Dancers: Laura Avery, Hayden Fong, Josh Martin, Renee Sigouin, Jessica Wilkie, and Sophia Wolfe
Thursday, May 7, 8:00pm
Harbourfront Centre Theatre as part of Next Steps
231 Queens Quay West, Toronto
Reviewed by Ted Fox
Six dancers join together to create a single organism with alternating heads popping up in the centre. Clumped together, their faces express contentment and playfulness as their hands caress and enfold the others.
One by one they separate from this body and unite to become human cells in a fast-moving hyper-pulsating organism. Yet all retain their individuality, seemingly improvising within the moment, according to each dancer's background.
Their facial expressions radiate awareness of the vibes of those around them, assessing and reacting to each other. They are alert to sudden spontaneous changes in movement, tempo, pauses and speed. In many fast-paced dance shows, dancers in unison are choreographed to move the same. Here, though, there is a sense of independence, trust and caring for each other.
The hyper lighting design ranges from ultra-bright blue, gold, red and white. The dancers' bodies stand out more sharply than if seen in reality. A white-lit segment in which the dancers freeze with their backs to us has the effect of a sculptured snapshot.
Behind the dancers are projections that suggest a blurred grassy field on which the shadows of their actual body movements appear. This is a naturalistic counterpoint to the steely digital sharp figures and environment we are seeing. Just like the brief appearance of a scratchy recording of Enrico Caruso which sounds more natural than a digitized version.
The show climaxes with the dancers peeling off the black reflecting plastic sheets on the floor that they danced on. One by one they drop out of dancer mode into individuals like us. One keeps dancing, oblivious to the others, who try to make her aware that the show is over. Eventually she too stops. The dancers stand, backs to us, looking like we do, at the sheets piled along the back of the stage, the metallic light bouncing off them. There is a sense of looking at a mirage of a futuristic city on a horizon or the remnants of one.
Is there a socio-political thread running through this piece? Does the title refer to them as the Vital Few who have worked on this creation as a group while keeping their individuality? That there is hope that by coming together with trust we can dismantle our current technological society and rebuild?
Visually, aurally and stunningly danced, Vital Few resonates as an exhilarating, gripping experience.