Saturday, October 11, 2008

Xing Dance Theater - White

White took the stage as a struggle between light and dark, at the Betty Oliphant Theatre Tonight. The beautifully moving piece depicts a life struggle into white – purity, innocence, & beauty – from the dark place where life begins. Choreographer and dancer Xing Bang Fu drew on his dynamic, eclectic style to captivate the audience through his struggles in darkness and his journey through the ups and downs of finding white.
White features renowned soloist Xing Bang Fu, whose Butoh-inspired signature and dramatic stagecraft took the audience on spellbinding journey. The poetic imagery mirrored life and the emotional growth of people and their internal struggles. Beautifully textured, sacred and haunting, the surreal atmosphere spoke to ritual while digging the roots of a visceral physicality. As a fragile and powerful as a dream, this new work was awe-inspiring experience, supported by a cast including Jelani Ade Douglas, Byron Beckford and Sze-Yang Lam, Xing Dance Theatre’s unique fusion of eastern and western movement disciplines blends aesthetics to create bold and enchanting metaphors.
Had to shoot this as they prepare to take their bows... Yeah I know its not allowed but hey, I waited till they were done...

Here is my review: I have seen many dance presentations in my life... Dance Theater of Harlem, Alvin Ailey, Ballet Creole here in Toronto and tonight I have seen something new at least for me. In the opening segment Xing Bang Fu is painted in all white giving him an other worldly look. The music is strangely reminiscent of and old Stanley Kubrick film or perhaps George Lucas's THX1138, certainly the look of Xing laying prone on a bed of light as a sphere rises above him is reminiscent of a time yet to come. The dance is in literal slow motion and I can only imagine the pain the dancer is in moving mere inches a second, mussels straining to keep a pose that slowly changes, no... metamorphoses into the next pose. This human seems trapped in a vexing moment in time, slowly emerging into his humanity. When the other dancers emerge in the second segment they too are at first slowly transforming in their movements. Their physicality is punctuated by intense light which seems to sow each mussel in the body moving in syncopation and the music score is only intensifying the movement. It's here where I begin to feel connected to the dancers and their transformation. Xing is both eastern and western influenced and one can not help but to be drawn into a trance as you watch this. For me it is taken to yet another level as I am personally familiar with several of the dancers yet in this moment I have lost the connection I have with them as they are familiar yet too become other worldly. In subsequent segments of the the performance the pace of the dance become frenetic and more familiar to me, more western and modern in dance form. At one point the leaps from Lam, Douglas and Beckford come so quickly one wonders where they find the energy to keep it going. Leaps followed by crashes to the floor followed by yet more leaps keeps the theme of the dance through out. In the final movement of this piece the visual imagery leaves the expected and goes into the surreal. Xing enters the stage with a single high intensity light beginning to glow... but wait there is a sound like small pellets hitting the floor, perhaps water at first but then more solid. As the light intensifies the pellets become visible and begin to fall rapidly from a place 40 feet above the stage, faster and harder they begin to spread in the beam of light as Xing moves towards the stream in curious repose. He enters the stream as the other dancer enter the stage and small fluttering reflective strips of paper fall from the air by the thousands.. at first they look like moths to a flame or perhaps feathers, commonly found in anime but then their number grows into a storm of paper.. at one point in the silence between music pieces one can here the pellets and the paper hitting the floor as if it were 100,000 pin drops simultaneously! It's this moment of genius that one gets that the the point of the whole piece... it has tapped into the senses of everyone in the audience and driven each and everyone of them into the same point of awareness, the audience is in the moment... a human moment with out words or expression. I guarantee everyone left with a measure of awe, not quite sure what about them that was tapped into but knowing that they have shared a common feeling with each the dancers and each other. White is an audacious first step in a trilogy of dances and I can only hope that the other two in the series live up to the performance tonight!

Here is some video of a practice session for White

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