Suspense, Consciousness and Existentialism

The Dance Seen

Sitting yesterday in the Halifax Dance Studios a group of us chatted about the show two of us had seen the night before and the other two were looking forward to. Halifax’s SiNS Dance Company and Lydia Zimmer + Dancers presented two 30 minute works exploring themes of states of consciousness and what lays within those states. Impressed by the local talent here we stretched our muscles and commented on various areas of dance that have developped over the past decade. Thanks to a recognition by our public sphere of the value of dance performance we are able to share our love of dance and develop homegrown talent. Live Art’s last show of the season presented two locally sourced pieces.

Photo: Courtesy of Live Art Dance Elise Vanderborght & Jacinte Armstrong of SiNS Dance company


In Zimmer’s work: “Bonne Nuit”, moments were presented, tucked away, brought back and left to wash over the audience again allowing for a seamless “stream of consciousness” type work. Based on nightmarish visions and eerie dreams had by Zimmer just after her evening read having drifted off into dreamland, “Bonne Nuit” with its’ simple narrative satisified my eye for technical accomplishment. From the get go the set design by Pamela Zimmer and costuming by Rachel Grant offered the audience a creepy yet strangely elegant atmosphere. Zimmer beginning with book in hand expertly maneuvered through simplistic yet carefully constructed choreography underneath a suspended branch, beside a glowing lamp and around a large draping black cloth.

A group of dancers entered stage left on hands and feet carefully placing each “paw/hoof” forward undulating through their spines ghoulishly adding to the ominous feel created by a disjointed soundscape. As the piece progressed characters were introduced and allowed to share their own experiences of nightmares; from the classic teeth falling out to a very menacing ripping out of hearts.

Inspired by real sleep scares, the cast from Halifax and Toronto did a beautiful job of interpreting Zimmer’s quick & technical movement vocabulary exemplifying their own strengths. From strong, precise, incredibly focused to flexible, classically inclined and intimidating the cast was a well chosen group of talent including Zimmers’ own sister, Spohie. A touching moment came when Sophie lovingly pulled the huge black cloth over her sister; tucking her into bed. The overall feel and suspense of the piece drew me in; the intricate movement sequencing and characterization of the dancers held me there suspended in the eerily beautiful construct of the space between deep sleep and wake.

Waiting for Bardo (t) felt like the complete opposite end of the programming spectrum but as I watched I realized both pieces explored perception and the “otherness” beyond our regular state of consciuosness.

Dancers Elise Vanderborght and Jacinte Armstrong of SiNS dance company collaborated with Denise Fujiwara of Fujiwara Dance Inventions to create what in the end developped into a piece where the commonality between ideas was randomness. Inspired by an unused title and inside joke with her Husband, “Waiting for Bardo (t)” became an existential experience. With restrictions bravely placed on the dancers to use stage directions from Samuel Beckett’s play “Waiting for Godot” Fujiwara colored in the constraints with references to the French actress Brigitte Bardot’s short career along with  other references to French culture, rhyming words as in: Butoh, Godot, Bardo and symbolic “ethereal” gestures.

It was tough not to fall in love with the two characters clad in wool jackets, psychadelic mis-matched skirts and tights and adorable cloche bucket and beanie hats. Armstrong’s deliberate and sharp line delivery coupled with Vanderborght’s curious and quirky expressivity slowly built an endearing relationship.

The story evolved among the one baron tree and underneath a full moon as the two struggled for happiness; to pass through, yet unable to fully come to a solid realization of what exactly they were doing in that moment at the place. Situations arose and fell away, spontaneous dance parties slowed to a speed reminiscient of the dance practice “Butoh”. At times I got the sense that they were two lost souls waiting between life and death gathering the courage to pass on to the next step, not yet willing to let go of their current suspension in time; yet wildly unhappy with the uncertainty and the nothingness of their existence.

One last evening to catch this Halifax headliner show. Two lovely conversation pieces and treats for the mind to start your Saturday evening.


Live Art Dance Presents: SiNS + Lydia Zimmer

8PM/ Thursday-Saturday/21-23rd April/2016

Tickets: $30 General, $25 Seniors, $20 Students

Sir James Dunn Theatre, Dalhousie Arts Centre

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