Focus Cia De Dança presents ode to composer Steve Reich

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Still Reich | Focus Cia De Dança | Scotiabank Dance Centre | October 2 – 4, 2019

Impressive strength and precision. Emotional Depth. Breathtaking choreography. This Brazilian company led by Alex Neoral seems to have it all. In this ode to composer Steve Reich, the company presented four works set to Reich’s driving, energetic rhythms.

Pathways, full of duets involving lifts and counterbalances, was smooth and effortless as the dancers were light on their feet while moving through the clean and purposeful choreography. Minimalism, repetition, and task-like gestures punctuated this piece.

Reich’s voice was heard in between the pieces, talking about his work. This was a nice addition, adding his voice to the stage where his music was such an integral part of the work, inspiring the movement. Trilas was a faster piece with contemporary ballet influences. The dancers’ faces were somewhat expressionless, but the movements were expressive enough on their own.

In Wood Steps, the dancers walk on with aprons full of shoes and dump them in piles around the stage. The tone of this piece was anguished, as if the dancers were mourning a loss. They rolled around, mouths open in silent screams while the shoes were strewn around and then collected into one large mound, one dancer laying on top.  

Keta, the final and most stirring piece, featured Reich’s rapid, undulating Drumming. Wearing only black pants and chokers around their necks, the dancers moved in canon through rapid phrases that were loose and flowing. In some sections they were in sync, galloping as a group along with the endless barrage of booming drums. As the drums faded away, their movements slowed and became more subdued until they stopped to look directly at the audience, holding our attention in this moment that was in stark contrast to their powerful, athletic performance.

 

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