Review: (Toronto / Dance) The Four Horsemen Project
Text, Sound, Poetry, Song by Jasmine Chen, Senior Contributor
“Language has been so misused by merchants, politicians, evangelists and materialists. Language has become abusive; sullied and souled by ulterior motives. Sound Poetry was an abandonment of language.” – Paul Dutton
This quote rings out with particular clarity in our contemporary society, when a single miscalculated comment can send the media into a frenzy or the twitterverse into a firestorm. When language can be manipulated towards different agendas, it is refreshing to step back from what we know as language. What the Four Horsemen and Volcano Theatre with Crooked Figure Dances and Global Mechanic are able to do is strip language of meaning so that we begin to listen to pure sound. When we begin to listen to sounds produced by the voice and human body, we stop relying on language to convey meaning. The result is a fully embodied form of expression that is exposed and surprising.
The Four Horsemen were four Toronto poets who came together in 1970 to create the first sound-poetry ensemble in the world. They experimented with text, sound, visual poems and song.
The Four Horsemen Project contains: laughing, sobbing, lip smacking, heaving, squeaking, squealing, cheek shaking, grunting, growling, heavy breathing and more. Part documentary, part dance, jazz, theatre, sound poetry, visual poetry and music; The Four Horsemen Project is a genre-breaking experiment in human expression. What it isn’t, is pretentious. The experience is playful and sometimes challenging. Kate Alton’s choreography feels perfectly tuned into the rhythm and spirit of Rafael Barreto-Rivera, Paul Dutton, Steve McCaffery and bp Nichols sound poetry inventions. ‘Interdisciplinary’ is a buzz word that gets thrown around a lot in the performing arts, but Volcano/Crooked Figure/Global have created the perfect alchemy of artistic discipline, form and stunning content. As an audience member, all that is required of you is to have an open mind – prepare to have your expectations shattered.