Kidd Pivot Frankfurt RM’s “The You Show” at Festival Transamériques

The You Show. Photo: Alex Mattar

I wish I could move like the dancers in Kidd Pivot’s new production The You Show, from Canadian choreographer Crystal Pite. They seem weightless, bringing a sense of ease to even the most complex choreography. The You Show is playing at Montreal’s Festival Transamériques for two more nights–June 10 and 11, 2011 at Usine C.

Crystal Pite is known for the theatricality that she brings to her choreography. While The You Show is no exception, it is still primarily a performance of contemporary dance. The program features four very distinct pieces, each one a duet that offers a portrait of a relationship. The dancers are all incredible – they are so comfortable in their movement that even the most difficult choreography seems natural and simple.

The first duet A Picture of You Falling uses a voice-over that address the performer and the audience together by speaking in second person: “this is a picture of you falling….” At first the voice borders on objective, a choice that I felt belied the simplicity and tenderness of the choreography. Gradually, however, the narration softens, finding greater depth and texture. While I thought the voice-over added to the dance, I thought that less narration would have been more effective.

The Other You “is a male duet about identity.” The two dancers are almost identical, with shaved heads and matching black suits. They begin the piece with a mirroring routine that, though I must have done that same routine thousands of times, almost had me convinced that a mirror had been brought on stage. Through the piece they manipulate each other’s bodies, both physically and from a distance. While the piece is incredibly playful, they maintain a lonely tension throughout, provoking each other into physical argument.

The Glass House is the least theatrical of the four pieces. While the dancers move beautifully through the very demanding choreography, I felt that the piece lacked a certain something. The soundtrack was full of breaking glass but I felt that the piece was supposed to have a danger within it that didn’t quite come across. One incredible moment stood out for me: the male dancer rolled slowly through a shrinking spotlight to the sound of crunching glass. I’m sure I was not the only one in the audience to react viscerally to this moment.

The final piece, A Picture of You Flying, significantly changed the tone of the evening. While still a duet about a relationship on the verge of self-destruction, A Picture of You Flying takes the battle literally. The male lead sees himself as an (undefined) superhero, using his secret identity to avoid relationship problems. The entire ensemble joins this duet as the world that he must fight off and/or save. Unable to avoid confrontation, the man and woman transform into robots (Transformers, I suppose?) that battle, the ensemble become their extended bodies. Finally, dropping the physical extensions and disguises, they perform a solo duet before the relationship falls apart. The piece is playful and inventive and had the audience giggling and chortling out loud. I kept thinking that if this kind of dance could be brought into schools, it would impress and astonish everyone that thinks contemporary dance is exclusive or inaccessible.

Robert Sondergaard’s lighting design is stunning, simple yet layered. While the lighting stood out in all of the pieces, I thought that it was particularly effective in A Picture of You Falling. A circle of spotlights rose and fell on the two dancers at turns isolating them and bringing them together with complete precision.

I found The You Show as a whole to be somewhat uneven. I was blown away by the first half: A Picture of You Falling and The Other You. But A Glass House was left me a little cold and, while I absolutely loved A Picture of You Flying for its cleverness and irreverence, it felt out of place in the program.

Festival Transamériques, 5th Edition
May 26 – June 11, 2011
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

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