A Dancers Dancing production. At SFU Woodward’s in the Goldcorp Centre for the Arts on Wednesday, May 23. Continues until May 26
You know when a friend tells you about the dream he or she had last night, but something gets lost in the translation? That’s kind of like the sensation of watching The Fine Line—twisted angels.
Full of bodies repeatedly jumping and flailing, when they weren’t tweaking, shaking, and madly scratching at themselves, the new Dancers Dancing show was an intense hour of frenetic movement that’s mystifying from its beginnings to its final moments.
In fact, choreographer Judith Garay has said the piece was inspired by a dream she had about creepy figures, and The Fine Line certainly follows a dream logic—or illogic—set to a spooky, echoing electronic score by Patrick Pennefather. Flick Harrison’s projections are hazy blobs and zig-zag designs, and they’re apt symbols of the amorphous feel of the overall work.
As usual, Garay’s dancers—Vanessa Goodman, Bevin Poole, and Cai Glover—commit both to the work’s odd mood and to its frantic, taxing movement. Sometimes the pace is fast: in one solo, Glover whipsaws his legs and arms like rotor blades. At other moments, the dancers are zombified: Poole moves Goodman around the floor like a loose puppet, or they slither out of their voluminous trench coats on the floor like snakes shedding their skin. Garay says in the program notes that the piece is all about perception and the “fine line” between sensation and understanding, or between sleeping and waking. Thus, we also see Goodman acting like an addict who’s tweaking out, scratching at unseen nits and methodically zipping an invisible zipper along another dancer’s reclined body.
The veteran Garay has recently been pushing her style into new realms, beyond her flowing, Martha Graham–influenced choreography of the past. Her more conceptual, contemporary experiments had some exciting results in 2010’s Extra Extra. But here, the Cuisinart-like blending of disparate styles and elements—the fabric play of the coats, the modern grace, the ghoulish shaking and jerking—feels disjointed, like they don’t flow into a meaningful whole. There is some striking, eerie imagery, but The Fine Line doesn’t have the unified resonance of say, dusk, Joe Ink’s recent exploration of a similar haunting limbo.
Then again (and it’s The Fine Line’s main theme), that’s just one person’s perception.