Dancing on the Edge 2012’s first mixed program showcases Vancouver's diverse dance scene
Dancing on the Edge presentation. At the Firehall Arts Centre on Saturday, July 7. No remaining performances
I thought the dress looked familiar: The Karolina Sisters is an expansion of a work that the Light Box company’s Lina Fitzner and Caroline Liffmann presented as part of Dances for a Small Stage back in February. Fitzner’s aubergine-toned gown was a highlight then, and it was stunning last weekend as well.And the dance? Well, it had its moments.
The Karolina Sisters finds Liffmann and Fitzner exploring what could be either a complex sibling relationship or butch-femme archetypes as played out in a same-sex affair. I’m leaning toward the latter: although the first part of the piece is abstract, it found the blond and lissome Fitzner repeatedly swooning into the arms of the dark and sturdy Liffmann. Read into that what you will—and for what it’s worth, it’s also possible that the two dancers represent different aspects of the same psyche. Excessively literal, this piece is not.
What, for instance, is one to make of the dollhouse prop, lit from within by a brilliant white light or, alternately, glowing cathode-ray blue? Its deployment seemed almost random—and occasionally comical, as when Liffmann manipulated it from beneath Fitzner’s capacious skirt.
Fitzner, it should be mentioned, was standing on a half-metre-high box at the time, with her gown extending to the floor. In repose, this gave her the lines of a long-legged ’40s actress, but the dress—and the dancer—really came to life when she stepped down and settled, in a swirl of silk, to the floor. Luxurious feather bed, threatening ocean swell, insect chrysalis: Fitzner’s costume was a fast-morphing and eerily animate partner, fully embodying the program notes’ promise of “a suspended, dream-like world”.
The third member of Light Box, composer Lee Hutzulak, also delivered in that regard, his score ranging from subtly unhinged clarinet jazz to tuneful guitar and keyboard soundscapes given a cracked and otherworldly patina by electronic processing.
The dark and evocative mood of The Karolina Sisters continued in Vanessa Goodman’s peeling away like a bubble in wallpaper, set on Contingency Plan dancers Michael Kong, Erika Mitsuhashi, Jane Osborne, and Bevin Poole, and to the music of Swans, A Silver Mt. Zion, and Silk Saw.
Goodman’s title suggests a process of reduction, but instead the piece builds in complexity and momentum, rising out of half-lit vignettes (a lone woman fighting unseen forces; two dancers scooting across the floor on some sort of wheeled contraption) before becoming a quartet of considerable complexity.
Again, the work’s meaning was hard to decipher. Peeling away like a bubble in wallpaper reputedly draws on “the resonance of memories”, but these echoes from the subconscious are rarely, if ever, made fully available to viewers. On an abstract level, though, the dance was powerful, with the androgynous Poole the standout in a strong cast.
Dancing on the Edge 2012’s first mixed program won’t prove the most memorable event on the festival’s schedule, but its two components effectively showcased the depth and diversity of the local dance scene.