Remembering the Farewells (Olga Barrios Contemporary Dance) 2012 Toronto Fringe Review

Remembering the Farewells, part of this year’s Toronto Fringe Festival, takes the audience on a journey through the past. But hold on to your hats, because nothing is merely what it appears to be at first glance.

Olga Barrios reconstructs her past through a series of dances. A simple object, a dress, a sound, or even the tiniest movement can send her sailing through time, reliving the intensity of each moment.

The audience must decipher and interpret the numerous memories and experiences that are running through the play. There is hardly any dialogue in this production, so the audience must rely on their skills of deduction to interpret the performer’s emotions throughout each scene. By doing this, the viewer is able to deduce the growth and development of Barrios.

There are no exact interpretations that you are expected to discover, which some viewers may find discomforting and confusing. For example, there is one scene near the beginning where Barrios wears an evening party dress while dancing to music that sounds like both gunshots and dancing beats found in a bar. At one moment, I interpreted it as abuse in a bar scene, and in the next moment, I thought it related to growing up in a war scene.

It is the individual’s interpretation of the diverse range of music, and the dancer’s movements which will define the production you witness. This opportunity for interpretation allows each viewer to have a completely unique experience.

The most unique routine was a dance relationship that was produced with only two hands. You could see the introduction, seduction, romance, and tension that existed in that relationship, simply through the physical exchanges that occurred between the two hands. This routine was so simple, and yet I found it absolutely captivating to watch.

Barrios has a purposeful intensity to her dancing. Every movement is defined and placed with intention. These sharp actions make you admire the complex design and mobility of the human form. This was most apparent in the opening sequence. Every muscle is both orchestrated and manipulated to allow and restrain the body from discovering the space.

I enjoyed the fact that every costume article on stage was used to both enhance the visual space and evolve into another element to evolve the plot line. A circular cloth designated a space for discovering mobile possibilities, but then became a costume piece. Scarves danced with her and forced her to submit. The costumes allowed the scenes to transform.

Even the high heel shoes became a routine in themselves. Watching Barrios learn to walk in heels for the first time is a memory that will resonate with any woman in the audience. But they did not simply represent the chance to become a woman. Those shoes also encouraged memories of destroyed relationships, and loss.

Although the dancing was well staged and the lighting created sharp scene changes, I did find some problems with the upstage changeroom. There were certain moments near the beginning where Barrios seemed to be dressing without evolving her character.

There were also steps to avoid frontal nudity which seemed to create a slight misplaced interpretation that the character was uncomfortable with her body. That did not seemingly align with the rest of the storyline. However, these were minor moments that did not greatly detract from the overall experience.

Remembering the Farewells is a delightful performance that allows the audience to explore a journey through life. You may find that you also rediscover your own life’s adventures along the way.


  • Remembering the Farewells plays at Venue 9, Robert Gill Theatre, 214 College Street.
  • Showtimes are: July 06, Friday, 9:15 pm; July 08, Sunday, 4:30 pm; July 09, Monday, 10:30 pm; July 10, Tuesday, 10:45 pm;  July 11, Wednesday, noon; July 13, Friday, noon;  July 14, Saturday, 5:15 pm
  • All individual Fringe tickets are $10 at the door (cash only). Tickets are also available online at, by phone at 416-966-1062, or in person at The Randolph Centre for the Arts, 736 Bathurst Street (Advance tickets are $11 – $9+$2 service charge)
  • Value packs are available if you plan to see at least 5 shows