Dumb Instrument Dance premieres Public and Private, an ensemble work that in ways both elegant and raw, is a decidedly feminist inquiry. Dancing to the meter of live Taiko, a tribe of female-bodied artists travel within to make selectively public, what was previously private.
Choreography and Performance: Ziyian Kwan in collaboration with Delia Brett, Erika Mitsuhashi, Hayley Gawthrop, Deanna Peters
Taiko Drummer: Eileen Kage
Creative Team: James Proudfoot, Heidi Taylor, Paula Viitanen
Five people lean into a beginning. In this place, time is no-time. In this place that didn’t exist before they arrived, they begin, moving out to the window and walls, marking the space with their bodies. This time is anytime, but its urgency is now. They test the edges of the room. They get ready. They contract into the centre, close, touching each other without consequence. They arrange and rearrange themselves and each other’s hair and clothes. It is familial and rough, sweet and blunt. Sometimes, they tumble into low running, their fluid animal bodies crossing the floor, a lope, a gallop. This fast switch between languid play and intent ritual is knocked into action by the fifth person: the drummer.
Here, leader and the follower trail the scent, each other, shortening the time between impulse and action. Sniff. lick. knead. move, touch, fall, gather. Slide hand along wall, slide hand along body.
In this place your presence is coincidental. Their storytelling, their series of actions + reactions does not demand watching, but you watch anyway. There is an exchange at work here. I want to ask questions to each person in this suspended place.
They won’t be able to answer me, they are busy with the work of folding, unfolding, tossing their bodies into a wave that they’ll appear from anew. I ask with the openness of a lover, anticipating between letters, anyway.
Kage: How do I enter a room? Like an animal, palms sliding on the cool floor, the drum of the floor as the drum of a body? Like a runner, dipping into the adrenaline before taking off?
Deanna: How do a coat and two arms have sex? Sliding the velvet and thrumming the fingers deeply into the folds of the fabric?
Erika: How do I remember a dance? When I imagine her, I unearth an image in my cells. Two dimensions into three. How do three bodies fit into each other? What is the song of the body remembering? What is it to witness the witness remembering what has already happened?
Delia: What does it mean to be laid flat? To have all you carry with you drawn to the surface for examining? How do your organs speak themselves into the room?
Hayley: What does another person’s heart sound like? When you return your palms to the ground over and over, do you care if we are watching?
In the space between asking and listening, I pay attention to the drum arriving into the bottom of my feet, the basin of my pelvis. I get ready.
Public and Private is produced with the generous support fo The Canada Council For The Arts, The British Columbia Arts Council and through Creative Residences at The Shadbolt Centre For The Arts, Gold Saucer Studio via Mutable Subject and Left of Main via machInenoIsy. Our media sponsor is The Georgia Straight
Photos: David Cooper of Deanna Peters, Delia Brett, Hayley Gawthrop, Erika Mitsuhashi, Eileen Kage