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Review: Living Dances

Posted by art On November - 23 - 2011

Living Dances
Choreographed by James Kudelka
Performed by Rhonda Baker, Ryan Boorne, Valerie Calam, Michael Caldwell, Lauren EM Chin, Luke Garwood, Andrew Giday, Tyler Gledhill, Jones Henry, Laurence Lemieux, Daniel McArthur, Michael Sean Marye, Christianne Ullmark
November 12 @ Ryerson Theatre

By Tina Chu

Living Dances opened with Fifteen Heterosexual Duets, which saw Kudelka explore heterosexuality through male and female roles. Without a hint of cliché, the choreography’s simplicity lies only in the clarity of each duet and how Kudelka is able to capture and convey personalities without any excess in stylization where each gesture felt necessary and just right.

Admittedly, there were split seconds where certain duets felt ever so slightly dissonant, but overall the piece possessed a coherent and natural progression that allowed the fifteen duets to meld into and unravel from one another.

Particularly captivating were the duets of Valerie Calam and Daniel McArthur. Calam and McArthur were the only dancers to share the same partners throughout the piece and unsurprisingly so, as their compatibility as dancers were unmistakable and aside from Christianne Ullmark and Ryan Boorne’s duet, the pair seemed to truly steal the show.

Where certain performers stood out more than others in Fifteen Heterosexual Duets, by contrast, In Paradisum saw indisputably flawless performances from all dancers. A piece predicated on the dignity of death and the varied attitudes that exist to cope with it, In Paradisum is unexpectedly accessible and remarkably profound.

Led with principal performances by Laurence Lemieux, Andrew Giday, and Ryan Boorne, the piece misses nothing in its portrayal of the complex tangle of emotions that accompanies death. And though the piece represents death, it is more interested in death as an experience of the living and thus it lacks the shadow of morbidity and pervades instead, a sense of representing something acutely humane above all else.

Finally, my personal favourite, Soudain, l’hiver dernier, a truly arresting duet for two men, saw immaculate and wholly gripping performances from Andrew Giday and Michael Sean Marye. Set to Gavin Bryars’ Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet, the piece is built largely upon a set of fixed routines, the methodical repetition of which felt analogous to the performance of some stoic ceremony, diffusing a sense of subjection to these movements as Giday and Marye performed them.

Yet, though bound to their repetition, Giday and Marye would suddenly rise out of the routine and metamorphose into delicate build-ups of lifts and balances so that the repetition and re-combinations of these routines, instead of being redundant, felt arresting and sharply resilient.

Thus, with Giday and Marye’s masterful interpretation, the repetition of movements did not deprive the performance, but layered it, giving dimension to the routines while capturing the human spirit central to the piece–one’s blind faith in survival and the immutable instinct to persevere and press onward.

An aptly named presentation, Living Dances will undoubtedly continue the acclaim of Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie and needless to say, their performance in Burlington on November 29 should simply not be missed.

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