Dancing on the Edge's This Time explores the endurance of relationships
An adelheid dance projects production, presented by Dancing on the Edge. At Studio T, SFU Woodward's in the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts, on Thursday, July 12. Continues on July 13
Dancers Justine A. Chambers and Yuichiro Inoue have great chemistry. In fact, their seemingly genuine connection is the most captivating aspect of This Time, the hourlong duet they perform at this year’s Dancing on the Edge.
Choreographed by Toronto’s Heidi Strauss, the piece is a response to a 1970 play by Ken Gass. In her program notes, the adelheid dance projects artistic director explains that This Time plays with perspective and questions what it means to “really be there—for each other, for the long haul, or even just for the time we have right now”.
What plays out on-stage clearly isn’t the stuff of love or lust at first sight. Rather than bringing to life the spark that lights up early stages of coupledom, This Time focuses on the affection that endures long after the thrill wears off—which doesn’t necessarily make for interesting choreography.
In the roles of the everyman and everywoman in an every-long-term relationship, Chambers and Inoue are dressed in everyday clothes: he’s in loose, faded jeans and an old, whitish T-shirt; she’s in brown pants, a grey tank top, and an unbuttoned blouse. They’re as comfortable in their clothing as their characters are in their union.
There’s no question Chambers and Inoue are compelling dancers: she’s worked with Desrosiers Dance Theatre and the Beijing Modern Dance Company among many others, while he studied at Stuttgart’s John Cranko Ballet School and has danced for Christopher House, Andrea Nann, and Simone Orlando, to name but a few. But because of This Time’s theme, they don’t have the opportunity to show what they’re physically capable of.
They do, however, successfully convey that even the strongest relationships have moments of doubt and doldrums. At one point she lies lifeless on the floor and he tries repeatedly to lift her up for an embrace, but she’s as limp as a dishrag. Occasionally, they wrestle, push each other away only to pull each other back, or slam their bodies into the floor. And Inoue literally starts to climb a wall.
To emphasize different points of view, Strauss has viewers sitting on opposite sides of the stage—meaning those in the four rows across from the ones I was in would have had completely different sightlines. Rebecca Picherack’s lighting creates lines that divide and entrap the dancers. Sound designer Jeremy Mimnagh’s music is used to cool effect, cutting in and out at times, allowing the audience to hear the dancers catch their breath or their shoes squeak against the floor. There’s video projection too, with images of couples and cities, which adds little to the show.
The most memorable moments were the most subtle. Take the opening scene, where Inoue and Chambers dance with their eyes: sweetly, seductively, adoringly, longingly looking at one another.
It was an endearing segment, to be sure, but I wanted much more of the movement to be just as affecting.