This year's Spark opened on Tuesday! The collaborative project-process (to use Nicole Mion's phrase from the artist talk that followed the performance) pairs artists from different disciplines – dancers with visual artists, visual artists with theatre artists, noise artists with artists whose work breaks pretty much all disciplinary borders. Called a “creative blind date” by co-curator Kristopher Kelly, artists meet, are paired up by Kelly and co-curator Jessica McCarrell, and have two weeks to create a 10-minute performance.

I was involved as a co-curator and performer last year (full disclosure), and it was extremely exciting to see the great work that was create this year. Chris Mandseth and Jamie 'Tea' Tognazzini started off with a hilarious exploration of 'space' inspired by their pep talk – and pay attention to what you're hearing as well as on-screen instructions so you can participate fully. I didn't read them and regretted it.

Next, Jennifer Akkermans and Veronica Benz presented a dance with some of Akkermans' distinctive fibre work, and the blending of Benz' dance with the limitations imposed by Akkermas' work were really not limitations – for me, like the limitations in the structure of the “blind dates,” those limits were very creatively forceful.

Third, Lisa Benshop and Christopher Duthie explored paradolia – finding significant images in things like clouds – in a fascinating performance that left me finding significant images in the interactions between the two performers, kind of extrapolating on what they were doing with slides and a whiteboard.

Fourth, Joshua Fraser and Léda Davis did a hilarious performance that blended dance and noise in a totally inspirational way – the dance made the noise. And the situation that was set up to require the dance (and make the noise) was tremendously funny and had everyone rolling in the aisles. I also loved the evidence of previous encounters on the stage.

Fifth, Shara Rosko and Naomi Brand did a visually striking performance – it reminded me a lot of Last Year at Marienbad in how understated it was and its style, and its strong use of light and dark.

Finally, Khan Barrera and Serenella Arguetta created a video and dance, where the video was inspired by the dancers and the dance was inspired by the video and, as Argueta explained during the artist talk, the strangeness of seeing their skin and bodies in the video.

All of the works were extremely strong and interesting and there was a huge variety in the ideas the artists worked with and the tones of the different pieces, so make sure you check out the second performance, tonight at 8pm at the Big Secret Theatre! Get tickets: http://www.springboardperformance.com/fluid-festival-2011/tickets

Posted by Kathryn Blair

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