Choreographed and performed by Peter Bingham and Wen Wei Wang. A Dance in Vancouver presentation. At the Scotiabank Dance Centre on Saturday, November 19
Thirst, the brand new duet from Peter Bingham and Wen Wei Wang, is full of tension. The two men, who are big names in the local contemporary dance scene, created this piece as an experiment between supposed opposites: Bingham, the celebrated contact artist and EDAM director, and Wang, the Ballet B.C. veteran.
Bingham and Wang come from starkly different backgrounds, and the artists' movements have their own strengths and weaknesses. Bingham has so much strength and fluidity that he creates the illusion of being able to bend his forearms. Wang, on the other hand, can move his feet like a hummingbird's wings.
However, the tension isn't really between the two men's work as choreographer-composers; it's in their movements as dancers. Except for one accidental clash of arms, the two never touch. They move like two magnets that can only come within a few inches of each other, posing and creating negative space between their bodies.
You expect them to come into contact, to propel themselves off each other, to perform a good old-fashioned duet. Instead, this dance looks like it is performed by two molecules that come close enough to give the illusion of being one.
Thirst is inventive. With their black dress pants, white undershirts and shaved heads, Bingham and Wang sit cross-legged, knees almost touching, and do an elaborate no-contact type of patty-cake. Looping their arms around each other, linking their own hands together, moving faster and faster, the pair tie themselves into a knot.
James Proudfoot's lighting transforms the stage from a water scene to harsher contrasts. It begins as an intricate blue-and-green pattern on the stage and moves toward spotlights that illuminate Bingham and Wang in profile. While Bingham almost stands still, Wang is reclining on the floor, moving his ankles and one of his wrists to each syllable of the lyrics blasting over the speakers.
The score, created by the two choreographers, strengthens the piece. Constantly evolving, it sounds like rain falling on a roof one moment, plucked guitar strings the next, and then shifts to spoken-word poetry that asks questions like "Do you think a tree ever wonders if it is successful as a tree?" I'd put my money on no. But if Bingham and Wang were to ask themselves if they had done a good job in Thirst, well, you'd know the answer to that one.