By Adelina Fabiano
Their limber bodies moved sporadically across the floor like a child spontaneously splashing paint against a wall; up, down, twisting, spiralling, circling, connecting, and evolving into a masterful display of expression.
Spearheaded by the talented and innovative husband and wife duo Allen and Karen Kaeja, 20/20 Vision, presented by Kaeja d’Dance, is an original, powerful and artful masterpiece. Celebrating their 20th anniversary as an established and successful dance company specializing in contact improvisation, they bring to their audience a freedom of expression where boundaries cease to exist.
Presented at the Enwave Theatre at the Harbourfront Centre as part of the NextStep dance series, 20/20 Vision is comprised of four distinct dance numbers. With its own emotional intensity, unique choreography, striking sound and lighting combinations, and multi-media effects, each scene ignites our imaginations, compelling our bodies to move with them, despite our inhibitions.
The show begins with The Visitor, choreographed by co-artistic director Karen Kaeja and performed by Stephanie Tremblay Abubo. The dancer has been waiting. She wrestles with the two pieces of furniture, around, on top, below, behind, impatiently awaiting the imminent arrival of someone or something. Like a marionette puppet, the strong and talented Abubo, without physical or vocal restriction, allows her body’s impulses to take control.
The stage clears, and the second act follows with a lonely beach umbrella and the sound of crashing waves. Quenched is a story of love. Moving to the tunes of Lou Reed and Easy Muffin, performers/interpreters Courtnae Bowman and Zhenya Cerneacov are playful and charming, a strong juxtaposition to the previous number. Touching, embracing, lifting, teasing, they cunningly integrate the umbrella as a symbol of something that both divides and ultimately brings them, together.
Jericho, choreographed by Allen Kaeja, and performed by Stian Danielson, Catharina Vehre Gresslien, Irene Theisen, Nasser Mhende and Ratih Windrati, is the most aggressive of all pieces. With their strength and force, the dancers challenge, intimidate, force, crush, lift, push and pull one another throughout the empty space. It was amazing to see the physical strength and agility of the female dancers, as there were clearly no limitations. They were at par with their male counterparts!
Finally, Armour/Amour, blends movement and media, exploring the intricate details of our “self.” Choreographed, directed and created beautifully by Allen Kaeja, performers Karen Kaeja and Mairead Filgate interpret this concept with emotion, freedom, and joy. The added live media and cinematography was brilliant. Incredibly eye-catching to watch!
Edgardo Moreno’s sound design and musical compositions were stimulating and original. Lighting design by Kimberly Purtell and Peter Albers was extremely powerful and detailed, adding a whole other texture to the overall show.
The contact dance/improvisation technique, an element of contemporary dance, requires a lyrical freedom within the body. It is almost like a type of “organized chaos”-structured, yet un-structured, impulsive yet controlled. As an audience member, you do not know what will come next, as one organic movement expands into another.
20/20 Vision, by Kaeja d’Dance, is a fast-paced moving experience, both energizing and inspiring. With only three shows to go, I am sure Kaeja d’Dance will continue to be extraordinary pioneers in all that they do.
-Tickets cost $17-38 and may be purchased by calling 416-973-4000 or by visiting www.harbourfrontcentre.com
-For more information on Kaeja d’Dance, please visit www.kaeja.org
Photograph of Irene Theison (supporting), Catharina Vehre Gresslien (flying) and Ratih Windrati (running) by Jorg Wiesner