BWW Review: Red Sky's Insanely Physical BACKBONE Will Leave You Breathless
Exploring the connectedness of everything - BACKBONE, presented by Red Sky Performance in association with Canadian Stage, is a stimulating exhibition of dance.
In under 50 minutes, the dancers in BACKBONE work their entire bodies through intense, demanding, physical choreography. Jera Wolfe, a performer with striking presence and abilities, choreographed the show along with excerpts by Ageer, Thomas Fonua, and Sandra Laronde, who conceived and directed the piece.
Opening with sound effects sure to make you shiver, the ensemble of dancers form a tight clump, simulating neck-cracking and back-snapping to accompany Rick Sacks' seemingly random musical performance. Following the percussive beating of Sacks' electronic instruments, the dancers pulse energetically, taking them out of human form to a more natural state.
Wolfe's choreography is sharp, while remaining fluid - it depicts struggle, while also depicting tenacity. One pas de deux, choreographed by Laronde, featuring Wolfe and the wildly flexible Samantha Halas, is incredibly sensual but also nerve-wracking to watch as Halas' body contorts into unfathomable positions. Halas' pair work is Wolfe is reflected in the projections designed by Andy Moro. Moro's video work, like the dancing, is always moving - never quite taking the form of anything specific.
Choppy transitions push the fast-paced action through solos, paired scenes and unified group action. Though very impressive, the group work could use some tidying up. I can't say the same about the solo and pair work, it is top-notch and fiercely impressive.
BACKBONE, presented by Red Sky Performance in association with Canadian Stage runs through November 12th, 2017 at the Berkeley Street Theatre, 26 Berkeley Street, Toronto, ON.
For more information and to purchase tickets, visit https://www.canadianstage.com/
*photos by David Hou