Directed and choreographed by Daniele Desnoyers and produced by Carré des Lombes, “Unfold | 7 Perspectives” is an hour long dance performance presented in the cavernous space of Édifice Wilder – Espace danse Studio-Théâtre des Grands Ballets as part of the 13th Festival TransAmériques.
As the title implies, there are seven dancers onstage for the majority of the performance – at times, one, two, or six will stand on the sidelines and watch. Regardless, they remain part of the performance – their bodies delicately attuned with the music and rhythms created by Ben Shemie along with Benoit Chaignon, sound engineer. With lighting direction by Hubert Leduc-Villeneuve, “Unfold | 7 Perspectives” slowly unravels itself into a powerful exploration of humanity and identity.
The dancers are moving before the audience is settled, even before the house lights have come down. The stage is still dark. It’s hard to see them, but they’re there – crawling, slowly, along two parallel rectangular raised platforms, a foot off the ground with a foot of space between them. The audience is beginning to notice and quiets down, attentive, as the lights come down too.
A small screen welcomes the audience, ticker tape style, and advises: “Mind the gap”. From here the show kicks into gear, though it starts slow. The dancers continue to parade down the two platforms arranged like catwalks, one by one, sometimes coming into contact but mostly in their own worlds. Their movements are incredibly restrained, slug-like, with goopy precision. The lighting is very dim, one can only make out their faces when they pose, briefly, on the ends of the platforms right before the audience. Then they leave – stage right or left, or behind the catwalks, barely visible. But their shapes are still there, and we see them take off their shirts, put on a pair of pants, put on a dress, take off a skirt. With seven dancers it’s hard to keep track and i’m surprised by the appearance of a dancer’s head, popping out from underneath the catwalks. The music has been as slow as the movement, a low, subtle reverberation with occasional skids of rhythm kicking in for a moment before disappearing as quickly as the dancers. An atmosphere is struck, one of intense claustrophobia, of an echo chamber. Of a bomb about to go off.
Fifteen minutes in and the music starts to pick up, along with my heartbeat. Suddenly the bass is so loud the whole theatre is rumbling and the dancers are running and sliding down the catwalks, as if cut loose. The central tension of the piece emerges – tension itself – and its unfurling into release, tension, release. The titular seven perspectives begin to unfold in front of us. Where before each was indistinct, unremarkable in appearance, suddenly each now has a signature colour and style designed by Angelo Barsetti. Something about being unrestrained gives them life.
Now the dancers are pulling the catwalks apart, rearranging the eight smaller platforms into a square. The lighting grid twenty feet above them is being pulled up higher and higher, revealing the enormity of the space they are now filling with their bodies. The rhythms continue to build into crescendos before devolving into stutters just as quickly, matching the dancers. They are squirming around each other, movements becoming longer and more languid, as if they are trying to escape their own bodies.
The platforms are pushed entirely to the sides and the dancers occupy the center, swirling around each other, taking cues from one another as to how to move and then running with it. It’s a dance of identity, of trying things on, learning from one another, and returning to a more neutral place. “Mind the gap” refers to this space where we can get lost, a place without boundaries but where we have room to unfold and develop our perspective. Kudos to the whole team for an enervating show, and to the dancers especially for sharing such a powerful performance.
The 13th Annual Festival TransAmériques presents
UNFOLD | 7 PERSPECTIVES
May 30 + 31 + June 1 @ 7pm
Duration: 1 h 20 m
Édifice Wilder – Espace danse
1435 Rue de Bleury
514 844 3822 / 1 866 984 3822