Saturday, March 8, 2014

Tempest Replica Redux

Last night, at SFU Woodward's Fei and Milton Wong Theatre, was a chance to revisit Crystal Pite's Tempest Replica, the most recent of her works for her company Kidd Pivot. I had first seen the piece in 2012 when it was staged at the Playhouse by DanceHouse. After touring the work to the US and Europe, Pite took a year's sabbatical; now she is back, relaunching Kidd Pivot with another mini-tour of The Tempest Replica, one that will take her to Sadler's Wells in London, where Pite has just been appointed an Associate Artist, and for whom she will be choreographing a large-scale work later this year.

The good news, however, is that despite such high-profile commissions--and multiple offers to lead major companies elsewhere--Pite has made the decision to remain in Vancouver and to use the city (and, I gather from SFU Cultural Programs Director Michael Boucher, SFU Woodward's) as her base to make new work for Kidd Pivot. That work will now have to be project-to-project based, as the stable multi-year funding she enjoyed from Frankfurt between 2010-2012 is not possible here (the latest tour has been partially subvented by an Indiegogo campaign). Still, Pite seems determined to make a go of it, and we are the luckier for it. To have such an internationally renowned dance artist making work here, in Vancouver, and mentoring local performers and choreographers is extraordinary.

As I have already blogged at length about the 2012 Vancouver production of The Tempest Replica, I won't elaborate on too much more here. I mostly wanted to see if the archive of my memory of that earlier performance matched Pite's repertory re-enactment of the piece--not least as I have an article coming out shortly in Dance Research Journal (46.1) on Pite's work and so wanted to ensure that my description of the piece was more or less accurate. As far as I can tell, Pite has made only minor adjustments, tightening up a movement transition here, tweaking a sound or light cue there. I don't recall there being as much projected text from Shakespeare's play in the second half as I witnessed last night, but that may just be a trick of memory. Ironically, it is Pite's use of text (projected, narrated, etc.) that is partly the focus of my article.

The movement is as compelling and complex as ever, and it is always a pleasure to see how Pite's amazingly gifted dancers incarnate that balance--or pivot--between technical precision and fluid organicity that her choreography requires. This remains most kinesthetically affecting to me in the duets that structure the second half--with the lush and ethereal pairings between Prospero (Eric Beauchesne) and Ariel (Sandra Marín Garcia), and Ferdinand (Peter Chu, filling in for Jermaine Spivey) and Miranda (Cindy Salgado), a counter-weight (quite literally) to the more tough and muscular ones between Antonio (Yannick Matthon) and Sebastian (David Raymond, replacing Jiří Pokorný), and Prospero and Caliban (Bryan Arias).

The Tempest Replica is Pite's most fully realized Gesamtkuntswerk to date, a piece in which movement and text and sound and visual design are seamlessly integrated. The contributions of Pite's Vancouver collaborators (composer Owen Belton, sound designers Alessandro Juliani and Meg Roe, lighting designer Robert Sondergaard, set designer Jay Gower Taylor, projection maestro Jamie Nesbitt, and costumers Nancy Bryant and Linda Chow) are central to this. That Pite has made the decision to continue working with this local community of virtuosic talent is her gift to this city. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.


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