Review: The Morrison Series, Dance made in Canada |fait au Canada

by Liliana Guevara Opinska

The Morrison series, part of the Dance: made in Canada| fait au Canada (d: mic| fic) (August 13th-16th, at the Betty Oliphant theatre) included works by Kate Hilliard, Marie France Forcier and Throwdown Collective.

The series opened with “La Jeune Femme et La Mort” by Kate Hillard. This is a piece with a very specific and carefully thought out visual aesthetic, that at times feels theatrical (even cinematic). A performance space, smaller then the stage is delimitated by a white dance floor. Videos and images are projected during the performance on a white screen of equal proportions as the dance area. A DJ set is placed to the left of the dance area. Sound and video designer, Jeremy Mimnagh, manipulates the music on stage while Kate Hillard and Robert Abubo perform. The costumes, designed by Julia Lee, are an important element in the visual construction of this work. The overall color/ mood of the piece seems to be light gray.

Abubo’s stage presence, as he stands still at the beginning of the piece, is striking, as are his intensely sparkling eyes. Hillard emanates a sense of inaccessibility and loneliness. She interacts with Abubo constantly during the performance, however there is a sense of isolation and miscommunication throughout the work. There is a duo in the piece, in which we can observe the dependence of the two performers on each other. Abubo catches Hillard as she lets herself fall; the dancers seem to need one another even when they do not understand each other.

The piece succeeds in setting up a very specific sense of strangeness and “communication breakdown”.

Marie France Forcier’s “Little Guidebook for Using your Suffering Wisely” is a short piece based on her own interest in post-traumatic stress. The solo choreographed and performed by Forcier is set to a recording, which simulates an audiobook on how to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder. Forcier, seems to be trapped in darkness as she dances with only a small spotlight illuminating her.

The work is not complex technically, but it is highly emotional. It is not an easy piece to watch and it requires determination and strong will of the audience, in order to be understood and appreciated. It reminds me Guillaume Côté’s “Being and Nothingness”. Forcier’s work can also be considered an existential analysis.

My favorite work from the series is Throwdown Collective’s “Various Concert”. This work, choreographed and performed by Zhenya Cerneacov, Mairéad Filgate and Brodie Stevenson, is a creative and ambitious investigation into movement. It is an abstract piece focused on developing new dance vocabulary rather than on a specific subject. The program description is dead-on: “Various Concert sculpts space and time in a constantly shifting dynamic trio of action and reaction. With the anticipation of connection, tension builds as recognizable structures fade in and out of visibility and the performers gradually find points of intersection. What emerges is a highly attuned dance of unsettled interdependency”.

The common point for all the works in the program is that the three choreographers are also performers in their own pieces. Curator, Yvonne Ng, notes that this fact adds intimacy and proximity to these works. The Morrison series includes three very distinct and innovative dance performances.