Prairie Dance Circuit Review by Jenna Turk
Curious. By Jenna Turk
BE MOVED. BE CURIOUS. BE FLUID. For me, the second part of this year’s Fluid Movement Arts Festival motto was the most accurate in my experience of the Prairie Dance Circuit.
With four different pieces choreographed by artists from Calgary, Edmonton, and Regina for local performers they find particularly inspiring, the programme was diverse and intriguing. Plus, full disclosure as myself a theatremaker, I especially enjoyed the theatricality of the pieces and the sense of play throughout the night.
The first performance, Still. Moving. Land. Acknowledgement., a duet by Fluid Fest Director Nicole Mion created and performed with Troy Emery Twigg set the stage for the evening –or rather unset it. Most of Prairie Dance Circuit is presented on a bare stage with the curtains pulled back to reveal the wings and any and all happenings backstage. This full disclosure space certainly fit the piece, as it focussed on the sharing of personal histories and the airing of acknowledgements. Grounded by two small rocks at center stage, the pair interchanges dance and stories about their grandmothers. A modest piece that invited the night’s cozy audience to get even closer.
Brian Webb’s solo, Portrait, for Tony Olivares journeys through time inspired by three personal stories told by Olivares, jumping from their first meeting in a class at Grant MacEwan in 1991 to the ravaging of his birthplace by civil war to his first discovery of dance. Olivares is a beautiful and charismatic performer, and Webb’s piece truly celebrates the depth of his talents, showcasing his humour and heart. The work is partly bookended by two recordings of the same song, “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face,” one sung by George Michael and one by Johnny Cash. An effective choice reflecting the inner histories we all bear from birth to death and the weight we carry with us.
THIS created by Robin Poitras for Krista Solheim, while an offshoot of a previously built group piece, End of Winter, it was so singularly engaging. Solheim presents as a kind of goat creature in furry pants and knobbed hair ears. This, in itself, is intriguing, but the specificity and steady rhythm of the piece are what pulled the audience in. A natural history lesson delivered through dance. Quirky and impactful, I will remember THIS.
The Prairie Circuit concluded with a second piece by Nicole Mion, SALT, featuring Linnea Swan. A dance about control. Swan nimbly navigates a world of boxes she has self-created with lines of salt on the stage floor, until she can no longer abide them. An exploration of tension and release, this piece seems like a direct reflection of the minds of many women I know –myself included. We long for a release, but know it will be tough as all hell to clean up the mess afterwards.
For an evening of exploration, the Prairie Circuit delivers a full festival experience in a single night. Curious? Be there.