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Curator’s Notes

Split: A Sharp, Elegant Masterpiece

Lucy Guerin’s Split has been staged over 70 times since its premiere in 2017: this sharp, elegant masterpiece comes to Vancouver October 16 & 17. Our Executive Director Mirna Zagar discusses the piece and why it’s taking the dance world by storm.

I know, I say it all too often. You simply cannot miss this work. And, yes, I will say it again: you simply cannot miss Split. A work that is simple in its structure and consideration of a complex theme, and simply brilliant in execution.

Lucy Guerin is one of Australia’s top choreographers and her works travel the world. Her work has often been described as fearless, elaborate, sharp and elegant, working in the abstract that is characteristic of contemporary dance yet juxtaposed by an inner drama, as if inspired by ancient theatre practices. Vancouver audiences will remember Attractor, co-choreographed by Lucy with Gideon Obarzanek, which had a big impact at the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival earlier this year.

In Split she plays with time and space. All choreographers do – the difference is how they do so – but at the same time she manages to be current and insightful around the challenges one faces in our ever-shrinking and increasingly precarious world. Split is a gripping performance taking place in a hypnotic environment filled with the movement of the two dancers and their power struggles between individual demands and desires.

For Lucy herself, Split it may be the most successful work she has made to date. She reveals the challenge she set herself as she approached the choreography, working with two aspects that were “kind of opposing in a way, one more abstract physical dance material and this other material that is more hyper-dramatic, kind of grotesque, almost horrific, and then I juxtaposed them, one in the big space, one in the smaller. It’s that thing that you don’t always know what’s going to result. It’s quite scary and intense by the end, being compressed into a corner. There’s the sense of duality with the dancers, which you could very much see as different sides of the one person.”

The more abstract element of the work is Lucy’s signature, while the more expressive parts were developed through improvisation and a close working relationship with the dancers as she asked them to internalize a narrative and use it as a stimulant for making the movement, asking them to continuously disrupt it when the results became too comfortable. The British composer Scanner (Robin Rimbaud) has created a heartbeat like score which adds a growing sense of urgency, further underpinned by the ochre/yellowish lighting that to me evokes the decadent atmosphere we encounter in the paintings of Caravaggio.

This work is an expression of the joy of dance making, a chance to burrow into the pure elements of choreography – time, space, structure and the movements of the human body – and to allow content to develop from that process which has resonance in the world.” – Lucy Guerin


The Dance Centre presents the Global Dance Connections series

Lucy Guerin Inc: Split

Wednesday-Thursday October 16-17, 2019 | 8pm

Scotiabank Dance Centre


Photos: Gregory Lorenzutti