Proximity feels far away on screen

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Proximity | Joshua Beamish/MOVETHECOMPANY | The Dance Centre, presented with PuSh International Performing Arts Festival | streaming online | February 25 – March 11, 2021

Watching dance on screen is a very different experience from watching it in person in a theatre. A recording of a performance on stage has to overcome that barrier of the screen mediating the experience, but a dance film that has been designed for the medium doesn’t struggle in the same way.

Perhaps that’s why the first piece in this collection of five short works, Falling Upward, proved the most successful. It’s a beautifully shot film by Joshua Beamish, Scott Fowler & Stefan Nazarevich that features Beamish dancing along railroad tracks, beside a stream, in an old garage, and next to a wall of graffiti. While the choreography isn’t anything vastly innovative, the different settings and creative camera angles are what give it context, meaning and visual interest as Beamish seems to be propelled along, gaining momentum and falling upward.  

Beamish’s Proximity, a duet he performed with Renée Sigouin, is the most interesting piece of choreography on the program. In sparkly tops and black pants, they move as if connected, one impacting the other. Sometimes their small, measured movements are the same and sometimes mirrored, their timing always precise.

Lost Touch, a solo by Beamish danced by Sigouin, is full of contrasts: sound and silence, light and dark, movement and stillness. The pacing is steady throughout as Sigouin calmly lunges, spins and reaches, all with similar energy and seemingly in search of something real to hold on to.

Two other solos feature Beamish dancing works by Kristen Wicklund and Annabelle Lopez Ochoa. Wicklund’s Ablaze Amongst the Fragments of Your Sky features a large net that Beamish dances under and predictably falls on top of him by the end. It seemed that the work would be more powerful in person. In Lopez Ochoa’s Redemption, Beamish’s technical strength is on full display. While the staging with golden lighting by James Proudfoot and original music by Lisa Gerrard provide what should be a richly emotional setting, somehow this doesn’t come across — perhaps also a symptom of being on screen.

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