Sometimes at this ending-time of year I long for a break in a bigger city. You know, the kind of place where you can wander through a bustling downtown and stumble onto something surprising. Imagine, out of the corner of your eye you see a sign advertising a “Place with a soul in the heart of the city” and discover it is filled with dancing monkeys? 

Thank you Fluid Festival. 

This particular autumn day (October 15) was not only the first day of the Fluid Movement Arts Festival, but also the first time Fluid has teamed up with the Pro Arts Society. And consequently, the first time a Fluid show has been staged at the historic Cathedral Church on 7th and 1st Street SE.

Walking into the Cathedral on a cold and rainy Wednesday noon-hour, with its scent of old wood and long blown out candles, reminded me of being in an older city…a warmer city (Sure, the free coffee helped). But so did finding the perfect pew in the venerable venue…the original, sandstone containR.

But with Dancing Monkeys and flying buttresses…who knew?

Things that shouldn’t go together…do. 

It was the whole compare and contrast element hat really underscored my enjoyment of “We Must Collide”. Exploring the idea of collision and connection, love and desire, at the foot of an altar.

Dancing Monkey Laboratories continue the work with their “structural triangle” performing arts experience. That is: equal amounts of music, dance and text/narrative. It’s a compelling equation…and in this case sort of in-situ Sacred Geometry.  

After all, Churches were built with the audience (and the Divine) in mind. And (bonus!) the acoustics are great. As the first somber chords of the piano echoed through the space, I entered the structural triangle (naturally) through the music.

Dancing Monkey Laboratories’ We Must Collide asks, “How do we feel, emotionally and physically, when we are un-seen?”

 “I am here”, the four dancers chant, their voices echoing through the church. And then the movement began, dancers afraid and alone, coming together and moving apart. 

Exploring this idea…of collision and connection, together and alone-ness at the front of a century old church provided a fourth element, historic perspective. At this moment in history (and certainly with this piece of work) we think of ourselves as technologically linked but, increasingly, disconnected. That human connection has been replaced with something faceless and digital. And as a result, we have never felt disconnection before. 

But what of the woman sitting in this well worn pew, a hundred years ago? No cell phones or phablets or texting. Was she any more connected then that I was now?  Newly “personed” under the law perhaps…but any less lonely? Would she have had a “rational life”? and would that have been void of connection and love? 

Given this context, the opening chanting “I am here” took on a sense of the liturgical.

“We Must Collide” explores the physics of connection (love+desire+rational life= impossible equation) through dance, text and music. As co founder Mike Czuba commented during the excellent question and answer after the show,  ‘there is something for everyone here’. You are drawn in through whatever artist modality most resonates with you: text or music or dance. 

We had collided then, on this Wednesday in October, the First day of Fluid, for various reasons. Some of my fellow attendees clearly wanted out of the cold, some closed their eyes as the music swept through, and other sat upright in their pews, completely absorbed by the dancers…All of us connected by the idea of disconnection.

And that it’s for me, the beauty of the disconnect that is Calgary. Fluid Festival and finance, religion and art, movement and contemplation. Exploring love and desire inside the Cathedral on a rainy lunch hour.

It’s these kind of unexpected contrasts that make me love this city. Even more. 

Kerrie Penney

  Kerrie Penney is an award winning writer/director/content creator with oodles of experience writing & realizing lyrical, informative & moving stories across many media. Life is short, great stories matter. 

Kerrie Penney is an award winning writer/director/content creator with oodles of experience writing & realizing lyrical, informative & moving stories across many media. Life is short, great stories matter.