The performance on November 17th was held for one night only in The Spatz Theatre at Citadel High School, an unusual location for Live Art Productions, but a welcome change. The theatre being much bigger than the usual Sir James Dunn Theatre, sold around 500 seats. We enter the theatre to see a full projection on the backscreen of mountainous landscapes with distorted colouring to
make the scene stormy and powerful. Before the performance began we were informed of the name of the work Backbone referenced the mountain range that stretches from north to south on the west of North America as the spine of the landscape.
With a clear atmosphere and vivid imagery in play, the live percussionist began with the dancers. The movement jumped directly into high physicality with the soundscape emulating the sounds of cracking joints.
The physicality of the show remained high for the duration of the performance with no intermission using heavy breathing, quick twitch movement, and intricate partnering. The group of dancers were stunning, and the choreography played to their physical prowess.
A few of the dancers were highlighted throughout the work, one being an acrobat who performed an intriguing duet that worked with their flexibility. Another appeared to be onstage most of the performance holding their own on the power move.
The dancers gazed at each other and the audience as if they were the kings, and us not their subjects, but the landscape they owned. While the imagery was powerful and the dancers were incomparable, I desired moments of subtlety and nuance to let my mind truly sink into the message being conveyed. I wanted to see and have insight into the lives of the dancers more through their movement and I think the high energy being constant throughout made that more difficult.
That being said, Halifax is one of only two lucky cities in Canada to receive this work on their tour, and I think the community viewing this makes us more in tune with how we view nature, the land we live on, and our consciousness of indigenous art in North America.