Review: Toi, La Maladie (YOHURA)

Toi, La Maladie by YOHURA is a forty-five-minute presentation of dance and circus work revolving around the break-up of its two main creators and performers. The pair are joined by three other artists – with training in bondage, belly dancing and burlesque – at the studio space in Alumnae Theatre.

Ren Datura is a self-taught dancer and neo-burlesque artist from Toronto, who narrates the performance through recordings amplified in the space. At times she is audibly joined by french-speaking ex-partner Yohan Durand. However, the recordings mostly express her pain in their break-up.

Durand is a self-taught diaboliste, based out of Lyon, France. Both Datura and Durand perform solos to their strengths, as well as a duet, which are interspersed with pieces by guest performers.

Unfortunately, the performance is in the nicest term – awkwardly amateur. There is a lack of flow and momentum through the entire production and its solos. The emotion felt forced by everyone but Datura. Most of the performers lacked technical skill within the style they were performing. Some performers brought props on stage (such as a rope or chair), however their use of the item always seems to fall short and lacked any type of grace or mastery.

I feel the piece would have been best staying as a duet from Datura and Durand, as it was during its last run in the Camden 2019 Fringe Festival. Or, even reworked as a solo performance by Datura as it is mainly her story to tell. The writing and audio from her were strong, especially at the end of the performance when she speaks personally to the audience instead of through the studio speakers.

Although there were some beautiful moments and images in the work, and it is neat to see dance mixed with the artistry of a diaboliste, I feel the work would benefit from the help of a dramaturg or another such outside eye.


Photo by Skins Eliott Photography