We’re in the twilight of Matthew Jocelyn’s time at Canadian Stage, a near- decade of unprecedented multi-disciplinarity. We’ve had dance, we’ve had opera, and yes, theatre that combines disciplines. We’ve had several offerings from Crystal Pite, from Robert Lepage, and now another brilliant mix tonight. As Jocelyn approaches the end of his tenure he’s going out with a bang.
Triptyque is a three part performance—really three different works – created in the interface between dance and circus.
I can’t recommend it highly enough. See it if at all possible.
The 7 Fingers (7 doigts de la main) circus troupe from Québec collaborated with three different choreographers, giving us three different works that sit in that ambiguous place that’s neither dance nor circus.
One of the things I love best is to be mystified, to be lost in something that I can’t figure out. Whether I’m listening to a Beethoven symphony or a science fiction filmscore, the conventions usually serve to comfortably tell us where we’re going. The coded moments in works of recognizable genres let us relax a bit, pointing us towards predictable outcomes. But what if you don’t know where you are? Then you’re really in a magical place.
Here’s the published description of the three works on the program:
1. Anne et Samuel – Marie Chouinard (The Garden of Earthly Delights) Following in the footsteps of Chouinard’s signature work bODY_rEMIX/gOLDBERG_vARIATIONS, this duet between a dancer and hand balancer examines the relationship between gravity and moving bodies with awe-inspiring effect.
2. Variations 9.81 – Victor Quijada (Quebec) A quintet of virtuoso hand balancers search for absolute control of gravity, testing the relationship between stillness and movement.
3. Nocturnes – Marcos Morau (Spain) Subtly mixing circus and dance, the mesmerizing Nocturnes lures us into the space between wake and dreams where eight artists try to break free of their physical constraint.
Quijada’s quintet is perhaps the most gentle of the three, a piece that had me thinking of the word “virtuoso” throughout. We watched different groupings, always poised when on their hands but –irony- sometimes unsure on their feet. What we might think of as upside down is the place of calm repose for much of this piece. In the dance continuum between drama / story telling on the one hand, and dance as pure dance on the other, Quijada has us very firmly at the latter end of the spectrum. It’s beautiful movement for the sake of beautiful movement. Charming as this one was, for me it made the least impact, while the other two were overwhelmingly powerful.
Chouinard’s opener takes us into a realm I’d call disability drag, as we watch two phenomenally gifted artists moving in ways that seem to be or are actually compromised. At the opening Samuel enters using crutches, while Anne is suspended on and in ropes, resembling a kind of bondage. She is released by him almost inadvertently, as she comes down to the ground, only to join him on her own crutches. Speaking as someone confronting my own growing decrepitude, there’s a universal struggle underlying this piece, as they fight gravity, at times climbing onto one another –again making me think of BDSM power struggles—and briefly achieving freedom from their crutches, before sinking back down. This is a piece of great tenderness, wonderfully beautiful at times.
Morau’s Nocturnes take us to the most natural place to explore the night, namely bed. While this epic work includes the entire troupe, we begin with one person alone in their bed, that site of maximum vulnerability. In time we are looking up at wonderfully original assemblies of rope above the bed, ridden by multiple aerialists. Can you relate to my devout wish: that circus discover something meaningful and even representational, beyond just beautiful balletic moves in the air? In this piece we’re truly experiencing drama, something profound and symbolic.
Morau achieves this, anchoring his aerial explorations around the bed. All the movements seem profoundly psychological in this context. We even get moments of delicious surrealism, which I won’t spoil for you. And eventually the bed itself flies.
If you are a dance or circus practitioner, or at least a fan, please find a way to see one of the remaining performances of Triptyque (running until Nov 19, with two performances Saturday) at the Bluma Appel Theatre.
You will be inspired as never before.