Simple Lines of Enquiry-- Julia Sasso dances at Harbourfront Centre


SLoE-- Simple Lines of Enquiry

Choreographer/Direction: Julia Sasso

Music: Eve Egoyan live on piano, playing Ann Southam

Dancers: Angela Blumberg, Irvin Chow, Jesse Dell, Vanessa Goodwin, Susan Lee, and Deanna Peters

Julia Sasso dances in association with Harbourfront Centre

Enwave Theatre, Toronto

September 27-30th 2012




In SLoE--Simple Lines of Enquiry, pianist Eve Egoyan plays Ann Southam's Simple Lines of Enquiry for solo piano, a composition that is minimalist and atonal, and has a lulling trance-like effect. Julia Sasso counterpoints this with a highly charged visceral movement vocabulary that is strongly executed by the dancers. 

When I saw SLoE I was sitting on stage in seats not far from where Eve Egoyan was playing the piano and very close to the dancers. This created an intimacy with the dancers, having the music entering my body, hearing and feeling the dancers’ exhaustion and breathing, and seeing quite clearly their facial expressions. This close viewing prevented me from seeing the visual shapes and patterns that I would have seen had I been in the tiered seating in front of the dance.

Here is ia stream-of-consciousness look at what I saw and felt, ending with some personal lines of enquiry.

Dancers as musical notes embodied in their bodies like a life force, driving their movements, caught in repetitive interconnections of bodies meeting, colliding, sliding, whirling, arms lifting skywards, legs kicking out, bodies hurling to the floor. Pushing one into the others, slamming them into the floor, elongated pauses in which a dancer here and there gently lifts, caresses an exhausted other, touching their faces, registering concern. Fixing their gazes on each other, competitive, indifferent, enticing, judgemental, trying to make connections in moments no longer there.

Why does the domino effect of the interconnections call to mind pedestrian movement in the streets--bodies brushing against the other, no connections made in the fleeting moments, isolated and lonely figures in a crowd? Why do I feel their exhaustion, sense of frustration and impending death? What is the lone male dancer feeling? Does his presence raise gender issues? Why do I feel a sense of competitive gazes in relation to this male? Would there be a difference in the texture of the piano notes had a male played the piece? Is Southam's music and the breathing and footwork sounds of the dancers directing how her body reacts and feels, how her fingers hit the piano keys?

There is always a sense of aesthetics in the way Sasso uses the long, white floor and the wide space to emphasize the psychological and physical distance between them and us. Egoyan and the piano become periodic respites for the dancers, as they move around it slowly, as if drawn to the source that feeds and controls them, waiting for direction, gazing at each other as a group but alone.

Interesting how the title of this work raised questions from a gender and societal perspective. Result is compelling and visually arresting.