IN THE DEPTHS OF MY PALAIS choreographed by Ronald Taylor, designed by Christopher Pinheiro, with Taylor, Sharon Harvey, Rhoma Spencer, Denese Mitchell and Dondrub Wangchuk. Presented by Canboulay Dance Theatre and Artword Theatre at Artword, December 13-16. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
walking from a snowstorm into the warmth, colour and energy of a Caribbean festival is a welcome shock for an audience. But though Canboulay Dance Theatre's In The Depths Of My Palais has spirit aplenty, an intriguing first half gives way to a second that needs editing and rethinking.
Festooned with Christopher Pinheiro's many-hued hangings, the Artword Theatre lobby sets the tone for the evening, beginning with rituals of cleansing and welcome -- the audience, wearing red headbands, participate with the white-garbed company in dance and chant -- and an invitation into the performing space.
Artistic director Ronald Taylor's Songs My Mother Taught Me, blending a well-known Dvorak melody with the sounds of the steel pan, becomes a celebration both of his own mother and his African Caribbean culture, with a dreamlike stilt-walker providing Taylor a partner for a pas de deux.
Here and elsewhere in the first act, passion and energy mark the choreography; a tribute to Caribbean dance legend Beryl McBernie, performed by Sharon Harvey, is a standout. The occasional text honours calypso, the pan-man and the nourishing plantain.
The second half, though, moves into a more contemporary world. Here, the words clash with rather than connect to the dance, and even the movement -- especially the group work -- has a superficial quality.
The choreography for one or two people has a sensual, direct appeal -- Denese Mitchell and Dondrub Wangchuk burn up the stage at one point -- but the corps work resembles uninspired Broadway material.
Even the false-step choreography, though, can't detract from the toe-tapping, hip-swinging joy of the music.IN THE DEPTHS OF MY PALAIS choreographed by Ronald Taylor, designed by Christopher Pinheiro, with Taylor, Sharon Harvey, Rhoma Spencer, Denese Mitchell and Dondrub Wangchuk. Presented by Canboulay Dance Theatre and Artword Theatre at Artword, December 13-16.