Ellen Furey (top), Simon Portigal, Amanda Acorn and Simon Renaud dance in loveloss.
Where does our love go? It's a question everyone ponders, especially at some of the sadder benchmarks of life - the end of a relationship, the death of a parent or friend. Dance is particularly adept at addressing the states of love and loss that define us. Choreographer Michael Trent tackles the subject with style in loveloss.
In Trent's set design, the audience is placed around a huge square of white paper, cork dust falling through three large funnels into equidistant piles. Hanging turntables at the edges emit crackly analog arias, but composer Christopher Willes actually sits away from the action, manipulating classical music samples and other sounds into rhythmic waves.
In contrast to the elegant visual and sonic landscape, the movement is individualized by each of the show's five performers. The choreographer's hand is only marginally in evidence as the group coalesces and splinters, kicking at and leaping through the dust, settling into stillness. The morphing relationships remain mysterious, yet movements by each of the dancers draw attention.
Ellen Furey, for example, channels some kind of 60s French pop icon with hunched shoulders and unfocused gaze. Robert Abubo stares upward while spinning first one way, then the other, taking a moment in between to focus his eyes and regain his balance.
It's part of Trent's methodology to allow the dancers the creative space to build a performance that organizes itself to a certain extent. I love the delicate personal calibrations that are often visible in such improvisations. However, I can't help wondering if a more powerful emotional impact might have been achieved had Trent been as precise in his choreographic direction as he has so clearly been in his design vision.
That said, loveloss is a meditation that prompts recognition and, with it, melancholy. The final image - the white paper floor untaped and crumpled to contain all the dust within, the cast-off clothes of the dancers heaped on top - is a metaphor that everyone in the room can relate to.