Serge bennathan's Just Words melds poetry and dance

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Just Words – Les Productions Figlio

April 27 – 30; Firehall Arts Centre

Serge Bennathan steps to the front of the Firehall stage, a spotlight on him as he picks up a sheet of paper. He reads off a letter that he wrote to fellow choreographer and dance artist Grant Strate who passed away in 2015. The letter shows his respect for Strate as he says “we need your grace” as well as his thoughts on the importance of dance as an art form.

In personal, reflective interludes, Bennathan spoke directly to the audience and shared parts of his life, his experience as an immigrant, his desire to write a blog, to choreograph chaos, and he even shared an original poem with us. His words coloured the choreography as Karissa Barry and Hilary Maxwell translated the words into dance. Aside from directing his Vancouver-based dance company, Les Productions Figlio, Bennathan is also a writer and painter, and with this latest work he wanted to express himself through words and speak poetically. The love poem he shared with us, in French and then in English, was full of beautiful imagery and romantic tension.

Barry and Maxwell, dressed in black pants, tank tops, and sneakers were at times dancing in synch and at times in opposition pushing against each other and throwing each other aside. The steady pace of the choreography was neither overly physical nor lacking in intensity, and Bennathan was able to augment his words through rigorous movements.    

Bennathan danced with Barry and Maxwell at a couple points during the show but for the most part he stood at the side of the bare stage while they danced, sometimes urging them on with directions such as “Vas-y,” and traded places with them to share more of his words. With fervent choreography and thoughtful poetic interludes, this show was much more than just words.

Photo courtesy of: Michael Slobodian 

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