In 1999, Toronto-based Heidi Strauss and Darryl Tracy founded Four Chambers Dance Project to treat matters of the heart through dance. Their latest program, Aflutter (April 7 to 9 at Harbourfront), was rich and polished, but some white noise and apparently unintentional clicks in the sound were distracting.
Strauss's and Tracy's world-premiere performance of Prague-based choreographic duo Deja Donne 's Rustling Shadows revealed a witty, fast-paced series of exchanges, dares and pausing portraits. Childlike romping and goofiness, right down to scatological references and an unusual final touch involving water, made it the most surprising of the program's three works.
In her autobiographical AtLast , Strauss related the experience of returning to her father's hometown in the former East Germany. Strauss is one of those special performers who seems effortlessly focused, never strained or predictable. The decision to tell this very personal account through movement and an intermittent third-person narrative gave it a simplicity and emotional distance that seemed shy and spare. Without the program notes, it was easy to assume that the story was either pure fiction or someone else's, which ultimately weakened its overall effect.
Sylvain Emard 's remounted Comme Deux Solitudes (2001) initially seemed to show the post-party exchange of a lonely bourgeois couple. However, seriousness quickly dissolved into an irreverent frolic during which hands turned lolling heads, legs pulled along unsuspecting torsos and waltzes used unorthodox partnering. A witty pleasure.
Founded in Buenos Aires in 1989, Brenda Angiel Dance Company kept its feet on the ground until 1994, when it adopted the use of bungees and cables to allow further choreographic innovation. The dancers - three women and two men - are attached alternately to either fixed-length cables or bungees that hook onto the front of their hips, their backs or a foot or wrist.
Their quartet of works at Premiere Dance Theatre (April 5 to 9) was set to memorably groovy music that resembled wordless Archive or Portishead infused with some Latin rhythms.
Angiel's impeccably rehearsed troupe puts one of my childhood fantasies onstage. While I may have soared only briefly before splitting my lip on the lawn chair under the clothes line, these dancers make synchronized halts in mid-air look easy.
A cinch to enjoy, the show floated along aimlessly, making it a challenge to see where one piece ended and the next began. It was dance for dance's sake, pretty and fun. No emotional investment was required onstage or off.