because the personal is cultural
Three choreographers, three pieces, three Canadian cities.
Pale Water (Première Partie), Dorian Nuskind-Oder (Montréal)
At first, but a backlit silhouette against a white screen.
Then, neon strips are positioned on six sides around Nuskind-Oder, with gaps in between, so that the eye can read a hexagon, an octagon, a dodecagon, or a simple triangle depending on the lines that are lit or extrapolated.
Many dance shows have live musicians onstage. Pale Water does something cheekier: it is as lighting designer that Simon Grenier-Poirier is onstage.
Nuskind-Oder’s movement is quiet, slow, deliberate. Her body is controlled until it appears to be in suspension.
I don’t want it to be over.
Falling Off the Page, Jacinthe Armstrong (Halifax)
Falling Off the Page begins with one dancer’s hand seemingly controlling the other dancer’s foot, like a puppeteer and her dummy. This is the first in a long series of clichés:
-They wash their hair in pots filled with water in a purifying ritual.
-They travel along a road made of light (after first appearing in a square prison of light).
-They unroll a paper carpet along the lit road.
-They dip their hair in paint and drag it across the paper.
-They look back at the road travelled.
One redemptive quality: it is not uncommon for dancers here to jump in the air and let themselves fall heavily back on the ground; in Armstrong’s choreography, the dancers instead jump into the air and let their limbs float up so that for a second they almost seem to fly.
La petite mort, Maryse Damecour (Québec)
Original movement emerges when a physical constraint is added to an otherwise common gesture, like when Brice Noeser walks on all fours, but with his hands covering his face so that it is his elbows that are dragging him across the floor. It is always refreshing when a choreographer is preoccupied by something other than beauty, when the dance is allowed to be delightfully awkward, and not without humour. La petite mort revels in abrupt transitions and, when it pretends to be joyful, it’s laughable because it rings false.
It is always a treat to watch Noeser, who has such a distinct corporality, move.
has an MA in Film Studies and works in contemporary dance. His fiction has appeared in Headlight Anthology, Cactus Heart, and Birkensnake.
s.verstricht [at] gmail [dot] com