NBC’s The Dreamers Ever Leave You

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.

MOMENTUM Film Critique

The film MOMENTUM boldly describes a man’s connection to movement in an astounding way. Boris Seewald, the director, manages to introduce the principal character, Patrick, without giving away the real secret behind his personality. I was very intrigued from the beginning as to what Patrick wanted to share with the audience, and I felt confused about why the location of an empty house would be the ideal environment for this story-telling. However, his colloquial dialogue and mannerisms gave me the impression that the setting would not matter; he is going to tell an interesting story, nonetheless. As well, the addition of the mother character is brilliant for a half-way twist and keeps the audience engaged as they watch her dance moves and listen to his words.

While Patrick talks to a person who is off-screen, the audience is treated to a very calm opening sequence with no extra sound but Patrick’s cheeky voice. He begins his silly story by talking about nacho chips as being the thing that initiates his urge to dance, and slowly we see that he cannot describe the story unless he moves around. He gets to be at a loss for words, so he starts moving in a frantic manner. Then, he explains that anyone has the tendency to move when the urge comes around and his mom, who sports two elegant outfits, is also included in the dance party. Together, they spin, punch and smile their way around the abandoned house as a music track picks up and leaves are thrown. With the music at a rapid tempo, the two shakers seem to be dancing like no one is watching, and projections are displayed behind them. Patrick finishes by declaring that his inspiration comes from nowhere but a tortilla chip.

The whole film has a nice crescendo to it in that it starts with a quiet conversation with Patrick. The audience is able to hear him on a personal level, and then get transported to his world of movement and drumming. I think it is well-structured in that sense. The message also resonated with me not only as a dancer but as a human because I understand the concept of finding rhythm in any conceivable way. It comes from inside of our bodies, and the story of Patrick’s nacho adventure is very relatable to his audience. As well, I like the use of leaves and in some ways, the leaves are also a character. When they are tossed up, it shows a clear example of momentum and randomness, similar to Patrick and his mother’s moves.

In terms of what I did not like, I am confused about why it is shot in what seems to be an empty house. It feels too bland and does not make sense as to why Patrick would be telling this story in this location. The characters are blocked off from the rest of the world by being in a closed setting. In my opinion, it should have been shot outside in a park where we could see other people walking by or stopping to join the dance party. Also, due to the fact that his story is about a high school dance, I feel as though the music that is played in the background is too intense and probably would not be the song playing at the disco. A better choice would be a pop song that could bring life to his story a bit better, instead of using drumming noise that reminds me too much of tribal dancing.

To conclude, I am amazed at how a simple story can be so captivating and why the director chose such a unique inspiration within a nacho chip to make a film. As well, I think the actors were so committed to the outburst of dancing and held nothing back, which made the message very clear: movement can come from anywhere. Although the location and music did not quite match the film’s charming personality, in my opinion, I think the film did a wonderful  job of starting off slow and building up to a climatic and exciting ending.

Tessa and Scott (Free Dance at Grand Prix 2017)

I cannot begin to explain my love for this performance. But I will…

First of all, the use of Moulin Rouge’s daring and seductive score inhabits so much of their journey together. The raw energy of their hard work and passion oozes out of the music and gathers everything so perfectly. They blast out of the gate with “Roxanne” to introduce themselves as fierce competitors, showing not only their ballroom background, but the control in their timing. Then they switch so effortlessly into one of my favourite pieces of art, the song “Come What May” and remind us that their chemistry is unique. No one can do it like them. No one has the partnership that they grew, and no one will compare. I am so unbelievably impressed by the connection and respect that they have for each other. I hope to one day exhibit that much trust on a stage.

Continuing on, since I don’t know much about the technical side of skating, I look to the ballet aspect that is displayed in their lines and extensions. Not only is the shape and structure in tune with the speed of their bodies, but they do it as a duet!! I have trouble just focusing on my own position; imagine adding the factor of a whole other person!!!! The way they come in and out of gorgeous positions has the quality that I only DREAM to portray. And of course, they have so much texture to the plié and extension that I, as an audience member, feel comfortable watching them defy gravity. It is so magical and visually pleasing.

Last point (except not really). We all see the focus they have. RIGHT FROM THE START. Tessa knows that she can be there present if she settles herself into her beginning pose in a calm way. Scott handles his masculinity and strength by being so peaceful and serene. (and can we just take a parentheses break to talk about his turnout… i’m sorry but how does THAT happen?) As individual athletes, their attention to “the zone” has me so amazed. Nothing could sway them. And no one wants to because when two people care so much about their art and the way they present it, WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU SCREW WITH THAT? They know that the only way to be successful in an artistic industry is to focus on the now. What is going on now. Where they are, what they can do with their mind, and how it will affect the audience.

I continually find myself crying after their programs, even during ones that are joyous. This comes from my excitement of being able to watch such a creative duo. It is truly one of a kind and deserves all the recognition in the world. Tessa, Scott, bravo on so many levels. I support all that you do. Please don’t go away. EVER.