I had a great weekend of Arts - catching Tania Alvarado and Mile Zero Dance on Saturday night and Free-man on the Land on Sunday afternoon.
It was fabulous to see the modern dance on Saturday. Though the night was sharp and cold, it was a wonderfully full house out at the Timm's Centre to see the show presented by the Brian Webb Dance Company. There were two pieces. The first was choreographed by Tania Alvarado and the second was choreographed by Gerry Morita of Mile Zero Dance. I really connected to the first piece. Amazing to think that these artists are Alberta grown for the most part. As a theatre person I always search for story and context and with dance this can be a little more abstracted, but for me the first piece was about community and connection and I was amazed by the athleticism mixed with artistry. The story is not important. I was less connected to the second piece, but felt it was taking a lot of risks and experimenting. I think my bigger challenge with connecting was that the lighting choices made it difficult to see what I wanted to see. In theatre we use lighting to tell the audience where to look, and I wasn't sure what to focus on. That might have been the point.
On Sunday, Free-man on the Land served up a very interesting experience at Theatre Network. The structure challenged expectations - is this a play? what's going on here? do we answer back? - the topic was interesting and challenged ideology - FMOTL check it out. The production is tight without appearing slick. It has a deceptive approachability that makes you think it could be improvised, but it's so tight, you know that it is scripted and they are just that good. It's a show that makes you think and one that makes you laugh. There is a real sense of showmanship with the production. Steve Pirot has the second best stage voice in the city (next to Clinton Carew) and he is well suited to his role as master of ceremonies - his poetic banter is a treat to listen to, and Murray Utas seemed perfectly cast as Nobody, an often antagonistic force. Dale Ladouceur provides a phenomenal live sound scape and a soft foil to the masculine energy of Des Parenteau as the Free-man. I am not sure that the Free-man deserved his pay-off script wise, but that was a minor flaw. It all seemed to work. It also has some of the best projection work I have seen in theatre - seamlessly created and executed by Matt Schuurman. It's not mainstream, but it's about a fringe philosophy - what would you expect?