Review: SKOW (Citadel + Compagnie)

A full-length solo dance piece by Johanna Bergfelt takes the stage in Toronto

SKOW, an acronym for ‘some kind of wonder,’ is a full-length solo work performed by Johanna Bergfelt. Presented by Citadel + Compagnie, SKOW follows Bergfelt’s life and things that inspire a sense of wonder in her, as both a noun and a verb. A highly respected and established dancer and teacher, Bergfelt is paired with equally as high-profile choreographer William Yong of Zata Omm Dance Projects. As a fan of both artists, I jumped at a chance to see the work.

Walking into the theatre, you are greeted with an all white space. White marley floors are matched with a textured white paper backdrop and high hanging white panels for the side walls. Pillowy white lights and a few other items such as an old telephone are placed around the space. The production of the performance was spot on. Lighting design by Simon Rossiter mixed with video and visual projections by Elysha Poirier highlighted Bergfelt at all the right moments and seamlessly helps to shape different sequences or stories. Although Bergfelt was alone on stage, the presence of light or video created beautiful duet-like moments.

As expected, Bergfelt was a beautiful performer, with an intense focus and commitment to the work. I enjoyed most seeing her sequences of highly physical movement based on her strong technical skill. The performance jumps between humorous and ridiculous moments – such as a speech from a black cat asking the audience not to spit over their shoulder when they see her – to more serious moments – Bergfelt belting along to a track ‘I know a hundred ways to be a good girl, but still I’m alone’.

Although I enjoyed the production aspects of the performance and Bergfelt herself, the overall concept for the show is harder to grasp and share as it would sound. I would have loved to have been in the rehearsal process and to know more about Bergfelt to be able to better enjoy the performance.

Some moments I found myself frustrated as I knew there was an unknowable personal or intimate storyline but they would never last long enough to be able to grasp what was happening. Although the program states that the show is about inner musings without being too self-indulgent, I feel they should have picked a side – either to be fully invested in Bergfelt or the audience’s experience. I would have loved more time to bask in the performer’s concept of wonder and awe.

Details:

  • SKOW is playing at the Citadel: Ross Centre for Dance (304 Parliament Street).
  • SKOW is playing till February 2, 2019 at 8:00pm.
  • Tickets are $20 – $25, available online or by phone (416-364-8011 ext. 1).

Photo of Johanna Bergfelt, by William Yong.