The 7th annual Fall for Dance North gives us the largest line-up in the festival’s history. One of many diverse programs, +(dix) by Côté Danse, streamed from Harbourfront Centre, is choreographer Guillaume Côté’s hypnotic take on the myth of Odysseus returning home.
With dance especially, I am often befuddled by expressions of artistic intent. I find myself torn between engaging with the work on a purely experiential level and contextualizing it based on some thematic statement. That struggle to intellectualize can stifle the urgency of, say, a more abstract appreciation.
Though, in retrospect, I can nod appreciatively at the reference to Odysseus, I can’t say it felt relevant to me as I watched. I was very much caught up in the exhilarating rhythmic shifts of the movement, from fluid and pulsing to jerky and staccato. There are times when the performers recreate what feels like janky film mechanics, shifts in frame rates that result in jarring, convulsive movement.
One of my favourite moments occurs when the music stops, plunging us into an intensely intimate experience. We are suddenly enveloped by the ambient noise of the space—the laboured breath, the displacement of air around bodies in motion.
The direction for livestream by Vikram Dasgupta is dynamic and immersive. There are moments when the camera feels thrown off-balance by the movement of the performers, careering up and away from the action as if pulled by some unseen force.
The performers—Guillaume Côté, Rakeem Hardy, Martha Hart, Benjamin Landsberg, and Kelly Shaw—maintain the breathtaking illusion that their bodies are negotiating some constantly shifting terrain—both internal and external. This contributes greatly to the sense of Son Lux’s music as an aural landscape.
I deeply appreciated the understated final moments, after the performance had concluded. Leaving the camera dropped in the tech booth—the resting performers out of focus in the background—Dasgupta offers a surprisingly resonant lead-out. The tech used to capture the performance becomes an acknowledged physical presence and evokes, with astonishing immediacy, the experience of live theatre—that sharing of physical space.