Review Roundup: BACKBONE at Red Sky Performance - What Did The Critics Think?

Review Roundup: BACKBONE at Red Sky Performance - What Did The Critics Think?

BACKBONE at Red Sky Performance runs through November 12. BACKBONE is a cutting-edge dance creation inspired by the 'spine' of the continents, charting the vast and rocky terrain of our human landscape. Through contemporary Indigenous dance and raw athleticism, eight dancers bring to life the electricity and impulses of our rocky mountainous backbone.

The cast stars dancers Ageer, Eddie Elliott, Lonii Garnons-Williams, Phillipe Larouche, Julie Pham, Joshua St. John, and Jera Wolfe. BACKBONE is directed by Sandra Laronde, with collaborative choreography by Jera Wolfe and Thomas Fonua, video and lighting design by Andy Moro and Michel Charbonneau, and costume design by Jeff Chief.

Let's see what the critics had to say!

Martha Schabas, The Globe and Mail: There was standout dancing from the intense Lonii Garnons-Williams, who's built like a lightweight boxer and fluidly showcased her strength. I also appreciated the gender neutrality of some of the side-by-side pas de deux and trios: a woman's role in one grouping was danced by a man in the other. I was awed by dancer Samantha Halas's contortionist poses and intrigued by the way an aerial-view video of her and her partner was projected on the screen behind them (designed by Andy Moro).

Taylor Long, BroadwayWorld: 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.

S. Bear Bergman, Mooney On Theatre: Jera Wolfe, who is the choreographer as well as a dancer stands out in the company. He makes dance look like play, which is remarkable considering the intense physicality of this piece. He smiles throughout, as he lifts every one of the other dancers over and over, and over again. It's as if the gravity has been turned down in his immediate vicinity and he is making the most of it. He also gives us a remarkably gender-fluid kind of work, particularly in the partnered dances - I cannot remember having seen any other not-explicitly-queer work in which the men lifted dancers of all genders so often and so tenderly.


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