Ballet BC's resident choreographer presents world premiere

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Eight Years of Silence by Cayetano Soto and B.R.I.S.A. by Johan Inger | Ballet BC | Queen Elizabeth Theatre | November 2 – 4, 2017

Ballet BC resident choreographer Cayetano Soto has transformed his fears into beautiful movement. As he explains in an interview included in the performance’s program, he looked back on a period of his life where he held many doubts and fear and put them to rest by creating this piece of choreography.

What stands out most to me in Soto’s choreography is the legs. He has a way of emphasizing them throughout his works with sharp, lengthy movements that evoke insect imagery. The costumes for this world premiere of Eight Years of Silence help to show them off further with all the dancers wearing metallic long sleeved leotards and nothing on their legs.

Formatted in individual scenes, the work featured slow, deliberate floor work and Soto’s trademark innovative lifts and partnering. Between scenes the curtain came down, fooling a few into thinking the piece was complete. These definitive breaks in the action didn’t seem necessary as what followed was often similar. After a duet in silence and a fast-paced trio of urgency, a large cluster of dancers lifted Emily Chessa up and carried her across the stage. In the final scene, one dancer is left centre stage like an upturned insect in shock and another walks calmly off.   

Remembered for Walking Mad, the last work of his presented by Ballet BC, Johan Inger has created another amusing narrative work that elicited many laughs from the audience. A screen of strings hangs across the front of the stage and fog fills the space as a few dancers shuffle around a large carpet. When a dancer is pulled out from under the carpet, we realize what was causing the large bump. A few dancers continue to shuffle around the carpet as if they are cartoon characters, all with their hair down and wearing different coloured shirts or dresses. They glide along the carpet as if in a trance.  

The first moments of the piece contained little action, but the choreography became more emotive, spontaneous, and reactive as a fan was discovered and all the dancers were drawn to it. The wind seemed to represent pleasure for them as they became hopeful and synchronized, the upbeat songs (all sung by Nina Simone) matching their newfound energy. As Inger explains in an interview in the program notes, the wind represents a force for change the slowly spreads throughout a community. This group of dancers were certainly affected as the revolutionary discovery of various fans of increasing power encouraged them to take greater risks and move outside their comfort zone.

What began as curiosity about a hand-held fan turned into a group fighting to catch a bit of a breeze from a hairdryer to finally having all of them feel the breeze from a large industrial fan. The galloping beat of Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman” was infectious as these dancers poured their personalities into this humorous tale about the exhilarating way small changes can lead to revolutionary results.    

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