Grand Poney delivers... deeply introspective, textured and heartwrenching performance

As soon as the audience members approach the back entry to Big Secret Theatre, Stephen Thompson's  performance begins.  Inhuman, robotic figures garbed entirely in white suits, hoods and facemasks usher the audience through a series of selection portals, using unexpected sociopolitical questions to separate and segregate groups of people.  The passageway into the theatre becomes a participatory performance journey that will set the tone for two mesmerizing, challenging and intimate physical theatre pieces by contemporary dance artists Stephen Thompson and Grand Poney (Jacques Denis-Poulin).  In what's it worth/spacing advanced conditions, an extraodinarily relevant fear of totalitarianism is being not only addressed, but simulated through audience participation. This initial anxiety quickly transforms into fascination with the beauty of a lithe, freely moving, emoting dancer, whose emergence is highlighted by the previous contrasting images of quarantined, marginalized human shapes.  Post-show, Stephen Thompson told me that he was interested in posing social concerns and questions without offering obvious solutions.  Instead, he explores an optimism which is keenly felt by the audience as an essence of humanity.  In the second performance of the evening, Cible de Dieu, Jaques Denis-Poulin took the common perceptions of art, dance and theatre and shook them apart in a beautifully crafted, shocking and deeply affecting piece which pulled an unsuspecting audience down into the subterranean world of his subconcious struggle.  Denis-Poulin delivers a deeply introspective, textured and heartwrenching performance that connects every audience member to him by a thread of memory, understanding and kinaesthetic reaction. Lauren Côté