Slow Dance at TDT

Slow Dance

(double billed with This Shape, We Are In, which is reviewed separately)

Choreographer: Marie Lambin-Gagnon

Dancers: Yuichiro Inque, Peter Kelly, Devon Snell, Imogen Wilson (though she did not appear in the show reviewed here)

Winchester Street Theatre, Toronto

Jan 23 – Feb 2 2019

Reviewed by Ted Fox

The set design resembles an alien landscape, not unlike those of old Star Trek TV episodes, or those outer space films like Queen of Outer Space with Zsa Zsa Gabor as the queen who walks around wearing a tulle dress trailing behind her. Like these, Slow Dance also has a set and costume made of garish synthetic materials. And like them the predominant colours are orange, blues and gold. These costumes are draped on tall mounds created by props like chairs, crutches, stools and an assortment of objects.

For audience seating, there are only 30 chairs placed in an L shape around, and close to, the set. We gradually see sleeping human forms encased within the mounded displays. One can be seen through a gauzy material. Below, another slumbers. Initially one is hidden from our sightlines so only those to the left can see him.

They slowly, very slowly awaken, their eyes mostly closed. Gradually they slide down from their high positions and move like sleepwalkers. The costumes they are wearing slowly slide down their bodies. They pull on the materials, attempting to re-dress themselves. They fall, writhe, twist and turn; they stand and fall like unbalanced malfunctioning automatons. A sense of heaviness is created as the objects making up the display weigh down their bodies.

The costumes and objects seem to become living entities wearing the humans. One could say the humans have transformed into fashion victims. The result is that they demolish the structures, resulting in a battleground image with objects and costumes strewn everywhere.

It is very impressive watching each performer's agile movement adjustments as the structural objects fall on their heads. Each night the show changes because of their improvisations.

Asa-Sexton Greenberg's electronic score conveys a dreamy meditative state. Occasionally it becomes heightened and energetic, counterpointing the lethargic atmosphere, like a fast urban environment versus a slow more natural state.

I find I am interacting with this. It raises questions such as how the costume's colour, natural or synthetic texture and weight affect a dancer's performance.

Innovative, visually and orally arresting and very humorous.