Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Zata Omm Dance Projects' STEER: a dreamer's visceral responses to the dress rehearsal.

I had the distinct privilege this evening to sit in on the dress rehearsal of William Yong, Jerome Delapierre and Navid Navab's collaborative performance work "Steer", the child of Zata Omm Dance Projects and produced with Harbourfront Centre's World Stage.

On my way to this rehearsal, I gave myself the challenge of coming up with three words that describe my impressions of William's creative works. It wasn't much of a challenge as meticulous, imaginative and spiritual popped right up and seemed immediately correct.

I wanted to see how this new creation would lie with these three words.

What I offer below is a bit of a stream-of-consciousness during the run of this tenuous, tender and tremulous new work. This is my visceral response as scribbled in ink on a page I could not see while the universe unfolded before me.


William Yong in Steer. Photo by David Hou


Before it even starts, it starts. Watching the "light walker" (James Kendal) is a performance itself. He is the perfect body double, down to the hair cut and understanding of movement, of what William is trying to accomplish. 

Words fly, questions float. Then silence. Concentrated silence. There are so many sensors and elements to coordinate and stabilize and then perhaps give a little prayer for....the precariousness of technical involvements like these are well-known to me from working on Denise Fujiwara's EUNOIA. And I suspect this will go beyond those parameters.

We begin.
Whispers between the various designers only add to the intrigue of the beginning.
This is not a solo dance performance. This is an intertwining of many visions into an interactive animal. A multi-eyed chameleon: each eyeball can move independently but all with goal of keeping the lizard alive. (Sheesh, Lucy that's a weird one...)

Bone structure. William's face changes immensely as he shifts through light. In person, in projection. He is utterly different at every angle.

Shadow and light, illuminating and obscuring a single recognizable form....it becomes so many other things, other moods, other rhythms. A naked body becomes a Rorschach blot.

I am already seeing a macrocosm becoming a microcosm and vice versa. I am not sure where we are. This is a new life, a new kind of evolution. These are elements we haven't discovered yet. Ones that exist only in the quantum world, liquid metals, particle-ized creatures.

No one else could be these creatures but William. Otherworldly, impossibly beautiful. These are unknown compounds creating a new universe. The extensions outside his body are the extensions of his heart, his physiology, bodily processes become particles in motion on the macro-scale.

A man in change, in the testing ground of new elements, new materials, a new sense of dimension.

I want to watch it sideways. I tilt my head. It works.

I am reminded of how important the hands, chest and face are even when the limbs are doing gravity-defying things. We want to see the human parts, the parts of communication. 

Now the self is the overlord. Awkward, relentless and brutal.

It is a series of memories, not appearing in chronological order. What is chronology here, anyway? What is transparency? In performance, in matter?

There is something Edward Scissorhands-ish about this creature. It's not just the suit. It's the alien aspect of him. He is an outsider we can all relate to because he looks the way our insides feel. Distracted,  pulled in many directions, perhaps confused. We know him very well before we even meet him.

We are scrolling through the upper levels of consciousness. And there is still a beast within this machine. Ferocious, pathetic.

This is how we might envision ourselves in code.
No.
This is how code might envision a 'self'.

What is a self? A collection of memories, out of order, deconstructed into particles and reformed in the shape of someone we knew?

I am struck -- amid the whirl of sounds, visuals, movement, all painting the air with heavy strokes -- by the silence of the body as it moves. I do not hear a single footfall.

****
See the world premiere of Steer this week at Harbourfront Centre.

Steer

Zata Omm Dance Projects 

Fleck Dance Theatre

Performed by William Yong and created with Jérôme Delapierre and Navid Navab.
Produced with Harbourfront Centre’s World Stage
  • Wed, May 11  8pm
  • Thu, May 12  8pm
  • Fri, May 13  8pm
  • Sat, May 14 8pm

tickets: www.harbourfrontcentre.com

www.zataomm.org