A Company 605 production, presented by the Dance Centre and the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival. At the Scotiabank Dance Centre on Monday, January 21. Continues until January 29
On one level, Company 605’s new Loop, Lull is like an elaborate game of tag, where a touch or a word sets off ever more complex, circling patterns of movement. On another, it’s a chance for the audience to both watch the show and witness its creation at the same time.
The Vancouver troupe heightens the effect by seating viewers in the round, in a loop of chairs around the edges of the white Faris Family Studio floor.
On one side of the stage is a sound board where the five performers can activate different looping tracks; on the other is a controller where they can trigger the lights. And at either end is a bench where they can rest, sip water, and take respite from the pummelling exercise.
What happens at centre stage falls somewhere between a dance conversation and an ever-evolving system. Dancers gently call out cues—“Time!” “Travelling!”—that shift the patterns of lunging, holding, wrapping, and turning each other around. At the same time, the performers comment on the actions. (“I don't want to push you too hard,” dancer Bynh Ho tells his partner each time he circles in to shove her shoulders, propelling her body backward.)
Choreographers Josh Martin and Lisa Gelley have orchestrated a challenging game. The repetitions build on and unravel what’s come before. As the dancers accept new layers of difficulty it becomes impossible to carry out the looping tasks, so that they sometimes miss their cues and exert themselves beyond exhaustion. Sitting close to them, we can see them sweat, watch them try to learn and adapt, and notice them smile when they bump into someone or struggle to add yet another revision to the pattern.
The effect is often hypnotic. At some moments it feels, not surprisingly, like an extended studio exercise. At its best, its energy builds into a dizzying, dazzling swirl of bodies, lights, and sound.
Loop, Lull is a rare behind-the-scenes look into the quick learning and camaraderie that exist in dance, but it also carries metaphors about our larger community and how we adapt to one another.
Amid all this, the strong ensemble of dancers—Ho, Laura Avery, Francesca Frewer, Jessica Wilkie, and Sophia Wolfe—is committed and resilient in the face of the difficult tasks.
This is not dance that hides behind polished façades, it lays the process and its people bare.