Amorous Playlist at The Citadel

 

 Amorous Playlist

Choreographer: Social Growl Dance / Riley Sims in collaboration with the performers

Live music performed by Blunt Chunks, singer-songwriter Caitlin Woelft-O'Brien

Danced by Clarke Blair, Ana Groppler, Jean-Benoit Labrecque, Kay Kenney, Genevieve Robitaille, Riley Sims

Social Growl at The Citadel, Toronto

Reviewed by Ted Fox & Beverley Daurio 

 

The set is like a bar with a dance floor—in fact, there is an actual bar on one side, where the performers pick up cans of beer and drink them. The audience sits on the sidelines in a horseshoe shape around the composer/ singer with her guitar, mic, and electronic sound equipment.

 

Amorous Playlist is aptly titled: the show is basically a concert by Blunt Chunks (the one-woman band of singer-songwriter Caitlin Woelft-O'Brien), fronted by programmatic dance performances that express the songs physically, extending their meaning into and through the dancers’ bodies.

 

Woelft-O'Brien is a powerful performer (and former dancer) who occasionally drifts to different parts of the stage to perform songs, once sitting on the floor among dancers with her guitar, once standing far from the stage proper. Her songs are twee and heartfelt, with charming, sharp and bittersweet lyrics, peppered with Canadian ironies and twists. Her voice is high and light as thin steel wire, and holds the entire show together.

 

In the dance performance, we see the coming together of real people, the fragile, the lonely and the vulnerable. Survivors of previous relationships.

 

They dance solo, in duets, in threes, as a group, in different combinations of love, loneliness, connection and rejection. There is quite a bit of anger verging on violence in the dance in this work, which is interesting and unusual. They drink beer, interact, are expressive, and slowly build a kind of shrine to past relationships with kitsch and flowers and meaningful objects, on risers up behind where Woelft-O'Brien has set up to play. Their body language consists of a wide variety of desirous movement and moments of dislike, from embraces to shoves to reaching out skyward as a group, and to each other.

 

Woelft-O'Brien’s lyrics, like the dancers’ body language, are permeated with melancholy, sadness and frustration. Example:

 

My love, my lover, my love says he is unable to move

Depressed with no humour left in him.

He lays in his underwear, on the unmade bed feeling so bad

As my heart sinks I feel so sad,

because

He doesn't wanna move, and all I wanna do is get out.

 

This last is repeated three times, as many of the lyrics are, reflecting repetitive futile existence, and the locks and delights and private traps of love and relationships.