Review: The Body In Question
On today’s stages, there’s no shortage of thoughtful and creative works from talented dance artists and creators – original choreographies that pull you in through the sheer magnificence of the movements. With risk-takers all around us, it’s rare to find a work that truly goes against the grain; we often see inventive choreography, but it’s a rare thing to witness original movement, or moreover an unusual intention behind the movement.
The Body In Question, constituting of the two solo works At Once and News, is performed by Toronto Dance Theatre’s Christopher House and choreographed – or perhaps composed by iconic Choreographer Deborah Hay. This is one work that truly achieves the elusive status as unquestionably “original”. As seen at the Firehall Arts Centre last Tuesday evening as part of Dancing on the Edge, The Body In Question manages to be intelligent and communicative while at the same time, mesmerizing.
House first learned this work in Findhorn, Scotland in 2009 where he was a part of the Solo Performance Commissioning Project along with 19 other dancers. Here, House received personalized guidance from Hay on this work, along with strict directions to rehearse these solos everyday for three months without an audience once back on Canadian soil. The result is a masterpiece all his own.
With many hidden concepts alive in this work – among them the juxtaposition between joy and sorrow and the release of movement the moment it leaves the body – it is preferable to analyze this piece on a surface level as a reaction to what you see before you.
While two distinct solos, they both shared very similar characteristics. Executing the movement, House was very much ‘of the moment’, aware of each twist of the arm or flick of the foot as it was happening, as opposed to having a pre-determined intention before the fact. Indecipherable chanting and singing added a blissful dimension to an otherwise silent performance, and awareness from House for the audience and the environment led to some playful moments with the curtains, the stairway, and a squeaky spot on the floor he came across by chance.
Dress shoes added to an otherwise casual outfit in At Once, and a playful kilt in News added an additional layer of intrigue; perhaps the kilt was selected as a nod to the country in which he first learned this work, then again maybe it was an arbitrary selection in an attempt to keep us guessing.
With one more showing, The Body In Question is an original, captivating work that dance devotees throughout the city certainly won’t want to miss.