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Physical Therapy Cabaret Review by Cobra Collins

I wasn't sure what to expect from the 12th annual Physical Therapy Cabaret, in fact upon being invited to watch and review the evening, I realized that I wasn’t even particularly clear on what a Cabaret was.

“Cabaret (English: /kæbəˈreɪ/) is a form of entertainment featuring music, song, dance, recitation, or drama. It is mainly distinguished by the performance venue, which might be a pub, a restaurant or a nightclub with a stage for performances.”

With a diverse lineup of performers, all of whom seemed set on pushing boundaries, the evening itself, would not be so easy to define. Throughout the hour an half long event the audience was invited to take a personal journey into each performer's world. Whether it was through dance, performance, monologue or music, each artist managed to immerse us in their own unique story or experience. For myself as a spoken word artist, it was amazing to see how clearly and emotionally these moments could be translated through movement alone.

Jason Galeos beautiful opening piece invoked the feeling one gets when they toss a coin into a fountain; a moment of hope, followed by the realization that you’ve given away something tangible for a wish that, more than likely, won’t be granted. Kaja Irwin's physical transformation into an elderly woman for “Vroom” was striking, but it was her movements and way of portraying the lose of voice and autonomy that really captured my attention, a theme I also felt was prevalent in Su-Lin Tseng’s “Ruined Pages”. Both works painted haunting portrayals of womanhood, creating a frantic energy  that resonated throughout the space well after their respective performances ended. Also leaving behind something on stage, but perhaps more literally, was Terrance Houle with his short excerpt from “GHOSTDAYS”, Houle used his body and a theremin to conjure an audience of spirits to accompany the live audience already present in DJD Community Living Room.

Haunting and transformative, could very well have been the themes of this years Physical Therapy Cabaret. Karissa Barry used the multiple levels of the stunning DJD space beautifully with her piece “Shed” and Brian Solomon literally shed his clothing and in a way, sense of humanity, in his engaging performance “Thunderbird’s Transformation”. All of the artists laid themselves bare in one way or another, but it was Makambe K Simamba's profound vulnerability in “The Apartment” that, in my opinion, stole the show. My notes on the piece are short, one from the beginning stating “Pure Joy” and one from the end “Total Heartbreak”. Simamba's performance painted the reality of a woman’s, more specifically, a woman of colour’s daily existence in a way that had me wanting to pick her up from the ground and take her back home, where she would be safe. Except I didn't, nobody did.

The night ended on a lighter note with Allison Zwozdesky’s immersive performance on travel. A great display of movement and character building, I felt like the whole audience got to take a little vacation.

Across the board Fluid Festival's Physical Therapy Cabaret, was just that, therapeutic. With hosts that kept us laughing and artists that kept us guessing, it was an evening not to be missed.

Cobra Collins is a Calgary based Metis poet of significant height. She was the captain and coach of Calgary’s 2016 Slam team, representing our city on a national level at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word and is a member of Calgary’s Inkspot Spoken Word Collective, home of Calgary's official poetry Slam. Cobra has participated in several Nationwide Spoken Word festivals, as well as collaborated with artists of different backgrounds for dance (Fluid Movements Arts Festival) and performance festivals (IKG 1 ! Live Performance Festival). Cobra was also honoured to be shortlisted as a nominee for Calgary's 2017 poet laureate.