Physical Therapy Cabaret

On October 17th I had the pleasure of watching the FLUID festival’s Physical Therapy Cabaret.  There were so many wonderful performances that I couldn’t possibly talk about each one with the detail that it deserves. But I’ll attempt to touch on everything and provide a general feel for the evening, the production as a whole, and a few notable moments of the night’s festivities. For anyone who had never been inside of the Auburn Saloon, you have to picture combining an upscale pub, with a small jungle, with your room circa age 5. Hopefully this will give you the sensation of dim, exciting, cosiness that the Physical Therapy Cabaret was set in. The lighting in the saloon itself is warm. The lighting of the stage itself was simple, based off of a very minimal selection of yellow or orange bulbs. Still, with what little tools that the venue had to its disposal, the lighting score appeared very competent and easily achieved the appropriate levels of exposure that every piece needed.

The show as a whole toed the line between theatre and open mic. It was this combination of the choreographed with the casual that suited the works to their setting. Every piece acknowledged the limitations and advantaged of their setting in some way, whether it be by verbally engaging the audience, or simply designing the piece so that it took up very little space.

Individual performances ranged from the skilled tap dancing of Danny Nielsen, to the queer storytelling techniques of Jamie Tognazzini.

In between the audience was graced with being able to witness Helen Husak performing her own piece, Bloom. Husak’s piece was brought to life through costume. This was one of those rare pieces where the performer is able to embrace a prop as another character within the piece.

Of course what compilation of works would be complete without a stilt walker? Allara Gooliaff graced the evening with her presence, her very large presence. Her piece, All Grow’d Up, is exactly what it promises to be. Using African inspired music (and looking much like a giraffe herself) Gooliaff wanders the saloon before taking her place on stage and performing. Throughout the piece she resembled a child. Smiling, or loosing face whenever it suited her. At the end, keeping that same, glorious, childlikeness, she introduced her mother. Gooliaff’s piece was the feel-good number of the evening.

In a very different performance, Neah Kalcounis used storytelling, dance and costume to tell the story of her relationship with her grandmother in Ifegenia’s Dance. Kalcounis’ honesty, mixed with comedy, and dance was truly convincing. Her “convoluted fabric mess” (post-modern tutu) deteriorated before us (as did this blogger’s composure). The image, in conjunction with the story, was stunning and incredibly poignant.

At the risk of rambling I need to mention that the remaining artists Miku Tsuchiya, Mark Hopkins and Veronica Benz were also a profound pleasure to watch.

In all, the evening was definitely memorable. I suggest that everyone take advantage of the remainder of the shows within the festival and enjoy the art that Calgary is offering.

Happy “arting”

Shelby J.