Dancers finally connect in 'The Space Between'

Joan Sullivan
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Festival of New Dance

The 19th Annual Festival of New Dance got off to a stunning start Tuesday night with its opening performance of "The Space Between." Choreographed by Andrew Tay of Montreal, the two-hander, featuring Tay and Annabelle Savard, was set in the crisp, clean, black-box theatre space the Festival has designed at the Kirk on the corner of Queen's Road and Long's Hill. With spare, effective lighting, an original and evocative score by Bryce Kushner, and minimal props, the dancers share the stage, performing entrancing solos that gradually merge into a riveting duet.

The movements are often simple, but always simply amazing. They gloss into and jerk through configurations, with both dancers often moving through the same cycles of gestures, but with starkly calibrated deliveries.

Andrew Tay - Submitted photo by Pam Schneider

The 19th Annual Festival of New Dance got off to a stunning start Tuesday night with its opening performance of "The Space Between." Choreographed by Andrew Tay of Montreal, the two-hander, featuring Tay and Annabelle Savard, was set in the crisp, clean, black-box theatre space the Festival has designed at the Kirk on the corner of Queen's Road and Long's Hill. With spare, effective lighting, an original and evocative score by Bryce Kushner, and minimal props, the dancers share the stage, performing entrancing solos that gradually merge into a riveting duet.

The movements are often simple, but always simply amazing. They gloss into and jerk through configurations, with both dancers often moving through the same cycles of gestures, but with starkly calibrated deliveries.

Savard, in a white sleeveless top and grey skirt, tweaks and glides like a windup toy, or a marionette. She gives an impression of being pulled, by an unseen puppeteer, through her first routine, ending by sitting on a chair. This stark assessment does no justice to how 'manipulated' she seems. The movements appear to pass through her. It is almost eerie. Tay is then spot lit, screaming soundlessly into a pink and green microphone, everything very broad and slow, then broken and reattempted, in extenuated spans. Again, it seems as if the dance is working through him. As well, his costume of a white T-shirt and grey trousers echoes Savard's, and adds a suggestion of 1950s fashion, which is echoed by his stances with the microphone. In a sense he is like a man channelling all he can summon into belting out "Blue Suede Shoes," but he is not able to start singing.

Then they clear away the chair and mic, and move in parallel rows. Every motion ripples and builds into each other. Nothing is arced over, but broken down into its components and enacted. Even a simple hand wave is presented bit by bit, but very quickly, like a film run forward and backward, very fast. At one point Tay makes a turn that is over almost before we realize he has started. It is both dramatic and understated.

In the final section (this piece is very short, running about 20 minutes), the two dancers, who have achingly almost touched, but never connected, now do find each other, and they embark on a pas de deux that is a kind of a clutching tango, full of high speed attraction, rejection and appeasement.

They often make the same signals and gesticulations, but in completely individual ways. Each dancer in fact differentiates their own sequences and manoeuvring moment by moment, ringing them through some impressive changes. Throughout the music keeps pitch with the cadence of action and emotion.

"The Space Between" is programmed again tonight, at 8 p.m. followed by "Mouse and Men," co-created by "The Choreographers" (Montreal) and performed by Peter Trosztmer and Audree Jutueau. Also today, Isabel Mohn (Montreal) performs "Perfect Strangers," 6 p.m. at the Cochrane Street United Church.

Tay will also be leading a workshop, "Making The Silent Seem Spoken," at 10 a.m. at the Wild Lily Dance Centre on Water Street.

Organizations: Wild Lily Dance Centre

Geographic location: Montreal, Cochrane Street, Water Street

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