SFU alumni showcase the diversity of dance with Conduit

Local dance troupe presented three dances choreographed by SFU alumna at Vancouver Fringe Festival

The Body Orchestra is a seven-person dance troupe, five of which are SFU alumni. Image courtesy of Jenn Edwards / Conduit.

By: Katie Hemion, Staff Writer 

Shown at this year’s Vancouver Fringe Festival, Conduit is a series of three dances performed by members of local dance troupe The Body Orchestra. Choreographer Jenn Edwards, an SFU alumna, did fantastic work in creating a visually engaging series of pieces that exceeded my expectations for the night. Each dancer took their performances beyond the choreography given to them and added their own unique spin to their dancing. I was impressed not only with their strengths as individual dancers, but also with their level of comfort and trust in each other while moving together. 

Growing up, I have always loved dancing, so naturally I jumped at the opportunity to see The Body Orchestra perform Conduit as part of this year’s Fringe Festival. Learning that five of the seven dancers are SFU alumni from our contemporary arts program only added to my excitement, and I was definitely not disappointed. I attended the first performance of Conduit on September 6 at The Cultch Theatre.

Opening with Imposter Syndrome, the dancers moved with clear skill and were certainly well prepared for opening night. Initially eclectic and moving towards togetherness, the types of movement were intentional and channelled the frustration and anxiety that comes with imposter syndrome (the fear of being exposed as a “fraud” in one’s field of work) in an engaging performance.

The next segment, Other Creatures, was a dystopian piece that opened with an enthralling duet of curiosity, possession, and infatuation and kept my attention through all segments. In particular, the costuming and use of lighting in this one stood out to me. The blend of feral energy and themes of nonconformity with a shift to lighter wonder towards the end of the dance made it a stunning work of art.

However, I have to say that Conduit was the dance of the three that stuck with me the most. Composer Mary Jane Paquette’s work was most evident here, and it was particularly striking in quieter moments that allowed for the sounds of the dancers’ own movement, counting, and humming to be a part of the performance. It felt familiar to me from my own time in dance studios in displaying a look at the relationship between the different kinds of artists necessary to create works like these.

Overall, Conduit was an engaging performance that is inviting to its audience regardless of whether its members have any experience as dancers. The three dances were diverse in their messages, and I found that I enjoyed each one even more than the last. Additionally, the dancers were exceptionally talented at their craft and it was evident that they really know how to work well as a team — that was what truly brought the performance together for me.