An Out Innerspace Dance Theatre production. At the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre on Wednesday, October 20. Continues October 21 to 23
If there’s one thing Out Innerspace Dance Theatre is good at, it’s creating an otherworldly atmosphere—or would that be inner-worldly? Many of the striking images in its first full-length piece, Vessel, bring to mind molecular movements and the irrational world of the subconscious. But the show also has the shapelessness associated with those realms.
Bodies skitter crablike across the floor; men lift women who are like stiff dolls; dancers jerk and slump like zombies. All the while, James Proudfoot’s lighting adds to the fever dream, with static and watery imagery closing in on and covering the dancers, or immersing them in magnified petri-dish life. Jeff Younger’s score is a bizarre soundscape of blurps, rolling waves, industrial noise, and echoey sound, and Heather Martin’s gauzy yet minimalistic costumes give it all an ethereal chill.
The Out Innerspace choreographic team of Tiffany Tregarthen and David Raymond has spent a lot of time in Europe honing its craft, and it’s paid off in the duo’s ability to coolly—and seamlessly—meld multimedia into edgy new work. Both are extremely charismatic performers, and for Vessel, the pair shares the stage with an equally talented bunch of contemporary talents: Karissa Barry, Alison Denham, and Tanner Plecas.
Together, they create many stunning images that stay with you long after the show. At the beginning, the performers are slowly enveloped in white light; they look like cells, huddling together at first, then separating and folding and unfolding their legs as they come to life. Later, the dancers undulate in silhouette against rolling waves, becoming a single, multi-limbed organism. And Tregarthen and Raymond share a sensual duet in which they seem literally conjoined, her hand fusing to his chest or his arm being magnetized softly to her face.
At certain times, the duo is able to get at something primal here; at others, it’s accessing something molecular yet cosmic. If only there were more structure to these experiments—more of an arc for the audience to follow and the dancers to build toward—the work could become more than a series of arresting images and become something deeper.
Still, those images are strong enough to ensure the troupe has successfully launched itself into the local dance scene—and to transport its audience to a haunting realm of innerspace.