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Kidd Pivot Frankfurt RM / Crystal Pite

June 10, 2012

The You Show

Reviewed June 9, 2012

NAC Theatre, Ottawa

(Canada Dance Festival 2012)

Dance generally has its own voice and tells its story through body language. But Crystal Pite, the award-winning Canadian choreographer and founder/artistic director of the Vancouver-based Kidd Pivot, has created a drama in The You Show, where the voice is the work, unfolding the drama through carefully contrived movement.

Three shorter duets, followed by a longer finale featuring the nine company dancers, The You Show is an emotionally exhausting work of theatre that uses the human body to tell stories of death, conflict, fear and identity in relationships.

Predominantly the performances are dark and reflective. The dancers are often shadows on a dimly lit stage as well as shadows of each other. The accompaniment, mostly original music by long-time collaborator Owen Belton, is fierce and sharp.

The first and last dances, A Picture of You Falling (first presented in 2008) and A Picture of You Flying, are brilliant works of art. The former features the haunting voice of Kate Strong dramatizing death by invoking memories of youth and one’s final moments: “You remember the wind and the taste of salt,” “This is the sound of your heart hitting the floor,” “This is how it ends.”

Duo Anne Plamondon, a guest of the company, and Peter Chu, whose expressive body deftly becomes the drama itself, present a riveting short story under 10 carefully controlled spotlights that mark the memories.

Photograph by Jorg Baumann

Cleverly left for the finale, A Picture of You Flying is a mini drama about a superhero in a red cape, who has his own monologue about identity, duty and the futility of relationships. Jermaine Maurice Spivey is a beautiful talent with a dynamic and dramatic humour. The orchestrated battle of the sexes in this creation is futuristic, epic movie-ish and awe-inspiring. The unbelievable poses held by the dancers and their slow, controlled movements are about the images they leave behind.

Sandwiched between these artistic rarities are two shorter pieces, The Other You — puppet and puppetmaster or self and reflection of self, performed by look-alike dancers Eric Beauchesne and Jiří Pokorný – and Das Glashaus, an ominous vignette that features Yannick Matthon and Cindy Salgado creeping eerily through dark space. Stark lighting and black costumes leave only the dancers’ bare arms and faces showing, so that they are mere shadows in contortion under the sound of falling glass, deep reverberating pulsing and metallic scratches. These two works are somewhat disturbing. Not beautiful dance, but rather bodies as dramatic instruments.

NOTE: Crystal Pite and her performing arts company Kidd Pivot, in residence in Frankfurt, Germany since January 2010, will open the 2012-2013 dance season at the National Arts Centre in September with the acclaimed full-length theatrical dance work, The Tempest Replica (2011), based on Shakespearean motifs. This will be its Canadian premiere.

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