Quiet, steady meditation meets flamboyant, frenetic expression—these very distinct vibes contrast and compliment each other in Toronto Dance Theatre’s pairing of two new works. For this final presentation of their season, Convergent Divergency, TDT continues their celebration of diverse, intersecting artistic practices.
We open with choreographer Atri Nundy’s helix. Out of the dark stillness, subtle movement becomes gradually apparent as cool, neutral light brightens. Six performers (Yuichiro Inoue, Rachana Joshi, Peter Kelly, Megumi Kokuba, and Purawai Vyas) slowly converge, limbs gently rising and falling—sometimes in unison, sometimes slightly offset.
Valerie Calam’s pale green outfits are understated, fitted, comfortable. Never acknowledging each other directly, we sense an awareness between them, a common purpose beneath the shared rhythm. The slow, deliberate posturing is very Tai Chi and the overall affect is calming. It eventually starts to feel monotonous, even when the jarring, irregular counting starts up.
I appreciated the elegant, relentless symmetry of the piece; from the mid-point on, though, I found it a little tiresome. I never quite felt invited into whatever communal headspace the performers were experiencing. I imagine it could pull you in, if the soothing aesthetic and placid energy resonate with you.
Danah Rosales’ GIVE ME ONE is a thrilling tonal and aesthetic shift. As we re-enter the space from intermission, the performers (Jocelyne ‘Jaws’ Cardenas, Matthew ‘Snoopy’ Cuff, Kelly-Ann Johnson, Erin Poole, Devon Snell, and Roberto Soria) rile us up. Myst Milano’s pulsating, electronic soundscape, helps prime us for an immersive, exhilarating event.
We’re propelled into this world of dynamic individuality with a quippy catwalk session. After itemizing their outfits, rattling off retail brands and prices, deconstructing their deal with call-outs to Value Village and Zara; two performers engage in a style battle with plenty of shade throwing.
With its high-octane voguing, the piece feels like an innovative, anarchic fashion show. Diséiye’s outfits are whimsical and imaginative, a blend of garish and classy looks. The momentum has a similar duality, both graceful and sassy. With appreciative cat-calling, the performers and audience are locked into a heady feedback loop. It’s an electrifying, uplifting spectacle.
The quiet riguor and austerity of helix does intensify the thrill of GIVE ME ONE and the juxtaposition seems perfect in retrospect. Noah Feaver’s lighting design helps to conjure the contrasting moods of each; from neutral wash to vivid colour, the light seems in conversation with the bodies in movement.