2016 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: Urban Myth (BreakinGround)

Photo of Urban Myth

Dance takes on a narrative flow in BreakinGround’s Urban Myth playing at the Factory Theatre Mainspace as part of the 2016 Next Stage Theatre Festival.

Unfortunately, tight footwork and high energy doesn’t quite give seven dance vignettes the chance to take off.

Urban Myth is a show that might be better suited to straight up dance lovers than an in-between or non-dance audience. Instead of coming away feeling awed by the dancers, I found myself distracted by choreography that struggled to overcome its own creative structure.

Think of it as a showcase, with each segment presenting different dance combinations through a single story by different choreographers. The themes covered everything from superhero identities, to the apocalypse, to class struggle, to domestic abuse. It’s an idea that delivers some incredible moments but, on the whole, doesn’t mesh as well as it should.

I don’t think it’s surprising that my favourite vignettes are the ones that rely strictly on the talent of the performers. The final piece, ‘Good People/Bad Things’, may have been a little overcrowded in the story it was trying to tell, but I can’t quite describe the beauty in its scenes. One particular character uses a noose in a riveting bit of movement.

Meanwhile, ‘A Siren Sound’, performed by Caroline ‘Lady C’ Fraser, was a straight up dance that was liquid in its execution and impossible to look away from.

But for the most part, you have to wade through a lot of extra that focuses on linear ‘stories’ that feel uninspired and overemphasized.

This might be biased, but I love dance because it refuses to spell out its intent. Urban Myth relies heavily on props and sound effects in a way that detracts from the dancer’s ability to connect with the audience.

Take, for example, the dance ‘Apocalypse’. Inspired by the film I Am Legend, it relied heavily on sound bites from the film to explain the premise. Those moments of dialogue interrupted the flow from performer to performer and felt, to me, like it was trying to spoon feed the audience the overarching plot and message.

I trust the dancers to take me where I need to go, but in certain pieces, it felt like they didn’t quite trust themselves.

As a showcase, it works. You get to see a lot of different styles and creative visions so there will at least be something for everyone. I just wish Urban Myth had come together a bit more memorably.


Photo of Amadeus “Primal” Marquez by Tanja Tiziana