The sight and sounds of waves lapping against the shore. A woman in an Elizabethan ruff and a plastic body brace—a whale-bone corset? an exoskeleton?—who begins to move her arms and hips in slow, undulating circles as voice-over text in English and Catalan talks of the mixed histories bred into those bones. She is soon joined by two other women, both similarly attired. The three fates, perhaps, come to speak and sing and move us, along with period instruments like the alto gamba and the lute and the oud, back across the Atlantic, that middle passage whose various repertoires we all must re-cross—sometimes above deck, sometimes below—as we daily negotiate our dis-placed identities in a globalized age that stretches back at least to Columbus.
So begins Henry Daniel’s Here Be Dragons/Non Plus Ultra, an interdisciplinary collaboration with composer Owen Underhill and dancers and musicians and performers from Barcelona and Vancouver, that, in Daniel’s words, explores “new architectures of memory and belonging, forever going east to find west and west to find east.” Its final performance is tonight at the Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre at SFU Woodward’s. If you are looking for an immersive sensory experience, one whose various acoustic, visual, and kinesthetic stimuli will also fire your brain, then this is the performance for you. And, apropos my Critical Writing in the Arts course, it’s the perfect barca, or vehicle, for descriptive and interpretive analysis.