From Thine Eyes is an ambitious piece of dance theatre and it is the first time I have seen a combination like this. Brought to us by DanceWorks, Signal Theatre and Native Earth Performing Arts and choreographed by Michael Greyeyes. The piece is an examination of several characters that are trying to find meaning in their life as they hover in the state between living and dying,reflecting on certain important ‘scenes’ of their lives. I would strongly recommend that you read the synopsis of the play beforehand, as I found it much easier to understand the piece when I knew what each story was about.
We begin with all six dancers on the stage in a haunting limbo place, which reminded me of an archeological dig. There are skulls and skeletons placed around the stage and the music adds to the eeriness.
We then break into our first story, the set was cleverly revealed to be the inside of a church and the other dancers continued silently in the background. This story is about a young man, played by Sean Ling, who violently beats a priest to death played by Michael Caldwell.
The jump from dance to dialogue took me a little by surprise but both performers were more than capable of the acting as well as the dancing. I felt the choice of this site as the first piece was an interesting one; it was about the young man who was reflecting on his life. I couldn’t get into the story, there was no understanding of the characters or the motivators and I was left with a feeling of why? Why this man and why this story?
The second site followed much the same direction, another violent piece but this time a husband beating a wife. The move into this piece was a little laborious and I am not sure that the time it took to move the set was worth the result. This story had less acting and was telling the story by a series of repeated dance movements.
I think that because it just followed a scene of violence I found it a little unrelenting and because of that I became disengaged with the piece. I also found myself asking the same questions, why this man and why this story? Are they asking for forgiveness and if so from whom? Of course it is great to ask questions throughout a piece but I found it a little frustrating. Though both dancers, Michael Caldwell again and Ceinwen Gobert, were faultless in their execution of the dance.
My favourite piece was the third. This time the set was worth the set up, encased in a white flowing backdrop a mother and father played out the scenes of losing children through miscarriage and imagining each child as if she had lived until she finally joins them on stage in a hopeful and joyful dance. The whole piece was beautiful; the costumes were perfect and the dancers, Luke Garwood and Shannon Litzenberger, were dynamic and filled with emotion. Litzenberger in particular was delightful to watch and I found this piece to be the most captivating.
The final scene featured Claudia Moore as a doctor who revisits cancer patients who have died in her care. Moore was also captivating to watch, the ease with which she moved around the stage was incredible and the simple costume change from patient to doctor to patient was very effective. I think I would have changed the order of the scenes but that is down to a personal choice of which scene resonated with me.
Overall I was interested by this piece and the combination of the dance and theatre, which was quite seamless. Unfortunately I couldn’t connect with all of the pieces and I had too many unanswered questions about the show, not that this is necessarily a bad thing but it did make me lose focus. However, some of the dancing was beautiful and the stories being told evoked a sadness in me and yet a desire to live more fully. I think that any theatre or dance that does that is worth it.
DanceWorks | DW190 | Signal Theatre present From Thine Eyes
September 22-24, 2011. 8pm & 2pm on Saturday
Enwave Theatre, Harbourfront Centre
231 Queens Quay West
Click here for tickets
Photo credit to Scarlett O’Neill