Friday, April 12, 2013



When an incomplete intimate gesture, hinting at a variety of sensually interconnected emotions, becomes a measured, at times playful, at times mournful array of sight and sound, the possibilities for onstage passion are endless. The world premiere of Akshongay, the latest collaboration from acclaimed artists Nova Bhattacharya and Louis Laberge-Côté, possesses a rare intimacy that allows these very different types of dancers to engage in a variety of emotional and physical configurations that depend upon a delicate sense of coming together in explicit, gorgeous units of physical and spiritual entanglements. 

Losing themselves in each others embrace, to powerful gestural moments where separation becomes provocation for laughter, joy, tears, and fleeting erotic tableaus, this fifty minute evening of provocative dance explores "cultural backgrounds, dance backgrounds, passions, regrets, past, and present." 

The Bengail word for together, akshongay is an intensely appropriate term for the ways in which both artists seamlessly fill the stage with a broad spectrum of dance phrasing, ranging from Bhattacharya's loose joyful gestures and sweeping elegance to Laberge-Côté's precise, physically agile way of embracing his dance partner with a wide open muscularity, allowing her strong presence to wrap him in an environment filled with turmoil, gleeful love, and gratifying individual and partnered moments. 

At one moment he twists from a reclining position, away from her horizontally inclined movements, and the swiftness and agility are startlingly and beautifully executed. For close to an hour these two dancers move gracefully and turbulently in and out of each others spheres - all the time keenly aware of the others presence onstage gliding toward worlds together and apart. 

As they frequently unite, the incomplete quality of the movement/physical caress, moving toward a final consummation, suggests a careful attention to detailed choreography whereby dramatic and physical tension is built up through a sense of gradual interconnected segments of union and individuality. Teasingly, they sometimes touch, and they sometimes don't quite touch - all the while enraptured by a single drive to excel. Music by Philip Strong provides a wide range of emotional intensity and gives the finale a beautiful and overwhelming tone, punctuated with an unexpected yet well rounded serenity of mind and body.

The evening is filled with vocal nuance, moments of spoken text, and beautiful instances where Bhattacharya is taken blithely into the arms of her cohort yet somehow crouches within his  magnanimous arms in a way that gives her a corporeal power that simultaneously nestles and springs forth. Opening with a profoundly contrasting pair of emotions, one never gets the sense that these two artists are ever very far apart. Akshongay finds both spiritual harmony and physical dissonance in many beautiful and paradoxical ways, hinting at complex friendship, genuinely felt conflict, and beyond...

Akshongay runs at the Enwave Theatre 
(Harbourfront Centre) until April 13th  

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