Sara Does a Solo is a contemporary one-woman-show dance by Sarah Porter. While movement is the focus of the performance, Porter demands a triple-threat performance of herself, and delivers. Dance routines are entwined with confessional monologues, which are often enhanced with the performance of song excerpts. Most of the routines were accompanied by music, ranging from Mary Margaret O’Hara to Chopin. An early routine is accompanied by a monologue, and the opening movement is unaccompanied.
I use the term “routine” loosely. The monologues reveal that improvisation is an integral part of Porter’s creative practice, and it is clear that improvisation is a part of this show. In the performance I experienced, the unexpected appearance of a fly in the studio was incorporated into a monologue about her relationship with movement. I was asked how I was doing when I had an unfortunate coughing fit. It is clear from the performance that Porter’s relationship with movement and her body is highly instinctual, and it is credible that she can seamlessly weave spontaneous decisions into rehearsed passages.
Despite Porter’s clearly visceral connection to movement, this is far from a raw performance. Her technique is superb. Each gesture is energized from the core of the body, and the energy flowed right through the tips of the fingers and toes and into the audience. Held poses are stylized perfection, yet natural and free. Feats of athleticism appear supple, light, and effortless.
The monologues that hold the performance together are well written and well performed. The storytelling focuses on life as a mother and an artist, in a world that makes these identities challenging and conflictual. This theme was very easy for me to relate to.
The monologue at the end that explains the importance of Chopin in earlier dance numbers is especially powerful. The audience’s tension and discomfort was palpable.
Although the monologues are instrumental in elucidating the themes of the show, the emotions of this production must be felt rather than understood. The dance finale snakes into the heart and wraps around the gut. This performance is sure to be a highlight of the festival, and a must-see for dance enthusiasts.
- Sara Does a Solo is playing until August 14 at Scotia Bank Studio Theatre, Pia Bouman School for Ballet and Creative Movement (6 Noble Street, Toronto, ON )
- Show times are August 8 at 9 PM, and August 14 at 5 PM
Individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Live Art Series ticket prices vary. Tickets are available online at http://summerworks.ca, by phone at 416-320-5779 and in person at the SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst St). Open August 2-14 from 10am-7pm. Cash and credit accepted. (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee)
Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows.