In Penumbra kicks off Vancouver International Dance Festival

The Vancouver International Dance Festival opened with the world premiere of Kinesis Dance somatheatro’s In Penumbra. 

The performance starts with 5 dancers climbing down a ladder from the sound booth of the Scotiabank Dance Centre, into a room set with many lightbulbs, a microphone, and chairs placed around the edges for the audience. The show felt like it was designed to be seen from every perspective, but the projections weren’t visible for half of the audience in the round which was a bit unfortunate.

One section, loosely titled “Fuck, Let’s Kiss” in choreographer Paras Terezakis’s notes, felt like the best way to sum up this whole show. One man and woman are robotically kissing through a piece of clothing wrapped around his face; another couple is curled on the floor, whispering and writhing over each other; and another man is flapping a cape behind him. Although evocative of people’s differing experiences in sex, it failed to elicit much additional meaning. It felt overly performative – as though it was trying to prove artistry and abstraction above anything else.

Other moments when music was on and everyone came together in more classic styles of dance produced beautiful performances with quite lovely choreography. It’s clear that all dancers were highly talented and cared deeply about their show, they each managed to create highly unique characters within their roles, I just didn’t connect.

In the end, I couldn’t decide how to feel. The audience was standing and clapping – not because they opted to give a standing ovation, but because they were removed from their seats 10 minutes prior. The dancers continued but stagehands and the choreographer began packing up chairs and removing all the prop lights at the same time. What does that mean?

Tickets for all VIDF performances can be found here, and check back soon for my top 5 to watch!