Friday, November 13, 2015


For all the non-specific meaning that some modern dance embodies, EUNOIA – created and choreographed by Denise Fujiwara (Fujiwara Dance Inventions) and based on Christian Bok’s acclaimed book of poetry - overwhelms with meaning of at times whimsical, gendered, heteronormative, racialized and annoyingly nonsensical proportions - at times morphing into seemingly (but not really) happenstance opaque profundity as sparse definition emerges from singular syllabic obsession.

EUNOIA (the book) is a slim volume of five sections, each section utilizing a single vowel in order to create paragraphs of meandering narrative that may or may not appeal to one’s sense of meaning. For example, allow me to give it a go;

popcorn pops orbs of o’s on pool floors


ether even enters eels necks

How ‘bout that eh? The sixty-minute dance version of the poetry suite is comical, at times entertaining, and filled with game show like strategies, beginning with a bout of vowel ridden hangman placed on a chalkboard-like prop front and centre. It is all very day to daytime TV-like shenanigans as the casual costumes even fulfill a very practical, alphabetic approach to language and living. Where is Vanna White in a devastatingly understated evening gown  when we really need her?

At one point an air powered popcorn maker pops onstage, only to have it’s built in bowl disassembled and passed around the audience. I love popcorn but can only manage so many greasy palms rummaging through it by the time it gets to my eager lap. By the eighth row I refrained and politely passed it along. But it was all such fleeting fun.

Unfortunately, the choreography, at times - unintentionally perhaps - plays second banana (banana has three vowels and they are all the same? Wow!) doesn’t quite stand up to the flimsical (yes, flimsical) strength of sheer cleverness that Bok’s poetic premise foretells. Large video screens tend to become more interesting than the rather pedestrian movement onstage. A lack of dynamic interaction - singular reiterative dance phrasing that might have echoed the poetry’s dependence on systematic repetition and sheer bravado through an obsession with the A E I O U of language - might have pulled the piece out of the popular milieu of the overall party like tone of the primary mise en scene.

But it was fun, for a time, and then, after the popcorn pops and the bodies unboldly bounce and the contestants win the game of vowelistic hangman, well, there’s not much left to wonder at or about.  


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