CENTRE STAGE: Virginie Brunelle and Maria Kong present strong narrative dance at VIDF and Chutzpah!

Open Source embraced interesting characters and expressive choreography.

Foutrement – Compagnie Virginie Brunelle

Vancouver International Dance Festival

March 3–5; Roundhouse Performance Centre

Quebecois choreographer Virginie Brunelle presented a beautiful, arresting work performed by three dancers. Wearing what can most accurately be described as tighty-whiteys, a male and female pair violently and without care collide with each other and fall into each other. No love is lost in their interaction, and we were left wondering what the context of their relationship was.

Another female dancer takes the place of the first one, and it becomes evident that there is some kind of love triangle or infidelity at play. The two women share a duet that has them walking diagonally across the stage, wearing belts all the way up their torsos. They seem devoid of emotion, unsure how to deal with their situation. Slowly they remove the belts and collapse.    

The weight and heaviness of the choreography coupled with bold, intimate movements created a stunning portrait of disillusionment and betrayal. All three dancers were physically impressive with their swift falls and daring throws.

The narrative of the piece was easy to follow and beautifully portrayed the angst of lost love and yearning. Brunelle is a sophisticated movement maker, and I hope to see more of her work make its way to Vancouver.


Open Source – Maria Kong

Chutzpah! Festival

March 5–7; Norman and Annette Rothstein Theatre

With a clear narrative arc, interesting characters, and expressive choreography, Maria Kong’s 2012 work begins on the eve of a woman’s wedding. She looks in the mirror and suddenly all her deepest, darkest fears and desires are revealed before her.

Every movement in this work has a purpose, and this made the story that Kong was telling through it all that much more clear. Each turn of the head or flick of the wrist added to the movement language and told the story of the woman, her groom, and a messenger boy who are trapped in a virtual game controlled by the “All-Time Gamer.”

This gamer was wearing unique digital gloves developed by Kong’s team that seamlessly sync sound to movement. One scene where this was on display most evidently had the messenger cutting the bride-to-be’s hair, and each chop of his fingers on her hair was perfectly matched by the sound effect of scissors. This was an impressive piece of technology I had not seen before.

Expressing the doubts, fears, hopes, and dreams of a woman about to get married, Kong’s choreography was nuanced, yet simple enough that, as soon as the groom laid himself gently on top of the woman, there was an immediate sense of resolution and finality. It was clear that the piece had come to a natural ending and the inner conflict had been resolved.


Coming up: Ballet BC Program 2

March 17–19; Queen Elizabeth Theatre

This program will be a new work commissioned French choreographer Mehdi Walerski who delighted Ballet BC audiences with his Petite Cérémonie and Prelude. This new work is said to build on the themes of Prelude, asking how to balance order and chaos. If it is anything like his previous works, it will become another audience favourite. To expand the company to over 25 dancers, the artists of Ballet BC will be joined by dancers from the Arts Umbrella Graduate Dance Program.


Coming up: Apollo e Dafne

Early Music Vancouver & Pacific Baroque Orchestra

March 18; The Vancouver Playhouse

This one night only performance of Handel’s Apollo e Dafne will also feature a performance of Bach’s lively Orchestral Suite in C Major and stars both the Grammy award-winning opera duo Douglas Williams and Yulia Van Doren, and accompaniment of the Pacific Baroque Orchestra led by conductor Alexander Weimann.

This extremely talented cast of musicians will bring these compositions to life as the drama between two lovers unfolds to display the human condition and the range of feelings in the spectrum between tragic and comic. This is not to be missed for any classical music or opera lovers.