Last night myself and a few friends took in 12 Minutes Max, the 32nd annual instalment put on by the Firehall Arts Centre and the Scotiabank Dance Centre. 12MM is a showcase of emerging and established dance and interdisciplinary artists, each piece being no longer than 12 minutes (obviously) and some pieces lasting only the length of a song. It’s been ages since I attended a dance show - January to be exact - and as the time lapse grows between one show and the next, each performance more strongly reminds me what I’m missing by not dancing or being involved in the dance world.
Ten pieces were showcased last night, a wide variety of forms and interests displayed. The most striking piece for me was Caroline Liffman’s movement study performed by Julia Carr. Julia, dressed only in a simple but elegant black strappy dress, stretched the boundaries of physics and the human body: She lowered herself nearly to the floor over an agonisingly beautiful two or three minutes, arching backwards so far and for so long that the audience held its collective breath just waiting for gravity to kick in. It didn’t. The piece might have been 6 minutes long in total and my eyes were glued to Julia the entire time, watching her fluidly contort her body through sanguine, feline stretches and poses. So simple and so rewarding.
Jennifer McLeish-Lewis performed
One final piece should get a mention for innovation and beauty: Shae Zukiwsky ’s through is a study of the body confronted by a nonhuman object and the ways we find to interact with such things. Shae wore one sock and one rollerblade that seemed to be fashioned from an old-school, black leather ice skate. Disregarding the endless moments of pregnant (read: constipated-looking) pause, the collaboration of the dancer and the skate was seamless. Some movements flowed fast and furious, displaying the power of gliding and speed. Some moments of high tension occurred as the dancer pointed his skated foot so it bore no weight, and painfully (this is not quite the right word but it will have to do), tirelessly, worked to draw himself up onto pointe on his load-bearing, sock-wearing foot. When gimmicks like a single roller skate are used, it is hard to imagine the resulting piece will be anything but contrived and self-indulgent. Shae made it work by displaying great agility, innovation and artistry.
Note to self: see and do more dance. Andrea Nann is performing this Sunday - definitely worth trying to get to.