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Riley Sims in Inherencies.Jeremy Mimnagh

Inherencies and Other Disorders

  • Choreography by Darryl Tracy, Keith Cole and Lesandra Dodson
  • At Winchester Street Theatre
  • in Toronto on Wednesday

Rich in choreography, the concept program Inherencies and Other Disorders takes on the challenge of exploring both inherent traits and deviations from the perceived norm. The result - a compelling trilogy of original works from choreographers Lesandra Dodson and Keith Cole and producer Darryl Tracy - uses intense choreographic language that makes the audience think outside the box.

Lesandra Dodson's In 2 days a man can change

Dodson has long been a favourite of mine and she does not disappoint in this outing. Her duet for dancers Darryl Tracy and Ric Brown radiates her delicious and droll take on the foibles of humankind. In 2 days a man can change has been inspired by The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard, and it is a very clever fusion of words and movement - a Dodson hallmark. The piece begins and ends with slides of the Old West, specifically the desert of Monument Valley. Leonard is better known as a writer of noir street thrillers, but judging by the text Dodson has chosen, his western stories are equally dark.

The structure of the piece is vigorous choreography punctuated by short bursts of descriptive sentences - "Confronted by your inner darkness, you either prevail or succumb."

Dodson has given the dancers action poses and a series of crisp and athletic movement patterns. Brown is responsible for the clever costumes, - navy pants and shirts, the latter so loaded with buttons that they resemble a uniform - which bring to mind film director John Ford's cavalry men.

As a choreographer, Dodson loves surprises. Toward the end of the piece, Tracy adds on a Hitler mustache, and Brown a Cyrano nose. Eventually adding more and more inventive bits of costume, the dancers visually present the idea of the good, the bad and the ugly.

With composer Christine Fellows's brilliant score, featuring fanfares from a hunting horn, Dodson creates a work that fits the theme of nature versus nurture.

Darryl Tracy's Casa 1: faraway we walk closely and Casa 2: proximal

I wish Tracy had programmed his Casa series together, rather placing them as bookends. They share his choreographic signature of multilayered repetitions of intense gesture and movement fusions, and had they followed each other, the pieces could have better informed his theme.

Casa 1 was created for a trio of women (Heather Berry, Tina Fushell and Ceinwen Gobert), while Casa 2 is a quartet of two simultaneous duets for men (Paul Charbonneau and Simon Renaud, and Laurence Ramsay and Riley Sims). The movement structure is similar, but not the theme, though both pieces use the same New Age music.

Did Tracy intend the women to be Inherencies and the men to be Other Disorders? His women are more abstract, dancing in the same high-energy movement patterns, but every once in a while, one breaks away to either execute the same steps in another direction, or begin a new pattern entirely. Duets form and break apart to be become the trio again. Is this the shifting sands of sisterhood?

The men, however, are clearly involved in homoerotic behaviour. One duet takes to the foreground, but the audience is always aware of the other couple in the shadows. While the women are lightning fast, the men are slow and sensual. Casa 2 contains the dichotomy of both "in" and "out" of the closet. What is particularly fascinating is that the nature of the women seems more hard-edged and ruthless than the men.

Keith Cole's Dodged Bullets/Missed Opportunities

Cole is a gay activist and his piece, a solo for Tracy, is vintage. Picture silver-lamé briefs and a diaphanous sequined shirt, and you get the idea of a character who goes on an openly gay journey. This is a chronicle of overcoming disasters to find defiance.

As a choreographer, Cole deals with simplicity - jumps on the spot, walks on toes, bumps and grinds. His visual metaphor representing the turbulence of life is a clump of fans - that is, fans that circulate the air. The silent watcher (Simon Renaud) turns on the fans and then sits quietly in a child's red wagon. Is he the lover waiting in the wings or the one that precipitated the disaster?

At any rate, Tracy is a beautiful and precise mover, and seems to have great fun. Composer Cameron Groves has provided the lush score that swells with grand emotion.

Inherencies and Other Disorders continues until Saturday.