Tuesday, April 28, 2009

On the Side of the Road to Tour in 2010!

Theatre Junction's new creation, On the Side of the Road, which premiered in Calgary last March has been invited to perform at Harbourfront Center's Worldstage in Toronto in 2010. On the Side of the Road will be performed at Worldstage March 24-27, 2010, with the possibility of further tour stops in Montreal and in Europe. The show was well received by local audiences and media, with the Calgary Herald giving the show 4 stars, calling it "a smart, big hearted, sexy, strange, hallucinatory, Franco Western Canadian piece of cottage country mythology".

And due to popular demand, the show will be remounted in Calgary at Theatre Junction GRAND before it heads off on tour next spring. Those who did not get a chance to see On the Side of the Road when it first played here, will get a second chance to catch the show in early March 2010.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Critical Perspective of Wen Wei Dance's Three Sixty Five by Michael Thomas Taylor

It might be a mistake to say that Wen Wei’s “Three Sixty Five” is danced to Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” because the music has been so radically displaced, as though it had been beamed in from another planet, garbled in transmission and reconstituted in Theatre Junction GRAND. It sounds industrial, but also painfully organic whenever a bow is scraped across cello strings. The past has been wrenched into the future.

But this alien-like displacement of classical form – harmony, repetition, counterpart, and a play between solo and tutti – could be taken as the driving idea behind the show’s movements, meaning not only its physical vocabulary but also the composition of its segments. The pulse of the original score has survived in an idiom of delayed, even spastic jerks and contortions, passed on and copied from one dancer to the next. When dancing as a group, the performers evoke a stand of immobile waving organisms, like sea anemones that have become robots. The dancer’s bodies are most mesmerizing when their entire length seems to flow into their arms and their limbs, becoming all appendage and no torso, while the fingers or toes acquire an intricate, writhing life of their own. Still, the physical movements themselves are largely drawn from a modern vocabulary that can certainly be called ‘classical’ by now, just as the line and tension of the evening as a whole (as well as the leaps and agile athleticism) come from the ballet. Vivaldi’s work is straightforwardly programmatic, from the design of the four seasons to details like the summer storm or the barking dog. And while “Three Sixty Five” resolutely refuses to offer any narrative, its abstract play with form does give way to some thematic moments, all of which are tied to the progression of the seasons. One could disagree about whether the sexual languor of the summer or the closing shrouds of winter are bold anchors for the abstraction or glossy cover shoots. (An uncharitable, acerbic viewer might find the costuming reminiscent of last year’s J. Crew catalog.) It seems significant to me that these moments also remind us how dance itself displaces classical beauty onto the bodies of its artists. Wen Wei’s earlier works confront the disfigurement and violence this displacement demands. But “Three Sixty Five” unabashedly embraces the beauty and purity of its forms in a way that, to my mind, undoes the shock of this displacement and thus smoothes out the disruptive, and hence inventive potential of the performance.

Michael Thomas Taylor
Assistant Professor of German
The University of Calgary