I just spent an hour and a half watching dancers perform like insects. I’m still twitching sympathetically in response.
Peggy Baker returns to the Firehall Arts Centre for the first time in 12 years with two unforgettable companion pieces inspired by the mysterious, interconnected world of insects. coalesce & armour – an audio action tour (Jan 8 – 11) is a unique dance experience that incorporates a pre-show presentation by Baker, her trio coalesce performed to an electro-acoustic score by Debashis Sinha and Doug Varone’s duet armour which pairs Baker with Bessie Award winning dancer Larry Hahn.
You can ditch the first act altogether, which features a lecture, slideshow, and demonstrations of the movement to come. While I respect everything that goes into making a production like this, I’m of the opinion that the final work should be cohesive enough to stand on its own. Baker’s ‘audio action tour’ felt more like a stifling classroom lecture on the last day if school.
If dance is meant to set us free, then the first act had the effect of limiting the audience’s imagination for the performances to come.
Which is too bad, because when the dancers are finally allowed to, well, actually dance, it was truly unique and twisted. What coalesce & armour bring to the table is the depiction of the mature body on stage. Firehall Arts Centre continues its fine work of bringing curated depictions of new ways of telling stories. Just like Jacques and James last year, this production basked in its own imperfections. Mature bodies, asynchronous movement. When the teaching instincts got out of the way, coalesce & armour was allowed to set itself free.
I would only recommend coalesce & armour if you are a professional dancer or aspiring student. For the rest of us laypeople, I would much rather wait for more approachable work. Perhaps something will spark your interest at PuSh Festival later this month.
coalesce & armour – an audio action tour plays until January 11 at Firehall Arts Centre. Advanced tickets here.