Hearts of Darkness

Imaginative, immediate, innovative, intense, energetic, exertive, exciting, evocative, curious, chaotic, compelling, creative…

These some of the words scattered across my notebook as I scrambled to capture the spirit and sheer physicality of last night’s opening performance of Coming Together/ Attica, a powerful two-in-one presentation of contemporary dance at the David Mack Murray Studio in Halifax.

A moving, minor-keyed musical mélange by members of Symphony Nova Scotia – led by principal violinist Robert Uchida – opened the evening’s events, setting a moody and brooding tone for the surreal soiree. Discordant drones, squeaks, squeals and a flurry of stops and starts evoked a spectrum of emotions, inviting the audience to explore their own hearts of darkness.

The stringed quartet then merged with seven other musicians as a half-dozen dancers took the floor for Coming Together, the first piece of the program. In pairs, and then on their own, bodies bobbed and burst, jerking and jolting like manic mannequins going madly off in all directions, limbs askew and awry. The observant eye twitches and twists – perhaps a nervous tic of sorts - in a struggle to attain some sense of order amidst the anarchy. Ultimately, however, the rousing and random rotations overwhelm the critical mind, and the full effect is one of absorption and surrender.

Attica is shorter and more subtle, emphasizing softer contours and smoother transitions - transactions between dancers. Still, make no mistake, the second set is decisive and demanding, with sweat spouting off in all directions.

Credit to Halifax-born artistic director and choreographer Rebecca Lazier for allowing her TERRAIN troupe members enough room - even in such a small space - to bring their own style and stuff to the stage. As such, the work is an inspired balance of invention and improvisation.

To that end, Coming Together/Attica is stirring, spastic, sensual and, in a word, satisfying. ~ SPC / KM

Coming Together / Attica until June 2
David Mack Murray Studio, Dalhousie Arts Centre, Halifax

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