EXTRMINATING ANGEL by Alysa Pires. Al Green Theatre. July 5 at 7 pm, July 6 at 5:15 pm, July 8 at 9:45 pm, July 9 at 2:15 pm. Buy tickets. Rating NNNN
Inspired by the Buñuel film classic, Exterminating Angel explores erosions of civility. Using the conceit of a formal dinner party, this dance of (bad) manners features a cast of nine remarkable dancers dressed in evening wear and socks. The performers offer stately duets and thrilling ensemble work (some of it seated) in the early part of the evening, but the decorum soon unravels. There’s a culmination of sorts when a creepy assault turns into a community brawl.
Of the many movement highlights in this polished work, my favourites include a languishing dance in which Kelly Shaw repeatedly collapses and falters while three men surround and support her, and Michaela Reichenbach doing an angular bit of quiet grotesquerie amidst the wreckage of the night.
Awash in gesture and the intense physicality of group dynamics, things do get overwrought at times, but choreographer Alysa Pires and company never relinquish the solid choreographic framework they have built.
The piece keeps its shape right up until the perfectly cinematic ending. Brilliant.