Review: Post No Bills (Harbourfront Torque/Kitt Johnson X-Act)

Danish Choreographer Kitt Johnson returns to Toronto to present a new dance show

It was the alluring and distorted promotional picture of Danish Choreographer and Dancer Kitt Johnson that caught my eye. The image of Johnson in somewhat of a contortion dressed in a white tank top and a ski mask piqued my curiosity. I wanted to get to know the mysterious person behind the mask. And as her show Post No Bills began, I found myself yearning to learn more about Johnson’s unique contemporary dance style as she purposefully stepped on to the Harbourfront Centre Theatre stage allowing the audience into her world.

Johnson’s contemporary style in Post No Bills was precise, minimalistic and intricate. She moved across the well-lit stage with ease and focus. All the while, leaving audience members interested in every gesture she made. What I found particularly intriguing was how Johnson would effortlessly capture the audience’s attention by just showing her eyes and lips through a ski mask she wore for most of the performance. Her intense gaze and frown left me unsettled and at the edge of my seat. If that was the intention, it certainly was met.

There were quite a few standout moments in Post No Bills. The first one was when Johnson peeled of one of her gloves giving us a glimpse of her hand. That was the first time she really started to let the audience see her. I found this gesture a simple but powerful invitation for audiences to begin to feel her vs. just watching her. The uncovering of her hand expressed an openness and a vulnerability. During her movement, her hand became the focal point as it moved across her body and face. Another highlight was Johnson’s finger gestures. The mesmerizing gestures made me think of an emerging butterfly moving from darkness into light. I found her play with water in the show symbolized something similar. The re-birth into a new beginning.

This was not Johnson’s first time in Toronto. We were lucky to have her back in the city again to showcase her award-winning work. I had a chance to meet her during her masterclass session a few days before the performance. When asked what inspired her to create the show, she replied, “The concept was sparked by the big financial crisis that took its beginning in 2008. Also our environmental crisis is a big concern of mine. In my research for the piece I tried to map down the basic dynamics of the phenomenon of crisis and to embrace it as a something positive that invites you to rethink your existence, to create a new beginning, to step up and take action.”

Post No Bills is one of five women-led dance pieces Harbourfront Centre Theatre is bringing on stage as part of the Torque showcase. As mentioned in the booklet, Torque represents humanity’s will to survive and thrive against conflicting forces. Kitt Johnson certainly embodied that representation in her performance, Post No Bills.

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Photo of Kitt Johnson by Per Morten Abrahamsen

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