If our current state of humanity is as FAR portrays, then I’m very worried.

Photo by Ravi Deepres.

Photo by Ravi Deepres.

Vancouver Playhouse – September 26, 2014

FAR presents self-absorbed characters whose interactions with each other are at best superficial, and at worst, destined for conflict.  On their own, they are fully developed individuals who vigorously explore their own physicality and the space they inhabit.  In pairs and small groups, individualistic tendencies disrupt earnest attempts at cohesion, and as an ensemble, no matter how uniform the start, they inevitably descend into a discordant mob.  They are like the personages of German Expressionist paintings, each vibrant and colourful, but encased in their own black, isolating outline.  The last attempt at an emotional pairing leaves the female lying lifeless on the ground but doesn’t affect her partner beyond a mild grief.  Indifferently, he scans his surroundings then exits the stage.

The dancers are explosive.  They deliver the full range of movement, dynamism and texture that the choreography demands, and then some.  They are very present, and with a split-second awareness they initiate and react to the busy choreography on stage.  It’s much to their credit that the piece reaches the artistic heights that it does.  This attests to the company’s rigorous training regime that challenges dancers mentally as much as physically.  “Wayne holds a high standard so you aspire to be a better dancer,” said dancer Michael-John Harper, speaking of Wayne McGregor, founder and artistic director of Random Dance, in an interview conducted previously.  “He will ask us to approach a move in many different ways,” said dancer Travis Clausen-Knight of the way McGregor challenges dancers’ artistic range and keeps them inspired.   Inspired dancers inspire audiences.

While the choreography was consistent, choreographic choices lacked specificity; this left a lot of room for dancers to inject their virtuosity.   The much talked about backdrop of 3,200 LED lights (designed by rAndom International) was not the Vegas billboard I feared.  Rather, it complemented the piece well with its sharp pinpoint lights and their diffused glow that reflected from its white panel.  It set the piece in an indiscernible time that could be our past, present, or future.