Powerful emotion meets the strange and surreal at Dancing on the Edge

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      Edge Three and Edge Four
      At the Firehall Arts Centre on Wednesday, July 10. The Dancing on the Edge festival continues until July 13

      Wednesday night’s mixed programs offered a cross-section of new ways of expression from the Dancing on the Edge festival. Edge Three and Four saw some great choreography and some great emotional highs, proving that the most successful dances are the ones that come from the heart.

      The evening began with the first performance of Edge Four, which will repeat on Friday (July 12). It brought the highlight of the evening, the vivid and raw Off Centre. Dealing with powerful themes of identity and vulnerability, Sujit Vaidya’s beautiful choreography is set to strong percussive rhythms, all produced on-stage by drummer Curtis Andrews.

      Off Centre also features Itai Erdal’s very cool lighting design, which does a great job of shifting the space of the dance to and from various sections of the stage. The dancers, Vaidya and Arun Mathai, have great synchronicity, and create wonderful tension as they mirror each other, drawing closer and then pulling apart, as if they're two parts of a single person desperately trying to figure out who they are.

      Edge Four also features Mahaila Patterson-O’Brien's Mid-light, an intriguing study in movement featuring two very talented dancers. Eowynn and Isak Enquist transition from robotic to graceful and back again. The piece is in two parts, the first in complete silence and in unnaturally bright light, the second in a digital-looking landscape in which their movements become expressive and lively. It's hampered by the purposefully inscrutable interlude, which breaks up the continuity between them a bit, where phrases like "your story takes place a long time ago in a future that has not yet arrived" flash up on a big screen. Still, there’s a neat concept behind the piece.

      Later came the festival’s final performance of Edge Three, which began with a sharp contrast in quality to the rest of the evening. The 30-minute solo Dispositivo Móvel is so surreally unpleasant that surely that must be its purpose, but it still feels like Brazilian artist Paulo Lima simply threw together every idea that could conceivably be a comment on the state of society. The piece features Lima screaming a slam poem over and over, getting naked and pouring dirty water on himself, and eating dry oats in front of an electric fan; it’s all so over-the-top that it’s impossible to take seriously.

      Edge Three found itself again with Eltaconquenofit, created and danced by Alejandra Miranda and Juan Villegas. It’s a quietly tender piece about searching for moments of joy in an unstable and frightening time, and has some really charming moments, such as when Villegas lies still on the floor and then breaks into dance while flat on his back.  

      Edge Three and Four saw greatest success with those pieces that laid emotions bare. There were some conceptual highlights, and some great explorations of passion, showing that Dancing on the Edge never runs out of things to say, or ways to say them.