As dance performers, choreographers and enthusiasts my friends and I see a lot of dance. We see it for research, for entertainment and for the thrill. Chasing the initial high we had that first time sitting in the audience watching performers hurl themselves through space for a moment we can glimpse how it might feel to leave your head and live through your physicality. And so Kathleen Doherty, Rhonda Baker and piled into the car to see Rendezvous 40 Silver Dart Drive at the airport Hotel.
Journey through Alt Hotel
Completing our little road trip to Enfield Kathleen, Rhonda and I entered the Alt hotel taking in the decor, a mish mash of furniture, colour, and contemporary spatial design. The adventure had begun. Missing our initial group the “VIP”s we were recruited by the “Party” group of about 12 people, the new friends we would experience the show together with. Ushered into the elevator to the first hotel room we mustered up the courage and took our place on chairs, beds, carpeted floor in the dark hotel room filled with a soundscape of snoring.
Routine was the first piece we encountered, a couple waking from slumber, making the bed, unmaking the bed, going through the routine of life we all take part in. At first synchronized, one extra step would tear the couple from each other so they eventually fell out of their initial togetherness into their own disjointed steps. I felt a wash of despair as I witnessed what often occurs in my own life when the monotony slowly tears apart the monogamy of my relationships. As the piece progressed the focus turned from the performers to the audience leaving us unattended and displaced from our original tentative positions.
We finished with this couple and walked down the narrow freshly striped hallways into the next cube. The soundscape of ironing, showering and muttering settled over us as we watched Francis La Haye dutifully readying for an outing ironed the creases from his shirt. The door slowly opened and we were struck by an image of a haunting. The haunting of a female kind. Thrown to the floor, wrapped around a body and locked in a closet, the female figure dutifully fulfilled the sad and wanting memories of the male. Again, this sadness of regret and loss, however presented in sometimes very comical ways. In such a close space, how could we not giggle away our nervousness? When flesh is flashed around as if we were not 12 people witnessing this intimate moment, we became like flies on the wall.
Romeo meets his match
A break to the lobby and a glass of wine later, we poked into the next room on the fifth floor. Set to Prokofiev’s composition of Romeo and Juliet Glamour swept the old ideas of relationship into the hallway and bared a more contemporary vision of a woman man relationship. Playfully reciting Shakespeare while hiding and seeking, sometimes in their own world and sometimes in each other’s world, Clara Furey & Peter Trosztmer flirted, galavanted, pretended and declared their “inexhaustible” love to each other. A fine match of strength beauty and character relieved any feelings that all of the pieces would centre around the lust of a man for a woman leaving out the possibility for fair exchange. Giggling, playing dead, breathing each other to life and warring each other with vocal exchanges while trotting in a circle on the bed brought the couple to their final exhaustive pose lying side by side in their ultimate demise; that of the fate of Romeo and Juliet. Glamour felt like the culmination of special moments one hopes to experience in a romantic relationship where time and space suspends for a moment to let the lightness of love break through.
Fear and Loathing…of what I’m not sure…
The fourth and final room was set up for an experience. Entering, we were instructed to view from anywhere. The hotel radio blared an electronic punk tune as Guillaume Rodrigue belted at us “How are you doing??????”. The initial set up of the space drew me in and got my heart pumping. Drop cloths over everything, half eaten apples and ripped up paper all over the bathroom floor told me I was in for a trip. In Classic Frederick Gravel style, the performers were aggressive and unapologetic. Shoving audience members out of the way, yelling, even biting! (Don’t worry, we all escaped unscathed, these guys are professionals.) There was an underlying darkness to Fiction that smelled of the scarier side of sexuality and my gut wrenched as Peter James dragged Rodrigue into the bathroom unwillingly. Ending with a playful game I wasn’t left too long mulling over the dark scene and we were kicked out into the hallway.
Returning to the now familiar Alt lobby, my comrades and I chatted about each piece and how they brought something completely different to the table. Kathleen was inspired by the energy of Glamour while Rhonda appreciated the experience of being an audience member in such a tight space; one consideration for the piece she’s currently working on for Votive dance. The show felt so human and though none completely committed to a narrative, all were conceptually strong; striking a chord in the recesses of our experiences of intimate exchange.
As we drove home, against the flow of the Mooseheads Game traffic, I felt privileged to partake in these experiences; one of Halifax’s best kept secrets. Dance is alive in Halifax and offering those in the know a chance to live through the thrill of movement, provocative experience and human pathology on just another Friday night.