Live Art delivers a forceful finale

Baker stunning in season-ender that featured diversity of local talent, styles

Rhonda Baker showed stamina and strength in her 17-minute solo as she danced Sharon Moore’s choreography Nutshell in its world premiere at the Sir James Dunn Theatre in Halifax as part of Live Art Dance’s last shows of the season Thursday.

A compilation of local talent, it brought together the seasoned contemporary company Mocean and the fresh urban hip-hop group, the Woods. The wide span of styles showed the diversity of homegrown talent and paid homage to Canada’s national dance week.

Baker appeared as a body of sinewy muscles, aside from a small suit of orangish yellow shorts and top — the same hue of the stage lighting, her auburn hair and the ribbons used to tie back the curtains. The only anomaly to the colour scheme was a small green suitcase sitting centre stage.

This is what was viewed, but the performance revealed a person’s most private actions and thoughts — what occurs when we are alone.

A technically challenging piece, the contemporary number saw Baker transition between difficult movements with ease.

She stayed in character the entire time, slamming her body into the floor, contorting it with amazing control and muttering to herself in animated conversation. The message of the piece did not become completely clear until she smashed open the suitcase and adorned herself with items, making the audience act as a mirror.

The squeak of sneakers on the floor’s surface opened the show as Alexis Cormier and her troupe of 12 “trees” presented Sinnerman, Stars and Fly Guy. The themes of the three pieces differed as did the style of hip hop, proving not all needs to be hard-hitting, as Stars could have been considered lyrical.

The youthful group appeared to become more comfortable on stage as the show progressed, as blank expressions on some faces — stamped with upside down triangles in the first number — filled out with appropriate attitude by the third.

Their costumes mainly consisted of street clothing. During their finale, Fly Guy, harem pants and loud crop tops under flowing shirts were worn, and the troupe danced and looked their most fierce.

Hip hop is a lifestyle, and the group appeared at home.

Sarah Rozee started the Canadian premiere of Sara Coffin’s Body Abandoned as a single dancer under a square of sci-fi-esque light while electronic sounds played in the background.

The piece explored the relationship of our interaction with technology, and Rozee was joined on stage by Baker and Jacinte Armstrong. All wore variations of white suits with different mesh designs, and accents of wire alluded to the disconnection that comes with virtual connection.

The stage was broken into two distinct spaces as parallel projection screens, created by multimedia designer Andrew Hawryshkewich, showed heavily processed images of the dancers mimicking their movements.

Originally appearing as ethereal beings made purely of light, these were converted into colourful images that stripped the skin of the dancer, revealing muscles while a heartbeat was heard.

A grounded dance, it was highly connected as the individual and collective was a sub-topic considered, with the dancers performing solos and also clinging to one another’s limbs.

Coffin leaves the audience with the dancers lying languid after considering their spiritual, physical and virtual selves. The conceptually convoluted piece ended calmly with natural sounds as the simulated body exited the stage.


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