Saturday, November 2, 2013

Drawing Inside and Outside the Lines at EDAM

EDAM's fall mixed program, inside the lines/the lines inside, was just the kind of treat that was needed on a rainy evening following Halloween.

Artistic Director Peter Bingham started things off with Reinventing the Curve, a new contact duet danced by Monica Strehlke and Farley Johansson. The piece begins with Strehlke closing her eyes and Johanssson whispering her name; Strehlke leans into the call, and this becomes the mechanism for a solo exploration of the body moving through space, with Strehlke guided only by Marc Stewart's music and Johannson's beckoning signposting. Eventually Strehlke comes to a stop and the sequence is repeated, this time with Johansson closing his eyes and Strehlke serving as guide. Physical contact is, however, eventually made by the two dancers, with two sequences of inventive partnering featuring great floor (and wall) work especially standing out. In between, Bingham also includes a long stretch of unison movement--unusual for him, but structurally very effective in this piece.

Next up was New Raw, a piece created and performed by Deanna Peters in collaboration with Molly McDermott, Elissa Hanson, and Alexa Mardon. It's a fierce exploration of grrrlness that uses an eclectic musical score and a range of bodily tempos and rhythms to show a spectrum of female "fronts." Of particular interest in that respect was that all four performers are introduced to us with their faces turned away or obscured. By the end of the piece, however, as they move back and forth between upstage and downstage, showing us just how fully in their bodies they are, they are very much in our faces, and the piece builds to a thrilling climax.

The final piece on the program was my colleague Rob Kitsos's Con-found, an experiment in real-time composition created in collaboration with students and alumni from SFU's School for the Contemporary Arts. Losing things--wallets on rollercoasters, phone numbers, one's memory--becomes the thematic refrain around which the performers build a series of movement, textual, and musical phrases, choosing when and how to build the work as a whole in the moment of performance itself. The text may, at times, have dominated the movement, and sometimes transitions were lost in the confusion of bodies criss-crossing the stage; however, there were also sublime moments of supplementation and synchronicity, when the repetition or steady accretion of a simple gesture (hands fluttering before chests) and the arrangement of bodies on stage (in horizontal or vertical lines, in aligned pairs on the floor or against a wall) were starkly beautiful.


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