Our Executive Director Mirna Zagar introduces Kinesis Dance somatheatro’s In Penumbra, which premieres March 1-4:
Maintaining a small independent dance company for thirty years is a considerable achievement, and In Penumbra – the latest work from Kinesis Dance somatheatro – celebrates just that: three decades of fertile creativity, driven by the vision and determination of Artistic Director and choreographer Paras Terezakis. Paras has developed a reputation for creating works that are highly theatrical, with a passionate sensibility and a physicality reflecting his Mediterranean roots and Greek heritage. At the same time, he aims to dialogue with Canadian and international political and socio-economic issues, and to delve deeply into the human psyche.
I first encountered Paras Terezakis when I was on the Artistic Council of the internationally-renowned competition, Rencontres Chorégraphiques de Seine-Saint-Denis. He submitted a video of his work Café Nocturne, which stood out among the submissions received from across Canada. While tender and nostalgic in atmosphere, its visceral energy jumped off the screen; its commentary resonated with the times. Moving to Vancouver a little later, I had the pleasure of seeing the performance live. Paras was very generous in introducing me to Vancouver’s dance scene and thanks in large part to him, I got to know the city’s diverse dance community.
I quickly noticed a difference in Paras’ approach to making dances. His role was almost more that of a director, although it was clear he understood the body and what it could do. His perceptive eye and bold ideas pushed the dancers to step into unknown territories, often surprising them with the outcomes that were generated. All the contributors worked with a strong sense of ownership and a generous willingness to share experiences and ideas as the work evolved. The expectation was that all involved were not only aware of the subject matter, but that they also read about it, and watched movies with related themes. Discussions around the reading material (including political and historical themes) were often part of the creative process. This was a contrast to the typical approach at the time, where choreography was more of a composition of set movements, often with the aim to please the eye; and though improvisation was usually the tool of choice, dance artists aimed to work with a well-mastered, known language and phrasing. Paras was not, is not, afraid to pursue the unknown. He is after the raw, human impulse and how the outcome affects the viewer as much as the performer. His knowledge of the complex nature of Greek theatre enables him to maneuver through his multilayered, idea-abundant works, with what is often referred to as the Dionysian rather than the Apollonian approach. He goes against the grain, and his movement phrases are purposefully set in juxtaposition to the music; he insists on lighting as an architectural and not simply an atmospheric contributor; he engages with video and film, and he has commissioned music from leading composers. Maintaining a certain level of playfulness, he revels in disrupting established norms of practice, creating a controlled theatrical chaos and letting things evolve out of this. Through his bold, visceral movement style he confronts universal issues such as love, fear, power and loss.
Nevertheless, while his works appear to explore the dark side of humanity, they are always moments of lightness and whimsy, and a continuing quest for Utopia. In his most recent works he lets technology lead him through his theatrical envisioning as he plays with the qualitative nature of light and its impact on the interpretation of relationships, inviting us to draw our conclusions, at times seducing us with the beauty, the rawness and the exuberance of it all.
In Penumbra continues on the trajectory of 2015’s U>W and leads us on a journey in search of Utopia. The work explores the human condition, and our often insatiable desire to reach paradise, which brings out both the best and the worst in us. The title references the grey area between light and darkness that clouds our quest for enlightenment. To underscore this all he uses lighting as a key element in the work, which unfolds beneath a dazzling canopy of hundreds of lightbulbs. He is not afraid to go overboard in the use of elements that he chooses to push forward, as if inviting us to imagine and explore beyond the obvious.The choreography is characteristically visceral but also playful and experimental, performed by a wonderful ensemble of dancers who have worked with Paras steadily over the years: Elissa Hanson, Renée Sigouin, Hyoseung Ye, Arash Khakpour, and Diego Romero. Our usual theatre seating will be tucked away and the audience will be seated around the action, setting us up for a thrillingly immersive experience, a multi-sensory landscape of contrasts and contradictions.
Kinesis Dance someatheatro: In Penumbra
March 1-4, 2017 at 8pm | Scotiabank Dance Centre, Vancouver
Presented by Kinesis Dance somatheatro in partnership with The Dance Centre and the Vancouver International Dance Festival.
SUBSCRIBE to the Global Dance Connections series
Photos by Chris Randle