dancer Maxine Segalowitz lashing out one by one at each of the six chairs lined up at the left side. Repeatedly slams each against the wall. Backs up slowly, clutching each chair in front of her, towards audience members seated on the right side until she brushes their legs. Turns quickly. Hands them the chair to clutch and look through for a short time. Perhaps she does this so they can experience the emotional burden she has to bear.

Kim-Sanh Chau's video projection begins on the back wall, and moves to the front. In this scene we see images of trees barren of branches, fields in which animals are blurry specks in fields. Space. Winter. Emptiness. Evocative of the dancer's state of mind. Throughout, an image appears of a golden orb as if the moon were hanging by a thread, unstable like Segalowitz.

Maxine Segalowitz fully encapsulates the effect of being beaten down by society and unable to be herself. The unrelenting expression of this on her body. Her twisting and wrenching. Her stamina, control and muscular strength. Maintaining the tension in her body for 45 minutes.

The hot steamy humidity of the space we are in. Her presence so close. Where we see the shades of emotions morphing over her face and emanating from her body. Anguish. Anxiety. Rage. Frustration. The steely determination to raise herself up. To be herself. Live her life.

The music of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon is a key presence in itself. The lyrics are a metaphoric bombardment/assault. Crashing down on her and pushing her to the floor. 

There are lulls where Segalowitz seems to go into a quiet meditative state. Like being in the eye of a hurricane, waiting for the next tidal wave of turmoil to blow in.

Choreographer Helen Simard at times slides along the floor with Segalowitz, creating a somewhat eerie effect. When Segalowitz moves to an upright position, the shadows created by a flashlight from below create a schizo effect of another personality within her, its shadow moving over and above like an eclipse. This also brings to my mind images of the film Cabinet of Doctor Caligari, which is set in an insane asylum.

At the end, images of spring blossoms come up. The waves of music slowly subside. There is a sense of rebirth and hope. As she lies on the floor isolated in her exhaustion.