Above: 📷 Cheryl Folland

By Arts Editor Cheryl Folland

On January 29, I was invited to attend my first Contemporary Dance (hosted at The Port Theatre in Nanaimo) show in a long while. 

As we took our seats, Artistic Director for Crimson Coast Dance Society, Holly Bright, described the society’s theory of dance. Likening their style to poetry of the body, she invited us to “let it wash over you, sit with you, and change your emotions.”

In preparation for exploring love’s theme, a basket of love notes was passed through seated guests, each with a unique handwritten message.

“Remember that you’re special and particularly important in the space you take up between Heaven and Earth,” Bright said.

As a student of poetry at VIU, I was well prepared for the unexpected, even overtly symbolic nature of poetic dance. Portrayed in a medley of vignettes set to live jazz by Aram Bajakian, JP Carter, and Peggy Lee, the show evoked a rollercoaster of emotions in me—much like love does.

Experimental Jazz composed by Peggy Lee and Handmade Blade blended seamlessly in tonality with precise, sometimes frenetic, movements between the evening’s principle dancers Noam Gagnon and Ziyain Kwan.

As I watched scenes of physical poetry play out before me, I titled each portion of my interpretation of this physical poetry began as “Love is a Fight”, moving through to “Love is a Drug”, and arriving at “Love is a Profound Gift”.

Love is a Fight

Two lovers dance through the beginning, middle, and end of a passionate and somewhat dark love affair. At first, there was a flutter of activity that abandoned reason. Bodies began to move in mirrored action, deteriorating into hand to hand combat, and diminishing with both lovers, out of breath, in a heap on the floor.

Love is a Drug

Regardless of the abuse sustained within the relationship, the injured parties continue to chase after one another. It’s as if their only respite from the world is in each other’s arms, and yet, being together hurts them more deeply than external forces ever could.

Love is a Profound Gift

My favourite scene. After a brief monologue about the definition of love to each person, the female character explains the word amateur in light of love. She singles in on the key phrase for the love of it. The house lights come up, and a man, standing strong and tall, walks from the audience to centre stage. Here, he and the principle male character, share an incredibly raw passionate kiss.

Mixed opinions emerged from patrons exiting the performance. Some appreciated the abstract poeticism of the movements. Some expressed “that was terrible” but were unable to explain why. I imagine it’s similar to poetry—you either love it or hate it. There isn’t a neutral ground.

I was in awe of the expert execution of both sound and movement. Body isolations, facial expressions, rise and fall of energy, and sound. Love is messy, and so was the performance—it was beautiful.

For more information about Crimson Coast Dance Society, visit crimsoncoastdance.org.

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