Review: FLUENCY Tribal Crackling Wind (DanceWorks)

FLUENCY Tribal Crackling Wind is a show choreographed by Peter Chin which combines dance, documentary, lecture and talk show interviews in one show. It is driven by Chin’s social experiment of trying to become a Nicaraguan, and it touches on the issues that he has experienced in the process. This may sound like a haphazard structure for a performance, but in fact it helps provide a plethora of information to an otherwise uninformative dance performance.Chin, of Indonesian descent, was born in Jamaica and immigrated to Canada at a young age. He explains that throughout his life he has always felt like a foreigner. In this show we are taken on his journey of trying to become a Nicaraguan.

It begins with unique dance sequences by three of the characters. Once the talk show interview commences the premise of the play isand there is a lot of information presented. From here on in, there is a back and forth between dance and information sessions in the form of documentary, lecture, and more interviews.There are a few aspects of this play that I find to be overproduced or distracting. I think simplicity needs to be embraced here. There are many props and characters introduced immediately which I feel creates visual clutter from the very beginning. These take on meaning as the talk show commences, but that initial impression is quite overwhelming. The extra props – diorama and small TV screen – provide no new information that isn’t already presented in the backdrop projection; they became visual distractions for me.

Chin’s final dance is spectacular as he utilizes the grand space and backdrop to convey the vastness of nature. His dance is the sole focus and as he moves to the sounds of nature and fireworks; the message is conveyed eloquently. If the beginning dance sequence had been treated in the same way as the finale, I believe the show would have been more cohesive and elegant.

The perspective of the audience needs to be taken into consideration. There are several moments when the text on the screen is not visible from my particular position. There is a moment near the end where the backdrop is partially removed and the light from the projector shines brightly and distractingly from behind.

I am an immigrant to Canada and have experienced similar struggles of always being a foreigner. The message in this play resonates with me for this obvious reason. Being in an interracial relationship also provides a connection for me, especially when they speak of the complications of translation. This is not just in terms of language but also a cultural translation.

I was eager to hear my guest’s perspective as she is a Caucasian born in Canada. She too easily relates to this message as there is an abundance of multiculturalism in Toronto that we are all accustomed to interact with.

Although this piece is instigated by Chin’s relationship with Nicaragua, it deals with broader issues. In fact, it kick starts a relevant dialogue for most Canadians.

Details:

FLUENCY Tribal Crackling Wind, is playing at the Enwave Theatre (231 Queen’s Quay W.) until November 6.
– Performances are Saturday and Sunday 8pm.
– Ticket prices range from $15 to $28
– Tickets are available at the box office, by phone at 416-973-4000 or online

Photo: Peter Chin. Photo by Jeremy Mimnah