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Performance art, Poitras-style: Swept away in a kaleidoscope of images

End of Summer, Orange Leaves Falling: A hypnotic swirl of images embraces the viewer.

Edward Poitras

End of Summer, Orange Leaves Falling
Directed by
Robin Poitras, Edward Poitras
Mackenzie Art Gallery

Robin Poitras has been keeping the flame of dance alive on the Prairies since 1986 when she founded New Dance Horizons in Regina. Through NDH, she has presented countless choreographers from across Canada. She produces her own works with her dance company Rouge-gorge.

Regina seems to be a city where there is quite a cross-pollination of artists. For example, NDH and the Mackenzie Art Gallery are co-presenting an ambitious dance season for the second time (MAGDANCE 2 art+dance). Their current show, End of Summer, Orange Leaves Falling, involves dancers, actors, visual artists, composers, musicians and designers.

For End of Summer, Orange Leaves Falling, Poitras is collaborating with her ex-husband, multimedia visual artist Edward Poitras. The two produce performance art, that very particular hybrid of art installation and live performance.

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For this show, the ex-couple was inspired by evolution and change, dreams and consciousness, Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, the drawings of horses of the Chauvet cave, and the ancient Babylonian epic of Gilgamesh and Enkidu.

Performance art is meant to be an assault on the senses. The kaleidoscope of images embraces you like an artistic cocoon. It is an expressionistic experience following the non-linear leaps of the imagination, rather than the coherent line of meaning.

The set contains a doorway of television static and a picture of the planet Saturn. A live musician blows thundering notes on a bass clarinet. Dancers create animal imagery. An actor intones text from the Gilgamesh epic. A male dancer evolves from a fish to a warrior. Two "glitter girls" represent the harlots of the love goddess Ishtar. Two young ballerinas are swept into the maelstrom of the older dancers. A female dancer sits on top of a gigantic silver ball, three male swains physically resembling Atlas and the globe holding her steady.

The collaborators take the audience through a swirling journey that suggests the past, present and future of human existence.

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