As part of the eclectic programming for the 7th annual Fall for Dance North festival, the NIGHT/SHIFT series (co-presented by Citadel + Compagnie) features four short dance pieces that are as intensely emotional as they are visually dynamic. Performed live in front of a small audience at The Citadel: Ross Centre for Dance, the digital streamed episodes run approximately 40 minutes. Each opens with a brief introduction by the artist and concludes with a short Q&A.
Mestiza, choreographed and performed by Olga Barrios, is a celebration of her heritage and pays tribute to the Indigenous people of Colombia whose history has been almost lost. The visceral soundscape is a hypnotic blend of insect-like cracklings, heartbeats and ominous creaking. After emerging from a cocoon-like robe, Barrios gradually sheds pieces of clothing in a whirling journey of ecstatic discovery. Indigenous faces projected onto her robe is one of many striking visuals.
Kean Buffalo and River Waterhen, Plains Cree youth (22 and 24 years old, respectively), offer up some street dance. Set in an urban environment, they emerge from benches, surrounded by other young adults and perform hip hop—animation style. The intricate and fast-paced robotic movements are breathtaking. With coloured light and electronic music, the overall effect is impressively kaleidoscopic.
SpiritYouAll, choreographed and performed by BaKari Ifasegun Lindsay, is full of strained and breath and pained movement. Lindsay evokes the struggle re-learn how to move through the world after a deep hurt. His work with props is particularly nuanced and insightful. The presence of water in the opened gourd is a visceral thrill. I was particularly appreciative of livestream director Barbara Willis Sweete’s tracking shots capturing the sensual stretch and pull of fabric along the stage floor.
Grandmother’s Drum, choreographed and performed by Sashar Zarif, is a tribute to his artistic role model—his grandmother—and the drum she passed on to him. Zarif’s work is in the contemporary style of Maugham, influenced by Sufi and Shamanic rituals. Surrounded by drums, there is one that is singled out with a spotlight—through the piece, Zarif conveys his relationship to this specific instrument. There is a haunting musicality in the rhythmic slapping of hands and stamping of feet—blended with the his a cappella singing, this feels acutely devotional.
NIGHT/SHIFT is an exciting mix of styles and atmospheric flourishes. The livestream camerawork and editing artfully captures the unique energy of each performer and the nuances of their work. Though distinct, there are themes of healing, reflection and tribute that resonant throughout.