When Dana Michel presented Yellow Towel at Festival TransAmériques last year, I unfortunately missed it. After catching up with her work earlier this season at Usine C with Uncanny Valley Stuff, I knew this situation needed to be rectified. And now it has thanks to MAI.
For these reasons, there is something of an exorcism to Michell’s performance, an unfiltered quality. Words and movements pour out of the body in a seemingly uncontrolled fashion, creating odd and often humorous juxtapositions. “In the beginning,” she might blurt out, but she’s not talking about the Word, though who knows… Her speech runs like an internal monologue, mostly incomprehensible to anyone who is not her, who does not know what fills the gaps.
Her body appears to be as uncontrollable as her train of thought. She is hunched over, constantly shaking. When she removes her black hoodie, Q-tips are stuck in her hair. She takes one of them to clean out her ear while blowing in a trumpet. She uses a tiny white blow-up pool as a couch, which molds her body into awkward positions as she clumsily attempts to drink milk, more running down her face than her throat.
The character she creates is also elusive. When she puts on a baseball cap, it maintains her hair over her face, rendering her anonymous. Never does she look at the audience, maintaining this internal world that we only get to peek at in the moments that strike us as potentially familiar.
It is easy to understand why the prestigious ImPulsTanz Festival created an award especially for Michel. Her performance is one of the most compelling we have had the chance to see in recent years. She fully commits to it, appearing like a medium whose body has been taken over by this strange creature. So, when she spends a few minutes slowly drinking from a bowl of water, we are there with her with the same intensity we would be were she actually possessed. The experience is as fascinating as it is hilarious.
December 4-6 at 8pm
Montréal, arts interculturels
Tickets: 25$ / Students: 20$