Wednesday, January 16, 2013

PuSh 2013: A Crack in Everything

After our opening Gala at Club 560 on Monday night, the 2013 PuSh Festival officially launched last night at SFU Woodward’s Fei and Milton Wong Theatre with zoe/juniper’s A Crack in Everything. In keeping with discussions I’ve been having with students in my Critical Writing in the Arts class this semester—and in part as a necessary mechanism of time-management—I’m going to keep my PuSh reviews short this year, and consequently tilted more toward descriptive and experiential rather than interpretive analysis.

Appropriate, therefore, that A Crack is such a sensorially rich and immersive piece, starting with Juniper Shuey’s video projections, which convey a porosity, a liquid viscosity, in keeping with the shiny white vinyl covering the floor of the stage. At times, especially in those moments when the equally stunning musical score (which combines well-known lieder and opera arias by Schubert and Purcell with original electro-acoustic compositions by Greg Haines) is stilled, and the dancers slowly take each other’s hands and then step and pivot in duos and trios in Zoe Scofield’s unique take on courtly dance, it’s as if the dancers are floating on a cloud, or (and here the title of the piece may be relevant) negotiating the slippery surface of a lake that’s not quite frozen. But the fact that we hear in these same moments the sticky sound of the dancers’ steps, along with the effort of their breathing, means that they are also one with that surface, and elsewhere Scofield exploits this in her choreography by using the floor like a trampoline or a sponge, launching her dancers vertically or sinking them horizontally into complex patterns of unison movement.

All of which is to say that for me the sense most triggered by this show was touch. From that porous vinyl floor, to the layers of opaque, sheer, and transparent scrims and screens (including one onto which Scofield traces the outline of her body in red marker), to perhaps the evening’s most stunning image—that of the dancers moving with lengths of red thread in their mouths: tactility was my way into this arresting and complex work.


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