Lighting and Projection Design

33/33 – Kylie Thompson Dance – The Winchester Street Theatre – Toronto

A REVIEW OF THOMPSON’S LATEST WORK, “33/33”

 

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Photo: Dedra McDermott, Sebastian Hirtenstein, Miyeko Ferguson and Emily Spearing in 33/33. 

Photo by E.S. Cheah Photography

Take any line and cross it with another. That spot, the point of intersection, is the most
interesting place on any line: the location where it collided with another. Kylie Thompson’s new work, 33/33, centers around the geometric elements of movement. From Simon Clemo’s projections straight through to Stephanie Orlando’s musical composition and Simon Clemo’s lighting design, the work focusses wholly on points, lines, shapes, and numbers. And, through the carving and circling, cracking and cutting movement, the end shape reverberates as a meaningful portrayal of how people, like lines, are most interesting when they collide.
The shape of the work itself could be described as a circle. The sound of a billowing ocean wave opens the piece, the lights revealing seven dancers onstage: four females—Miyeko Ferguson, Dedra Mcdemott, Alyssa Petrolo, and Emily Spearing—surrounding three males—Sebastian “Bash” Hirtenstein, Gavin Law, and Darian Mark. Standing downstage on the left, McDermott begins, paralleling the sounds of the ocean in her movements, arms flowing around her body like waves rushing over the sand. Then, like waves breaking apart, her movements open, cracking apart with a pressing weight. Eventually, the movement is passed around the outer circle, while the three male dancers in the center move slowly. Each move towards a shape without ever stopping, transforming like Greek statues from one softened pose
to another.

A shift in the music, from waves to chimes, causes a shift in the movement: limbs become swifter and more defined, the dancers themselves becoming more acrobatic and dynamic. Solid lines form and then break apart, the dancers are spun, swung or pulled outwards. At one point, five dancers watch one, ignoring another. The other, McDermott, casts herself on a downstage diagonal, her movements jerky, her body constantly pulled to the floor. The group eventually turns to her, pulls her up, and then lets her down, caught in a constant cycle of giving and taking, then pulling and throwing.

In a moment alone, Hirtenstein commands the stage. Beginning with bird-like actions, his nose guides his way and, like a pen tip curving on a page, he decorates the air. As the section continues, he fills his lungs as though on guard, his eyes waiting for another movement to flitter across the stage. His movements continue to captivate, as he jerks and twists his body, articulating his limbs with precision, his body terse with potential. Another dancer, Petrolo, joins him, their duet morphing into a mutual challenge, as the waves bring us back full circle to the start.

Then, instead of ending with a perfect circle, Thompson pierces a line through her work,
bring the dancers back on stage, one by one, for a numerical face off. The dancers call out numbers, rolling at seemingly random intervals until the last dancer arrives onstage and calls out the number eight. In a breath, all the dancers roll and the piece ends, without decisive resolution.
By cutting the work open at the end, Thompson changes the entirety of the work. Just as a painter draws a line through a fully formed shape to change our perspective, Thompson gives the audience symmetry and then draws a line through it, not wiping it out, but changing its essential meaning. After all, the place of intersection—the point where lines and lives collide—is where everything changes.

– MARISSA TRARBECK

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