Fringe review: Love Notes

Smart musical choices and dynamic connections among the performers make this dance show a winner

LOVE NOTES by Sarah McLennan and company (ZESTCreative/Fringe). At the Factory Mainspace. July 6 at 8:15 pm, July 7 at 10:15 pm, July 10 at 8 pm, July 12 at 7:30 pm July 12 at 4 pm, July 14 at 2:15 pm. See listing. Rating: NNNN

The playlist construction is having a real moment in contemporary dance, whether proposing recorded popular music with a bit of dance grafted on, or onstage summits of dancers who sing and musicians that move. Love Notes takes that concept and applies next level craft in a drift-y and calming exploration of the love song.

The music ensemble of pianist Hannah Barstow, jazz vocalist, saxophone and flute player Emily Steinwall and Julien Bradley-Combs on guitar (he also serves as music director), meets the dance ensemble of Zoë Kenneally, Sarah McLennan and Eva Connelly-Miller squarely in the middle.

Their staged collaboration is sometimes as simple as group singing I’ll Be Seeing You while performing a shifting box step. Sometimes a gentle dissonance takes hold, and the work veers into experimental jazz territory. An all-hands scene that begins as a giggly cuddle puddle talking about grade six crushes morphs into an a capella and then instrumental rendition of the Elvis standard Can’t Help Falling in Love With You, is very beautiful.

If the dance choreography overall is slightly wispy for my personal taste, and the occasional spoken text a bit vague, the musical intelligence on display and the thoughtfully dynamic inter-connection between these six performers triggers accumulating rewards.

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