A craving for movement

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 Orange, a text and movement medley exploring some representational movement (a bit like mime) and more abstract, contemporary form. She recounted a conversation with an artist friend who has become obsessed with the colour orange, spurring Jennifer to write a poem, an ode maybe, to all things orange. Though the piece dragged in places near the end (yes that movement on the floor looks cool but we really only need to see it once or twice, not ten times), it was clever and fresh, making a true connection with the audience. I think there is a vast arena for exploration in the intersection of text and movement; you wouldn’t have caught me saying that even just last year when I was completely committed to non-verbal communication as the path for empathic audience engagement (see my unpublished and overstated Master’s thesis). Though Orange was the last piece of the first act, it took me at least a couple pieces following the intermission to not miss the inclusion of text, spoken word, in the dances.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Jennifer McLeish-Lewis2:58 a.m.

    Hi there,

    thanks for your blog. i found it whilst googling my own name. i very much appricate your feedback. i have been told by a few audience members that night that the piece dragged, and am glad to know that now. i had a director, and unfortunatly he did not catch this in time. i am certain that it is much harder to dance in your own choreography then to have a body in space to work for you. lack of funding is my biggest reason for perfming my own work. although, Orange was a special case, since the material was so personal.

    i am in Belrin at the moment, and am trying to get Orange shown here. the showcase is a lot like 12mm, except that the time limit is 10 minutes, so it is the perfect time constrant for shaving off the lagging bits. i wish i had an outside eye for help on this. i will let you know if the piece gets in to the showcase, and if so, how the performance goes. again, that's for the constructive feedback.

    just one question....why did you choose to attent that particular 12mm?