Andrea Nann With Sarah Chase
A Dreamwalker Dance Company and Sarah Chase Dance Projects copresentation. At the Shadbolt Centre for the Arts on Saturday, May 19. No remaining performances
Duo charms with dreams and stories
It's hard to imagine two dances more different than Andrea Nann's Shostakovich/Notes in Silence and Sarah Chase's A Certain Braided History. One's clean and sleek; the other's messy and low-tech. One's dreamy and abstract; the other's very much rooted in memories of the flesh. One relies on nonlinear imagery; the other's all about narrative.
And yet these two seemingly incompatible pieces added up to an entirely satisfying evening of dance: rich, provocative, witty, and winning.
I have to admit, though, that I have no idea what Nann's Shostakovich/Notes in Silence was about. It unrolled as a series of striking images, opening with three black-clad assistants flipping long rectangles of white silk across the Shadbolt Centre's floor. Projected from above, filmmaker Peter Mettler's scenes of the night sky turned these sheets into a moonlit landscape; then Nann materialized, tucked herself into their folds, and appeared to fall asleep.
Clearly, we were in dreamtime, especially as what followed made no literal sense: an oddly benign-looking Joseph Stalin made an appearance on the rear screen, followed by grainy, almost indecipherable images of men and rubble. Meanwhile, Nann rose and moved through a series of poses that flowed effortlessly into one another–and yet, despite her ease, her gestures conveyed a sense of endurance, tribulation, and loss. This enigmatic sequence ended with footage of the northern lights and the eloquent sorrow of the third movement of Dmitri Shostakovich's Piano Trio No. 2 in E Minor.
Perhaps this was a war elegy, perhaps just a string of restrained but gorgeous pictures. Its effect, however, was profound.
A Certain Braided History, by contrast, was almost relentlessly trivial–and no less enjoyable for that. Equipped with wireless microphones and a ghetto blaster playing Seu Jorge, Chase and Nann told anecdotes from their long friendship while moving in sync–or mostly in sync, at any rate. Sometimes they diverged, one lying on the bare stage while the other towered over her; and sometimes the stories would unravel, too, with Nann butting in to correct Chase's memories. The tales toggled between the banal and the poignant: first crushes, car crashes, dance classes, a brother's nervous breakdown. Similarly, the movement drew from commonplace sources, including ballet training, tai chi, and the ecstatic frugging of teens at a David Bowie concert. But the cumulative effect of this everyday intimacy was complex and warm, especially in contrast to the cerebral beauty of the opening piece.