Elvis & The Man In Black


Elvis & The Man In Black

Choreographers Laurence Lemieux / James Kudelka

The Citadel Ross Centre For Dance

Mimi Herrndorf Studio Theatre

May 2-5 & 9-12 2018

Reviewed by Ted Fox

This double bill features works by noted choreographers Laurence Lemieux and James Kudelka. Lemieux's Looking For Elvis is a challenging work loosely based on Elvis Presley recordings and songs. Kudelka's The Man In Black is a tightly choreographed intensely danced work to Johnny Cash recordings of six songs written by others.

Looking For Elvis 

Choreographer Laurence Lemieux

Dancers Erin Poole, Christianne Ullmark, Daniel McArthur, Michael Caldwell, Tyler Gledhill, Luke Garwood, Andrew McCormack

Opens with the dancers walking around what could be an auditorium or rehearsal space complete with moveable lights.

The dancers begin one by one walking into this space, seemingly assessing it, each other and us. Bright floor lights make their bodies indistinct. Each sits with the others in a line in front of these lights while one begins to explore a movement vocabulary.

All isolated in their own space engrossed in the process of rehearsing their movements. Each does similar moves of long elongated movements of hands, arms and legs. In slow motion. Freezing occasionally into animated cutouts like jigsaw puzzle figures. Then come together in a short segment all making these same moves in synch with each other.

Initially there is a hesitation in coming to interact with the others to create a piece. Awareness of eyes observing and assessing each other's moves. One scene has Christianne Ullmark smiling confidently doing her moves. One in group gives her a so so not bad facial reaction. Whereupon her face takes on a disgruntled look as she goes back into the watching group.

Interesting that she wears an eye-catching springlike green dress. The other woman in the piece, Erin Poole, is in black blending in and disappearing in the group.

How conscious are they of us observing them? Do they adjust according to what vibes come from us?

Throughout John Gzowski's sound design includes recordings of Elvis in conversation interspersed with snippets of his songs. Elvis talks about influences on his life, his relationship to his mother and other private thoughts. His need for privacy contrasts with the uncomfortable feelings he has of being a success,

A thought-provoking meditative work well-performed by the dancers.


The Man In Black

Choreography James Kudelka

Dancers: Erin Poole, Luke Garwood, Tyler Gledhill, Daniel McArthur

The Man In Black is totally different. A shorter piece in which the dancers, one woman and three men, perform six entire songs sung by Johnny Cash.

They are decked out in Western style clothing complete with cowboy boots.

Their movements are a high-adrenalin charged blend of country dance including square dance, step dancing and line.

There is a fierceness and desperation in their interpretation. They are always linked together in some way. Muscular arms pulling each other forward, back and around, shaped as if driven by a compelling force within in addition to the music without. Has the feel that they are bound together in loneliness and isolation.

Erin Poole is the only woman in it. This fact and the way she is repeatedly lifted and swung around create a mood of testoserone-driven violence.

The climax is electrifying in its intensity. They move in waves towards us. Both the music and their movements permeate our bodies so intense are they.

A really effective ending to a superbly danced work.