Choreographer Erin Hill does a fine job turning complex scientific inspiration into art in Radio Project, playing with Until Tender Crisp II as a part of the SummerWorks Dance series. Narrated and deejayed in the form of a radio show by Hill, the piece for two dancers merged scenes evoking the nostalgia of listening to the radio with choreography that mirrored the movement of the invisible but ubiquitous sound waves that surrounds us.
Hill also explores the connection between movement and sound by having the dancers create their own electromagnetic scores. Throughout the piece, the dancers experimented with creating electric wave sounds by swinging or waving vintage radios and Walkmans that hung from two metal chains on stage.
Sometimes the dancers would solo in Radio Project like sine waves but more frequently they encircled and rotated around each other in legato like the more common overlapping waves. The connection by touch was a nice representation of how not only are we surrounded by these invisible waves all the time, but we also attract these waves by being electrical conductors ourselves.
While I found the piece very interesting and thought-provoking, both my companion and I felt that the performances and narration lacked passion. While it could have been a stylistic choice due to the neutrality and universality of the subject matter, I thought that the (sometimes grating) static-heavy accompaniment would have been balanced better with more compelling performances. I also noticed that some of Hill’s narration could have been better timed to hide the times when the dancers had to awkwardly hang the machines onto the metal chains.
As mentioned by the curatorial note in the program, Christy Stoeten’s Until Tender Crisp II, playing with Radio Project as a part of the SummerWorks Dance series, also explores recorded sound and the idea of memory. Surrounded by a circle of egg timers, Stoeten repeats a contemporary and hip hop-inspired routine to the sound of ticking, electronic pop songs, and anecdotes from Stoeten’s childhood. At some point during the performance, she takes a break and eats an orange slice.
Like Radio Project, I thought that the ideas of the piece was very clearly reflected in the choreography and staging. Stoeten explores how repetition changes our perceptions and, indeed, every time she repeated her routine I felt like she added something new or her tempo changed, but it was still ambiguous. Through repeating the choreography and the narration of humourous memories, she also asks us to ask ourselves a similar question about the recollection of memory and how our perceptions or experiences can change every time we try to remember.
Stoeten certainly danced with more energy, which was expected considering the personal nature of her piece; however, I was confused by moments when the beginning of songs and the timer alarms didn’t line up with the start of the routine. I felt like she was trying to communicate something about the nature of time and movement but I couldn’t really figure out what it was.
Radio Project and Until Tender Crisp are both very thoughtfully and beautifully choreographed works that dealt with interesting subject matter, but I felt like I couldn’t understand everything that the creators were trying to convey.
Individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Live Art Series tickets are free – $20. Tickets are available online at http://summerworks.ca, by phone at 888-328-8384, Monday – Friday 8:30am-5pm, in person at the SummerWorks Info Booth – located at SummerWorks Central Box Office – located at Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst St). Open August 4-16 from 10am-7pm (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee).
Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows.
Photo provided by the company.