Fringe Review: “Collision” a mesmerizing, revitalizing solo dance piece


Photo Credit: David Wong

Blackout. A solo voice rings out, slowly filling the space with a capella song, eventually echoing, layering over and back onto itself creating harmonies and discords— and I am in

Collision” is Fringe at its best: effective, affective, clean and complete. Prepare to go on a journey, be mesmerized, and come out refreshed and inspired. 

Collision” is a solo dance piece, and it is slow — I say this both as a warning and a compliment. This piece takes its time to let us in, allowing its audience to relax, settle in and eventually find its own way—no matter what kind of day we’ve each had—towards understanding and appreciating, perhaps even matching, its ebb and flow.

The show is the first to be presented by Alive and Running, a new dance collective, and was created and choreographed by Tiera Joly Pavelich in collaboration with, and performed by, Gabriela Guerra Woo. The piece illustrates a dancer’s journey from a debilitating concussion to recovery. The story is told in distinct chapters, and each section is disorienting in its own creative way, and pushes our attention span beyond its contemporary fast-paced expectations, teaching us to enjoy the present state. Your mind will wander—if it doesn’t wander, I sort of think you’re doing it wrong—and come in and out of watching, and feeling, Gabriela Guerra Woo move through the space. 

Photo Credit: David Wong

Although I came in knowing what inspired this creation, this show needed no backstory, context or setting, and allows us to make our own links and, in a way, tell our own version of this story. The lighting is simple and beautifully clever; an element that could nearly stand alone as a performance piece in and of itself. As we become familiar with the language of the show, we learn to appreciate the simple beauty of what we are being presented. 

Gabriela Guerra Woo is an incredible dancer, and the show introduces her to us in stages. As it begins, we discover her as a moving shape we can barely make out through partial darkness. Step by step, as the lighting shifts and the choreography evolves, we are invited to become more familiar with her. This slow introduction allows us to be able to take in the choreography as a whole, and the dancer as an anonymous moving, and light-wielding, form. Then, by the time we get to really see her face, we meet a brand new person than the one we thought we knew: a performer that is beautifully charismatic, curious about her audience, playful and undeniably sweet. Her own particular brand of presence, along with lively, expectation-defying choreography, invites us to lean into her journey, and lends the entire piece a confidence that never feels pretentious or boastful. 

It is such a joy to watch a performer who wants to be seen, but isn’t showing off. That plays with us, but allows us to come as we are. “Collision” invites us to relax into ourselves, and to come towards it. This show feels like a Fringe palate cleanser, which left me revitalized and ready for more art. If you are interested in, simply put, spending some time watching a body move brilliantly across a stage, and especially if you are craving clean, unadorned simplicity (in the best way,) I highly suggest buying a ticket to come enjoy “Collision”’s particular magic. 

Alive and Running presents “Collision”
at the 29th St-Ambroise Montreal Fringe Festival

Performances: June 6 – June 16, 2019
Venue: 05 – Studio Jean-Valcourt du Conservatoire
4750 Henri-Julien Montréal, H2T 2C8
Admission: $8-12
Box Office:
514.849.FEST (3378)

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