Company: Alexandra Elliott Dance and Black Heart Dance, Winnipeg, MB
Venue: 8 - The Rachel Browne Theatre
Elliott and Vandale bring the full resources of their knowledge and technical expertise to the choreography and performance of these dances (as do the other excellent dancers in the production), and you won’t regret the time you spend in their worlds.
This contemporary dance show consists of four pieces by Renée Vandale and Alexandra Elliott. Vandale and Elliott are both accomplished and polished choreographers and performers, and their experience and skill are evident throughout.
Vandale's "poison" plays with the standard trope of dancers possessed by their shoes, but makes it feel fun and fresh; imagine a nightmarish yet slightly kooky Linda Blair (times two) dancing in a 'House of Psychotic Women' horror film with a carousel rock soundtrack.
"Her Sway," an exploration of celebrity (as symbolized by the red carpet) is visually lovely, but Vandale seems satisfied to portray the familiar Britney/LiLo/Amanda Bynes narrative (pretty starlet, public breakdown, glitzy yet unsustainable comeback, the destructive yet inescapable lure of the spotlight, etc.) without providing new insight or questioning the story.
Elliott's strongest piece is "Morada," a beautifully structured solo dance (including spoken narration, convincingly integrated and performed by Elliott) that tells and then takes apart a story of three young women bicycling in Argentina. The transition from the languid, sensual tone of the opening to the fear and hurt of the closing is surprising, effective, and expertly handled. Particularly compelling are the moments when Elliott tells one story with her voice and simultaneously offers a contradictory narrative with her body.
Is it unreasonable to complain when contemporary dance is too accessible? Although technically excellent and visually beautiful, the dances in this production don't really challenge the audience. And I like being challenged, at least a little.
Still, Elliott and Vandale bring the full resources of their knowledge and technical expertise to the choreography and performance of these dances (as do the other excellent dancers in the production), and you won't regret the time you spend in their worlds.