BoucharDanse at The Winchester Street Theatre

A Congruence of Arrivals

Cross My Heart and Hope

Choreographed by Denise Fujiwara

Created with and performed by Sylvie Bouchard

Music by Phil Strong

at yes of day

Choreographed by Yvonne Coutts (in close collaboration with the performers)

Performed by Marc Boivin and Sylvie Bourchard

Produced by BoucharDanse at the Winchester Street Theatre

September 27-29, 2018


Reviewed by Beverley Daurio


The two works for BourcharDanse in A Congruence of Arrivals —by Denise Fujiwara and Yvonne Coutts— are very different; this creates an extremely wide aesthetic and emotional range for performers to explore, and for the audience’s experience.

The title of the first piece, Cross My Heart and Hope, is a truncated version of the children’s saying: “Cross my heart and hope to die.” Fujiwara explores the loss of childhood innocence to abuse, centering in Bouchard’s portrayal of a viscerally affecting, vulnerable, beseeching and isolated spirit child. Bouchard and Fujiwara have chosen an indirect approach—none of the violence or abuse is described or re-enacted; nothing is made specific about the girl’s experiences—and this induction is all the more powerful because it draws us inside girl spirit’s attempts to communicate what she of course does not explicitly or literally understand.

Barefoot, dressed in a simple sleeveless white tunic and culottes, Bouchard first appears as a pale glowing light in dark silence; as the stage brightens with mottled woodland patterns, she is lying on the ground, lost in a forest, and rising or waking up, alone.

Bouchard’s performance is sensitive, delicate and profound; she captures pain and limitation in slow walking, fearful arm and leg movements and an internalized lack of curiosity that feels strange and hurtful in a child; she expresses hope and a desire to heal in flashes of mild delight, but these moments are fleeting. Bouchard is utterly believable as a little girl, a wraith-like presence, a spirit, and a woman’s own battered child-self living in the present in memory. The score and lighting enhance the piece at every moment, moving with Bouchard and supporting the emotional expression of her performance.

The second work in the evening, “at yes of day,” is choreographed by Yvonne Coutts with Bouchard and Marc Boivin. While the first piece is unrestrainedly emotionally pulling from its first seconds, “at yes of day” is a more distanced and even arch piece. The audience members are asked under full house lights if we would like to see the piece from the beginning, or if we would prefer to see it from three quarters of the way through, then ending with the actual beginning. This causes some questioning and interesting mild stress for the audience members, who are now voting and involved and responsible to a degree for how a piece we haven’t yet seen should unfold. The vote is that the piece should start three quarters of the way through, and Boivin sits on a kind of rolling cart close to the floor, and wraps Bouchard around him.

During the course of the piece, Boivin and Bouchard seem to go through days and days in relationship to each other, to the world, to their work. They walk, they walk backwards, they engage in complex pas de deux with difficult sideways lifts. They change their clothes several times; they change their moods. They observe and engage, and through most of this they are in full light, which conveys a sense of transparency and openness, while at the same time their interactions, from the friendly to the amorous to bickering, show the constant complexity of being with other humans.

The movement is casual, informal, loose-limbed but intense and purposeful; there is a lot of strolling, backing across the space, diagonals. There is a fine sense of play and the comedic, beginning with the relaxed audience vote during the opening, and continuing with the set-up—a voice talks about doing a story conference “about disturbance, resistance” and suggests “taking out the goats”— and other small funny awkward moments add depth to the piece’s explorations.

Whether they are tussling as part of a sudden loud argument that is intimate but cool, ignoring each other as they follow different lines across the stage, or changing their costumes in opposite corners, Bouchard and Boivin maintain a tensile connection that is at times delicate and other times loving and bound, as they live inside the urgent soundscape, or in silences that are shapes inside the soundscape.

Bouchard and Boivin are impeccable, engaged with each other and the audience in a most natural, organic way, that is nevertheless perfectly performative. I don’t think I’ve seen another post-modernist-leaning piece that was able to keep the art and dance narrative present and clear, but sweetly undercut the Authority of Art at the same time. Very clever, moving and intriguing.