Friday, November 3, 2017

ProArteDanza - NextSteps

ProArteDanza - NextSteps
all photos by Aleksandar Antonijevic

Future Perfect Continuous

“The future is scary to me in a way it never used to be.”
Matjash Mrozewski

The clarity of movement, as several dancers take the stage, that permeates Matjash Mrozewsk'si (with the ensemble) Future Perfect Continuous (text by Anna Chatterton), combined with a great talent for creating a layered and balanced stage picture, reveals the artists well-crafed dual role as stage director and choreographer. Mrozewski's work with dancers shows a fine distribution of theatricality and clear elegance that can find playful and powerful ways of raising very distressing issues. Anna Chatterton's text, created for Morzewski's initial concept regarding climate change, is at times whimsical and at times hopelessly hopeful. A yellow balloon accents this paradoxical sense of overcoming our planets greatest challenge and grudgingly giving into it with the clearsighted fancy of a brightly coloured package filled with nothing but air - about to burst. As air, water, and ensuing weather put us all to the test this piece becomes a lovely, disturbing, and puzzlingly hopeful testament to a younger generation's need to address what may very well become the biggest hardship of their old age. 

Although performed beautifully as the dancers take on spoken acting roles with an impressive ease, there is an uneasy, somewhat unfulfilled tension between the precise movement attracting the eye through the director/choreographers talent for finely composed human landscapes, and the writers fragmented line by line distribution of dialogue that at times expresses the wasteful culture we have created and just how little we may be prepared to do. 

Lightly sardonic comical moments occur with the mention of air conditioning and other material needs that contribute to planetary climate mayhem. But there is no clear denouement, no narrative that may have joined the choreography in a final, if not solution, then at the very least some way of leaving the theatre with something to hold on to. And yet perhaps that is precisely the point of Anna Chatterton's deliberate one liner'ish script that moves toward a final monologue that may have been better placed among the dancers as it becomes difficult to focus on both. And the words make the difficulty more intense as the beautifully performed speech, like the yellow balloon, seems to be a hollow symbol of loveliness - about to burst. 

In the program note Mrozewski speaks of increasing fear and our "collective inability to to rise to the challenges we face in terms of climate catastrophe." The choreography and direction is very clear on this issue - keep moving in gracefully bold supportive groups as you find your way through chaos. The text is not so clear as it delves into a series of quips and connective/collective conversation that may very well be all that is left to consider. But they do not provide for a very strong ending for a piece that wants to soar but only flies in the face of what might be done in order to make real change. Lovely, at times thrilling to watch, and yet lacking somewhat as the finale never quite takes flight.

adjusted surrender & Op Sha!

The second half of the evening contrasts the spare, light tones of the first half with lush darkness and costumes that take on perhaps too much character, thereby detracting at times yet always engaging and filled with buoyant energy. 

adjusted surrender opens the second program with a gorgeous layered gown that two dancers come to terms with as they both adjust and surrender themselves out of and back into the confines of the symbolic frock. Kevin O'Day's choreography is starkly gestural and filled with precision giving the overall piece a powerful rhythm around and within the opening costume piece - allowing the choreographer to lead his artists through a maze of intense movement and physically endowed emotion.

The final offering, Op Sha!, bears an endless and evocative citational nature, enhanced by music with so many beautiful and bountiful influences that the stage becomes a playing field of raucous, at times battle-like energy. Costumes bearing somewhat inexplicable pieces flung from the backsides of a pair of tightly packed trousers, although skilfully designed and handled well by the dancers, takes away from O'Days brilliant way of stopping a dancer in mid gesture and allowing them to elegantly glide away from the style they have just so powerfully inhabited. The simultaneous delight and risk of evoking River Dance and other popular crowd pleasers is apparent when the costumes fill the stage with too much unspecified meaning. The piece could have had as much - if not more - power, with simple monotone costumes that defined bodies rather than - perhaps unintentionally - narrating gorgeous movement that simply needs no storied clothing. O'Days knack for rollicking, at times lyrical, and finely measured physicality, interrupted by framed, gesturally contrasting endings made Op Sha! a delight for the eye - and yet a little burdened by effective but inessential fabric. 

proartedanza's 2017 season opening programs continues at the Fleck Dance Theatre, Harbourfront Centre, until November 4th - 8PM

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