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Triple Bill Review by Mark Kunji Ikeda

Choreographer Kate Stashko, the Good Women Dance Collective, and sound designer Shawn Pinchbeck explored duration in How long can we do this for. The question of discomfort was initially proposed alongside demands of “What is your first pleasure?” As Alida Nyqvist-Schultz was placed into more and more awkward physical positions she maintains her answers of simple pleasures in life; her rigid struggles assured us that she wasn’t in any position to laugh until she cries. This structure of initial proposal followed to excess became the organizing principle of the work. Two women frantically, almost carelessly adorning the third with articles of clothing as the soundscape proposed childlike laughter and the youthful exuberance of excess. As sounds shifted into variants of “more” and “enough” the dynamic repetition of tasks and the assurance that “I could do this forever” brought an interesting balance between intrigue and concern.

Karissa Barry’s Submission to Entropy succeeded in its promise to submit to a gradual decline into disorder. The opening proposition introduced two otherworldly, bird-like creatures who brought us into their own surreal world by discovering and exploring their new surroundings. Their eventual meeting was an energetic high-point that held great fascination and potential as they began to understand the ‘other.’ These two creatures somehow transformed offstage and were replaced by two contemporary dancers. Strong angular movement and disorder reigned: we are left to decide for ourselves how, or if, the existence of the two original characters impacted the dancers. Pulsing lights slowly warmed the space, shifting from otherworldly blue to an understood warm as the contemporary movement phrases shifted away from a curious pairing into two separate dancers who engage in calculated strong physical work.

Kloetzel&co’s It began with watching uses form and content to drive home their unapologetic response to right-wing politicians. What begins as stoic movement score of power poses and political gestures is soon interrupted by what becomes an absurdist confessional monologue of how easy it is to manipulate politicians. Our ‘leader’ is in full command of their score of underlings as we are treated to the full gamut of their power; conducting the hoard in everything from their speech patterns, to shifting their laws of physics. The suggestible mass, clad in business attire and boxer shorts, were run through their paces by their manipulative overlord while - in true villain fashion - explaining their twisted methodology to us. This display was made through multiple routes, getting more and more absurd to the point of including a live saxophonist to underscore the vaudeville nature of this grotesque routine. It seemed to be going beyond the decorum of the length of a triple bill dance piece: we understood the message, now it’s time to end the piece; but that was the point, these political messages continue to be repeated, to thrive. It began with watching proves that dance belongs in political conversations.

Mark Kunji Ikeda creates original performances that combine narrative and dance. His training in dance and theatre has developed a unique methodology combining story, imagination, and choreography that has lead to being named the 2015 Emerging Artist by Calgary Arts Development Authority. He has trained extensively with Denise Clarke of One Yellow Rabbit and Gerry Trentham of lbs/sq”, his fearless political works have included the Japanese Canadian internment (Sansei: The Storyteller) and toxic masculinity (The Golden Penis).

Mark is the Artistic Director of Cloudsway Dance Theatre, an ensemble member of the Dancers’ Studio West, has taught at the University of Calgary, Mount Royal University, and the Rosebud School of the Arts, and served as Artistic Director of MoMo Dance Theatre. His work has been performed across Canada and his one-man show Sansei: The Storyteller continues to tour nationally.