Friday, June 6, 2014

Review: (Ottawa/ Montreal / Dance) Room With Sticks

(photo by Rod MacIvor)
Wait for it…
by Chad Dembski

Patience is a difficult task for an audience member in this day and age.  In a time where we expect instant messages, instant food, and instant entertainment it can be extremely challenging to be put through a slow evolving show.  Room with Sticks is a unique collaboration between choreographer Tedd Robinson, who is based just outside Ottawa and Ame Henderson who is an artist that runs Toronto based Public Recordings. They began collaborating a few years ago and their research is mixed with sound artist Charles Quevillon who has been working with Tedd Robinson for quite a few years.  

The aesthetic is intriguing as you walk in. One far wall is completely covered in white paper and lit by fluorescent bulbs. The rest of the space is partly filled with wooden log blocks and sticks are pushed against the back wall.  A slow developing piece with no sound, two dancers begin quietly in the white papered part of the stage and seem to be communicating without words. At first, their movements seem to be completely random but reveal a certain sensing of the space. While genuine in its focus, these acts did not engage me very much, they seemed rooted in research and development more then anything else. Eventually performer Ame Henderson heads outside to begin bringing in white logs that starts the re-building of short trees. Sound artist Charles Quevillon has by this time begun to enter the space by manipulating the sound with a branch he is swinging. He wears dark sunglasses that make him look like a shirtless member of the X-Men with a taste for experimental music. Tedd Robinson sits on a white bench covered in paper for a good 20-30 minutes before coming over to the wooden blocks and placing objects on them. While there is certainly a zen element to his actions they also seem mundane and arbitrary. Still through boredom the element of surprise is always a treat and at one random point Charles comes racing in on a skateboard and breaks the meditative tone of the piece.  
“It’s all about the desert”, said a fellow audience member last night and I couldn’t have agreed more. The ending to Room with Sticks is fantastic and does build in all the seemingly separate elements together in a strong fusion. While a trying show at times and not an always pleasurable experience it still has a lot to offer the patient audience member who is willing to go along on its journey.

It will also play in Ottawa June 14 and 15 

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