Can’t Contain My Dance is a great contemporary-dance show themed around “the many hats that women wear in life.” I just wish the dancers’ statement of intent wasn’t carelessly thrown at the audience in the form of a video that served as more of a sleazy dance-studio ad than a necessary aid to my enjoyment of their art.
ViVa Dance is a company founded to provide Edmonton dancers with professional opportunity close to home – or so the video told me immediately following Can’t Contain My Dance’s opening number, a number that left me genuinely excited to analyze 50 minutes of purposeful movement.
The dancers displayed their skill from their first step. Clear and simple pair-work coordinated in different zones on the stage transitioned smoothly to multi-levelled group expressions, including intricate ground-work that conveyed emotions of waxing and waning frustration through their unified movement. Apart from the early interruption, each dance flowed smoothly into the next in an interesting, yet non-programatic fashion.
Another stellar thing I noted about the company’s work, was their ability to non-verbally communicate. This wasn’t a troupe of robotic machines executing their steps from an ordered list; their faces were constantly involved in the moment and – most strikingly – their laboured breathing was not only a means of replenishing their depleted oxygen supplies, they also conveyed their thoughts and punctuated different moments in their dances by breathing in sync with each other. It was cool.
A six-minute video soured the otherwise great performance
Yes, the dancing was great – it even lived up to the “professional” title that the company bears – but the six-minute video positioned after that first number really soured the experience. Each of the dancer’s described a dance that we were about to see, but their stilted, glassed-over gazes that trailed off the screen as if reading a poorly positioned teleprompter were in stark contrast to the emotion that their flesh and blood counterparts had shown on the stage moments earlier.
I spent the rest of the show having the girls’ nauseating introductions invade my mind when I tried to think about the intent of the dancing. These dancers are good enough to express themselves through their work alone. It would have been better if they’d let their art speak for itself.
I could have tolerated the video if it was rolled before the show began, when the audience was still settling in their seats – and a post-show screening would have been even better. I say I could have tolerated it, but that sentiment would be limited to the statement of intent segment of the video.
The brief screening also included a few minutes of shilling for Viva Dance’s weekly drop-in classes, and hiring opportunities. I didn’t enter the theatre as an investor scouting dance companies, I entered the theatre as a dance-lover looking to enjoy a self-contained work.
Can’t Contain My Dance gets my recommendation for the quality of the performers’ showing, but the skewed production and directing choices will surely diminish the experience of casual theatre-goers and dance enthusiast alike.