Saturday, August 3, 2013 Review by Larissa Kern

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    Scott Martin
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    Saturday, August 3, 2013 Review by Larissa Kern

    A black man in denim shorts entered the dark from Upstage Right.  His upper body bent, he articulated through his spine as he walked in circles with turned out feet. He looked half predator, half man as he meandered in silence. When a small clucking noise was heard, his eyes darted as though searching for the source. Soon, he stopped meandering and began to dance– he jumped, he turned, he crawled, he ran. And to every move he brought intensity and passion.  He did not need music to create emotion or power—every one of his moves used his full physical range and communicated to the audience emotions of fear, desperation and loneliness.

    In this piece, “Man Alone,” choreographer Chris Walker wanted to portray the often “dangerous realities of urban life.” His choreography and Guy Thorne’s execution brought this vision to life last Saturday night at the Scotia Bank Dance Centre.  In the end Thorne collapsed to the ground, and a down pull of light shone on him as he crawled, panting and tired off the stage. 

    In his other work of the evening, “South Facing Window,” Walker used dancer Germaul Barnes to dance about the color and metaphors in the Jamaican Flag. He started wearing jeans and a t-shirt that seemed to constrain him, until he stripped to his “underwear” and danced without holding back.  Like Thorne, Barnes showed extreme athleticism with soaring jumps and great expression with flirtatious glances, goofy smiles and emotional reaches.

    Claire French’s piece, “Inside In,” also dealt with hardship and survival, but from a different point of view. She used one female dancer, Brenda McLaud, an average size white girl with short brown hair to explore survival as coming from simple discipline. The piece opened with recorded dialogue—people discussing doubt.  Then the lights blacked out, and later the audience could hear a scribbling pencil, playing with writing and thinking, writing and thinking…and dancing. McLaud clearly had a strong foundation as she executed off balance extensions and deep lunges with straight legs. French’s choreography went beyond surviving external hardships and explored how people survive the everyday, internal battles caused by doubt.

    The evening’s performance also exhibited subtle humor, live music, role reversal, and recorded comedy. All the dancers demonstrated strength and flexibility, and all the choreographers displayed insight and ingenuity, but these three solos provided the best entertainment, revealed the most insight and most appropriately delivered their message.

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