I walk into Dancers' Studio West and find Nicole Mion sitting in the lobby, a smile on her face.
"It's my first time sitting down all day," she says.
No wonder. Mion is the Artistic Director of Springboard Performance and Curator of the Fluid Festival, which opened this week. As if that wasn't enough, Springboard also launched containR in Sunnyside last weekend, right after Mion returned from a Western Canada tour of Quiver | His and Hers, the show I'm here to see. She deserves to get off her feet.
Quiver is a pair of solos, starting with His. The stage is lined with electric fans, each covered in plastic. So is James Gnam, wrapped in a clear plastic poncho. Lit from behind with a yellow spotlight, the effect is eerie: a dark figure covered in ectoplasm. An alien. A ghost.
Throughout the performance, Gnam continues to transform. He lopes across the floor like a jungle cat, huddles into his poncho/hoodie like a street kid, his movements precise, contained, bristling with energy. He's waiting to explode.
When, finally, the hood comes down and we see him fully-lit, he's soaked, as if the rainstorm was inside the plastic, invisible; and he's vulnerable. He reaches out his hands and we see that he's not an alien, a ghost, a panther... just a man.
Then - at last - a fan is unleashed. Hers begins with Justine Chambers in communion with a pedestal fan, rotating in parallel to it, back and forth. She's in a hoodie, hidden like Gnam was - which turns out to be a smart move. It would be easy to be mesmerized by Chambers' movements because, damn, she can move. But it's not all about her. The stage is full of partners.
One by one, the plastic comes off, the fan turns on, and inanimate plastic comes to life, dancing in the air like jellyfish. Plastic bags are fickle dance partners, apt to dart and tangle when they catch the wrong gust of air, but Chambers keeps them in line, taking the dance off the ground and becoming a puppeteer of the air.
When, at last, all the fans are still, the hood comes down. Chambers reaches up into a spotlight, into the air that was - just moments ago - so alive and playful, reaching into stillness.
Throughout all of this, Tariq - a Juno-nominated songwriter and member of Brasstronaut - has been working musical magic in a dark corner, animating the space with haunting echoes, pushing wind through the bellows of an accordion, teasing music from an electric fan.
A quiver is a container for arrows, bolts or darts. To quiver is to tremble or shake with a slight rapid motion. Quiver is something else entirely; something new.
Mark Hopkins is a Calgary-based theatre artist, community-builder and political hobbyist, and he thinks that We Should Know Each Other. www.wskeo.com