Crystal Pite and her company Kidd Pivot move at the speed of light. On stage and off, she is one of the most prolific artists I know. I have been working to bring her to Calgary for the past 3 years. Luckily the planets have all aligned for Crystal and her company to return to the Fluid Festival for 2012. She was a part of the Fluid Festival in our second year of existence and two years ago Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet performed at the Fluid Festival with a mixed bill program including one of Crystal's works - a work that they refer to as the 'jewel' in the Cedar Lake repertoire. It's nice to have the Kidd Pivot back in Calgary at the height of the company's overwhelming power and vibrancy.
When you watch a dance work by Crystal Pite, the love is palpable. The love of the craft, the love of movement, the love and connection between the dancers, the connection of dancers with the audience, and the shared love for the moment.
Let's celebrate this great Canadian artist - and give her reasons to stay in Canada. Europe keeps enticing her with opportunities… but thankfully she continues to hold firmly to her Canadian roots while navigating contemporary dance superstardom. (Is there such thing?)
Artistic Director for The Fluid Movement Festival
Kidd Pivot’s work The Tempest Replica is filled with delicious movement and intelligent excavation of the unknown through timeless storytelling. The piece is divided in two parts. The first half captures Shakespeare’s The Tempest integrating tableau and shadow play. The second half is pure dance and more abstractly deals with underlying themes of the story. The two parts inform one another, and inextricably combined in a way that only Pite could realize. This is a structure she played with in her past work Dark Matters, which she re-navigates in The Tempest Replica.
Choreographer Crystal Pite knows how to direct our eye to what she wants us to see; and she has a way of making her work personal without alienating the viewer, which is very difficult to accomplish. Pite understands that tension and ease must exist in the relationship of theatrical elements in order to sustain a work over time.
Dancer Eric Beaushesne, who has danced with Crystal Pite for ten years, has a lot to say about dancing in her work. "I was thinking why do I love her work and her dancing so much? At one point I realized there is a sense of being danced. When I watch her, it feels that it is happening to her, more than she is doing it. For her, of course, it is an illusion because she is mastering this technique, but there is a spirit behind that, to let it happen to you." Dancers and non-dancers can appreciate this skill because we are ultimately striving for this balance in life: to be in control, yet simultaneously feel free. When you see someone master this, it leaves a lasting impression.
Pite's ability to connect with an audience only starts here. In The Tempest Replica she has taken classic subject matter and reinvented their relevancy through dance. We are talking big timeless questions. Beaushesne explains, "You never know if her style informs her subject matter, or the subject matter informs her style. She comes from a background where improvisation is important and the idea of manipulation is important, and then she brings in the idea of shadow and unknown forces outside ourselves, which is a perfect image to illustrate that."
When Beaushesne speaks of manipulation, he is talking about a particular style of movement exploration. For example, one dancer may manipulate the body part of another to make him move, or a dancer may push his own leg with his hand in order to step forward. Many dance artists of different dance genres have used this exploration for a long time. Pite has managed to make it a technique while maintaining the spontaneity of an improvisation. This is what creates the illusion Beaushesne was speaking of and the very thing we connect to as an audience: simultaneous control and freedom.
So what makes The Tempest Replica bring the entire audience to their feet? The dancing? Yes. You cannot deny the skill and the spirit of these amazing people on stage and Pite's natural, yet precise and other worldly movement. And you cannot deny Pite's intelligent dance making. The Tempest Replica is a complete package. You laugh, you cry, you are wowed, and you think about yourself and the world around you a little differently. All of this makes the work unforgettable, bringing you to your feet...twice.