soft foot | DOTE Vancouver

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Women Exploring Dreams, Myths and the Senses: Edge One

 soft foot by Robin Poitras

The Karolina Sisters by Caroline Liffman and Lina Fitzner

peeling away like a bubble in wallpaper by Vanessa Goodman

Firehall Arts Centre: July 5 and 7, 2012

Edge One featured three works by four women choreographers, highlighting the breadth of women’s creativity in contemporary dance.

By Mary Theresa Kelly

Robin Poitras’ soft foot, commissioned and performed by Ziyian Kwan, is marked by Kwan’s gifted kinesthetic intelligence. The work is dedicated to the memory of Amelia Itcush, renowned for incorporating into dance the principles of Mitzvah Technique, a therapeutic system of body mechanics that emphasizes the correct relationship of the pelvis, spine and head in movement sequencing. Appropriately, Kwan’s upper body is nude, allowing us to observe a well-aligned spine, and her movement clarity practically inspired my own vertebra to subtly adjust.

While somatic approaches inform the movement, the mythology of Ursa Major, also known as the Great Bear constellation, informs the themes. Kwan, a white stripe painted vertically on her torso, appears as a warrior, signifying cultural myths that depict the stars in the constellation as hunters chasing a bear. In many sections, she works with two extremely long bamboo poles, manipulating them with ease as extensions of her spine; I read them as symbolic references to the “pointer stars” in the Bear constellation that orient one to true north. Projecting guttural syllables from her body’s depths, Kwan somatically and imaginatively enacts her transformation from woman to bear. Conceptually, Poitras and Kwan seem to parallel the spaces deep in the body with the deep space of Ursa Major.