Saturday, May 10, 2014

Neither Here Nor There at SFU Woodward's

The MFA students at SFU's School for the Contemporary Arts are staging a year-end festival of new work called Neither Here Nor There at SFU Woodward's through this Sunday. Last night I caught a double bill of very intriguing dance pieces.

Stroking the Unknown Dog is a structured improvisation for five dancers and a musician conceived by choreographer Emmalena Fredriksson. Responding to a set of instructions from Fredriksson, to the music (by Alex Mah), to each other, and no doubt to the audience (who sit in the round), the dancers make real-time movement choices of shape, proximity, massing, etc. that, in the words of Fredriksson, reveal "notions of individuality, community and the animals within."

Aril is a collaboration between dancer-choreographer Yves Candau and lighting designer Kyla Gardiner (who was also responsible for the illumination in Stroking the Unknown Dog). Exploring "the interplay between form and function in ... emergent patterns of human locomotion," Candau isolates the drive toward mobility in individual limbs and joints, crafting out of everyday activities like reaching and bending a mesmerizing tapestry of movement. Embroidering and overlaying this tapestry with live lighting projections, Gardiner adds rich visual texture as she alternates her washes of colour from inky pools of blue and black to vibrant splashes of red and wispy swirls of white.

The festival kicked off on Wednesday with a durational five-hour performance installation by Luciana D'Anunciacao called The door is open, please come in. While I could only stay for a brief half hour, it was enough time to take in a gorgeous ritual cleansing sequence involving water, herbs, flower petals and a length of white muslin--into which D'Anunciacao first wrapped and then extricated her body. Additional installation elements included a large looping video projection at one end of the studio (wrapped around the corner of the wall and showcasing D'Anunciacao's trademark play with perspective), a hammock in another corner, ripe mangos laid out on the floor, and an immersive sound score by Alex Mah. The installation was certainly a feast for the senses. I only wished I could have stayed longer.


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