Eunoia, based on the anthology by poet Christian Bök, is a fresh take on modern dance at Toronto’s Enwave Theatre
The evening started with a casual game of hangman, with the audience guessing letters and killing lots of stick figures–but somehow still managing to guess all the words. Eunoia has a gradual start, where really you are never sure when it has actually begun. Somewhere in the middle of our games the lights dimmed on Fujiwara Dance Inventions‘ new work in the Enwave theatre, and the show began.
The show works its way alphabetically through the vowels, each one taking on a very distinct characteristic. “A” started off the show with the dancers dressed all in black pants, and was a dash jazzy. “E” traced the Greek story of Helen, and saw a costume change into Greek dress. We also had a spot of Greek wrestling thrown in for good measure.
Eunoia really got swinging when we hit“I”. With a singing lady,”I” was a lovely and lyrical chapter. “I”,”O” and “U” seemed to have stronger intentions and direction behind the choreography. The choreography in the last chapters seemed calmer and more relaxed after the two energetic chapters “A” and “E”.
My show buddy for Eunoia was a musician and pointed out that composer Phil Strong kept to the vowel rule of Eunoia. This musical and auditory note is something that I would not have picked up on but made me appreciate the unity of work so much more. In their own way each of the designers followed the rules of Eunoia, making the work feel like a unified whole.
Eunoia, as described in the program, is the shortest word in the English language to contain all five vowels. It is also the name of an anthology of univocalic poems by Canadian poet Christian Bök. This anthology is the base from which Fujiwara has been working for the past four years with her team of entrancing and experienced dancers. The long term dedication to the development of work this work is evident in the level of detail and care in each section of the work.
Throughout the evening there was always a sense of play and lightness to the choreography, with popcorn being passed around and goofy photos making an appearance in “O” and an abstract sex scene in “U”. Eunoia used both the abstract and the literal when interpreting Bök’s poetry. The work is without question intelligent yet it also embraces the sense of play that Bök has written into each of the chapters. It is refreshing to see a work that takes on this challenge of differing ideas without being weighed down by being too serious. The result of having all these oppositions in play is a work that is constantly engaging, without being overwhelming.
- Eunoia is playing until March 22 at the Enwave Theatre ( 231 Queens Quay W)
- Shows run Wednesday to Saturday at 8pm
- Ticket prices are $39, and are available online, or through the box office at 416-973-4000, press 1
Photo Credit: Jeremy Mimnagh. Dancers L-R Lucy Rupert, Claudia Moore, Miko Sobreira, Rebecca Hope Terry, and Gerry Trentham.