The National Ballet of Canada’s staging of The Dreamers Ever Leave You incorporated live piano accompaniment performed by the composer of the score. He ran through four sections of continuous trills and chord progressions while the dancers exchanged between solo and duet formations. When the pianist would stop to move onto a new section, the dancers sporadically stomped their feet. I also detected that the dancers never seemed to move the exact same way as one another, but they phrased their movements along with the different accents in the music. Although repetition was avoided, I saw many lifts between the men and women where their limbs were extended and their bodies were intertwined. At times during the performance, dancers would be motionless on the floor, lying in the shadows of a big curtain that hung from the ceiling. This backdrop was either hung low in the middle of the stage or a small portion would peek out from the ceiling. It was white, deformed, and bunched up at various places, giving a greater depth to the stage. In terms of lighting, I saw pale tones of beige, pink, orange, or turquoise, depending on the unique musical sections. Spotlights followed the movements, but not always shone on the featured dancer(s). There were distinct prototypes of costumes using either baggy shirts and pants or tight fitting shorts and tank tops. The women slicked their hair into a tight bun and finished their legs with pointe shoes. As the women floated on their toes, the men referred to intense turning jumps as their main trademark.
This performance reminded me of a group of people living in a dark cave. The hanging curtain was so visually impressive that it completely drew me into a decomposing cave after an apocalypse. While the dancers would leave the cave and be in the sunlight, the moments when the dancers would lie on their backs brought an image of sleep deprivation. It made me think that they could be trying to fall asleep, but ultimately, they must return to dancing out of a desire to see the sun again. As well, the piano sounds mimicked a hummingbird, in my opinion. I started to visualize a singular hummingbird flying around the dancers that would bring a beacon of hope during the aftermath of destruction. Thus, the music and movement were so well connected to the overall storyline.
My general feelings about the piece were that it was about ten minutes too long. Due to the fact that the musical accompaniment was inevitably the same quality throughout, I did get to a point where I wished for a dramatic change of tone so that the audience would be caught off guard. I liked the odd times when the pianist would take a small break in between sections because it helped me, as an audience member, to catch up on what I just witnessed. It progressively got frantic, and I started to feel anxious that I could not keep up. Not only were the silent moments a nice recess for the audience, but the dancers could prolong the ambiance as they stomped their feet.
A question that came to my mind after watching was if there were too many notes for the musical score. The hummingbird flaps its wings so fast that maybe there is not enough time to experience its beauty. I wondered if the piano sounds got too muffled and overlapped for the audience to really listen to it. Another question in my brain was if when Robert Binet was in the process of choreographing, if he focused a lot on the limbs of the body because the intention seemed to be coming from the dancers’ arms and legs rather than the pelvis or chest. The lifts that the men and women executed highlighted the extension of the arms and legs; therefore, I pondered about where Binet wanted the audience’s eyes to be drawn to.
From this performance, I inferred that there is a blurry line between being asleep and being awake. Although the music began to feel panic-stricken, the general tone of the piece gave the impression that the dancers were conflicted between resting in darkness or being free to dance in the sunlight outside of the cave. If there was a meaning for this piece, I believe it was that in times of sadness and distress, the influence of a fluttery hummingbird can bring optimism to our lives.