Saw the Compagnie Marie Chouinard's performance of bODY_rEMIX/ gOLDBERG_vARIATIONS at the Hummingbird tonight. How can I best sum up this work of comtemporary dance?
I like to think of it as Hieronymus Bosch goes to a fetish night.
I don't say that to be mean. My friends will tell you that my biggest problem with Toronto fet nights is their lack of erotic theatre. In many ways, Chouinard has come close to what I had in mind.
Ballet shoes as bondage/torture items, and the ballet barre as spreader bar are evocative. So too is the re-mixing of Glen Gould's voice commentary and piano rendition of Bach's Goldberg Variations. This is what Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights would sound like if set to music.
Unfortunately, the work soon becomes The Last Judgement. Chouinard's fetishization of crutches and the like starts off as intriguing; the female dancers do some brilliant work using the crutches, though sadly the men do not impress me as much. It is as if Chouinard was visually channeling Jim Henson (Dark Crystal) or Neil Gaiman (MirrorMask) with her dancer-crippled-by-their-art-thus-grotesque motif.
But after a while I felt like I was watching a sadomasochistic Scene, complete with bondage gear, that has gone on a bit too long. As the spectator I could not use a safeword. I loved the impressive duet between a Black widow spider/Domme and her mate/submissive. But soon things were getting repetative and comical. And whole crutch-as-phallus thing got to be ridiculous after a while.
Ultimately, this is a show that has brilliant components - ones that would work better on film than on stage, I think. As it is, a chunk of it should have hit the cutting room floor.
[image: Marie Chouinard, dancer: Chi Long]
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