Wednesday, May 8, 2013

in association with Harbourfront Centre's NextSteps

The current offering from kaeja d’DANCE, at the Enwave theatre until May 11th, is a disarming and beautiful exploration of simple movement that relies upon a precise, at times deeply intimate commingling of voice, body, and risky camaraderie.

What begins as a casual collection of audience members and pre-selected ‘couples' - all in pairs dancing, then being gracefully led out of the playing space as the lights dim - ends in a delightful cacophony of professional dance artists, and a selection of new couples, frolicking onstage in a refreshing array of choreography, directed mingling, and apocalyptic denouement.

…why we think and behave as we do, in love, to love, for love and to be loved.
 Karen Kaeja

Beginning with CRAVE, subtitled ‘intimacy: into-me-see,’ Karen Kaeja’s choreography leads the daring and powerful bodies of Stéphanie Tremblay Abubo and Michael Caldwell through a labyrinth of casual and highly crafted patterns, filling the stage with what the choroegrapher calls “the emotional landscape of intimacy.” 

In her program notes Kaeja speaks of imperfection and “the commitment to excavate a rich and fertile relationship “ that “keeps digging, bearing its gifts in all its sweet and hideous colors.” And this is precisely what Crave achieves as the two dancers flirt, entangle, smoke, collapse into large  cushiony props and each other, ultimately representing, in gorgeous individual form and casual interplay, the rich, clumsy, eloquent, and unexpected layers we reveal when we attempt to couple.

Weaving with intimacy and flight both aerial and interpersonal.

Allen Kaeja

X-ODUS, Choreographed by Allan Kaeja, takes on a somewhat more boundary resistant tone as a new set of spectators are led onstage. Beginning as mere onlookers on benches, they gradually become an integral part of the intimate goings on. An almost tribal arrangement of dancers weave themselves across the stage, meeting for tableau moments from time to time, amidst the rhythmic, initially frolicking music of Edgardo Moreno, and ending with a haunting, ominous musical climax. 

By this time the non-dancers have been integrated - directed to follow and at times mimic - into the movements of the dancing cast. Moments of syncopated staccato physical touching - a kind of gestural contact dance - punctuate X-ODUS, finishing with powerful groupings, and finally a line of professional dancers and audience/dancers surrounded in a decidedly less lighthearted, more somber musical landscape. Sharp musical contrast and physical prowess give the finale a near apocalyptic tone, as benches are moved and a single dancer becomes a kind of caged, writhing prey to those around him. Onlookers have been integrated seamlessy in  a way that has drawn the rest of the audience into the “distracted connections, vulnerability and depth” of what Allen Kaeja calls “their fragile and explosive journeys.”

The overall evening is indeed a fragile and explosive journey as both Karen and Allen Kaeja take the ultimate audience-performer risk by inviting their guests onstage. On opening night they succeeded beautifully with a layered, impeccably directed arrangement of movement, music, and choreography that began with intimate beginnings and flirted with what were simultaneously delightful, explosive, risky and magically unexpected endings.

At the ENWAVE THEATRE, Harbourfront,
until May 11th, 8PM

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